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The Winter Gear Up Series: Base Layers "The Silent Hero"

This is the first video in our new Winter Running Gear Up Series. Join us every Wednesday in October and early November for new videos about cold weather essentials.

Watch as Amy from Craft gives us the low down on Craft base layers (and some other essentials).


Gearing up for Cold Weather: Base Layers

Are you feeling a chill in the air when you set out for an early morning run? It’s just about that time of the year when you will need to give some thought to dressing for cold weather. This used to be where I would put in a joke about “how I would do anything to avoid the treadmill.” Since treadmills are typically located in gyms, it probably is  a good idea to venture outside. If you have been reluctant in the past to venture outdoors when it gets cold, now might be a good time to try it out. If you are new to running – maybe you picked it up when the quarantine began and the gyms closed – there are several important considerations when running in cold weather. 

We are planning on taking a deep dive into winter running necessities during the next six weeks with videos released on the Fleet Feet Albany & Malta website each Wednesday to highlight specific apparel, accessories, and approaches that will make cold-weather running more comfortable, safer, and ultimately more enjoyable.

There are several considerations to keep in mind when temperatures drop and you want to continue running outside. First, make sure that you dress for 10-20 degrees warmer than what the outside thermometer reads. Why this discrepancy? As you run, you will warm up. If you feel comfortable when you start, you might overheat, get sweaty, and experience some chilling (as this excess moisture freezes) that could lead to hypothermia. By starting out slightly cooler you shouldn’t warm up too much and will avoid overheating and generating excess moisture. It’s all about staying dry.

Staying dry brings us to our second piece of critical cold-weather running advice: dress in layers! Yes, it’s all about the layers. Layers allow you to personalize your warmth and dryness needs depending on the conditions. Dressing in layers, of course, also allows you to adapt as conditions change. Is it getting warmer? Take off that jacket. Importantly, dressing in layers will allow you to more efficiently manage moisture.

The layer next to your skin is the base layer or “silent hero” of running apparel. What are the best materials for a base layer? First, let’s mention what material we should avoid: cotton. Cotton is not “the fabric of our lives” when you are running. It tends to absorb too much water and takes a long time to dry. This results in chilling in cold weather and chaffing in warmer weather. Any material that touches your skin needs to wick moisture away. There are two ideal materials that accomplish this wicking action: technical fabrics (synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, or Lycra) and merino wool, a natural fiber that is light, soft, breathable, and warm. Hydrophobic materials such as nylon and polyester — they resist water — are ideal. Most apparel companies use some type of proprietary blend of polyesters to create soft, breathable, warm, and wicking fabrics that will feel good against the skin. Natural wool also has hydrophobic properties and works well as a base layer. It is also anti-microbial, so it doesn’t retain odors. It can be scratchy, however; luckily, merino wool is soft against your skin. This super soft, breathable, and durable fiber is now ubiquitous in performance running apparel. 

Apparel companies have also figured out how to combine wool and polyester to take advantage of the ideal attributes of both materials. An ideal base layer will also have fewer seams, flat locked seams, or seams that are strategically placed to avoid irritating high-contact areas. Look for base layers that have been “body mapped.” The fabric will be thicker in areas where you get colder and more ventilated in areas that tend to get hot. Base layers should be more form fitted against your skin to be efficient in wicking moisture. 

Craft creates performance base layers that will keep you comfortable as you venture outdoors this fall and winter. Please watch the video above as Amy takes us through Craft’s base layer offerings. Remember, the base layer might not get as much credit and attention as your running jacket, because it remains largely unseen, but it is the “silent hero” of cold weather running and deserves some care and attention. A great performance base layer will help to make your running more enjoyable as the temperature drops this winter.


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