Thriving in Thermals
With winter closing in I began the search for this seasons thermal baselayers which would be perfect on the piste but could also blend into a London lifestyle, without making me look like I had arrived fresh from the slopes of St Anton.
It used to be that in searching for thermal layers you were pretty much limited to Helly Hansen or RonHill, but that has changed thanks to the likes of IceBreaker, IsoBaa and Janus, who spotted a niche in the market and hired some designers who appreciated fashion and the female form.
If some of these prices are making you blanche it is always worth visiting sites like SportPursuit, Alpine-Trek, Wiggle or Cotswold Outdoor. They frequently have flash sales or last seasons items at a discount, meaning that you shouldn't have to pay over £50 for a high-quality baselayer.
1. Helly Hansen consistently receive rave reviews for their baselayers. In recent years they have stepped up their game again and begun to produce their designs in a range of prints, this gentle cream one being my favourite. The long sleeves are exceptionally valuable when you fall over on the piste a lot.
2. For the casual sportswear look and a lightweight feel (perfect for Autumn) Ortovox provide a great selection. This Aqua and Maroon one is only 150gm and would be perfect paired with jeans and Keds. They are best known for their bold colours and efficient, sporty designs. Ortovox are surprisingly hard to get hold of, but Absolute-Snow, AlpineTrek and Ellis Brigham do stock some items.
3. Icebreaker arguably produce some of the best quality thicker thermals out there. This year they have designed some in beautiful Wild Rose and Nori Heather tones, as well as in a range of necklines to suit all shapes and sizes. As an owner of a couple of these I can verify that the merino wool is superb for sports where you're getting hot, sweaty and smelly.
4. Every girl needs a basic long-sleeved black layer in her wardrobe. If you're after one that could go with anything and doesn't have labels and logos covering it, Janus may have the answer. You may not want to push the boat out on the basics so this top comes at great value for money. Incidentally black thermals are the best at hiding sweat stains, and I'm yet to meet a skier who doesn't sweat.
5. I am loving the baselayers on offer from Mountain Hardwear this season. When you're learning to ski off-piste the snow gets everywhere; I have frequently resembled a yeti. With these long sleeves and thumb holes the top slides nicely under the opening of your gloves, stopping the snow reaching your elbows. With this striped design they could equally be paired with jeans in the countryside.
6. IsoBaa is exclusively available from the SportPursuit website and at often discounted prices. Made from 100% Superfine Merino Wool and at 180gm it will easily keep you warm and toasty during the British winter. They are relatively new to the market but they've put a lot of thought into the design, from off set shoulder seams (to avoid chafing) with a rucksack to a drop tail hem for extra coverage.
7. For a loungewear style scoop-neck design Super.Natural Merino offer you this lovely lightweight top. This brand took it as a personal challenge that functional tops could not be laid-back and stylish, and we thank them for it, for this is the result. This looks just like a regular long sleeved t-shirt, but benefits from materials that are breathable and keep you warm. It's even fine in the tumble-dryer.
8. For those of us feeling the cold a little more, needing a rollneck design with long sleeves, and a bright colour to beat the winter blues, this piece by UnderArmour fits the bill perfectly. The brand may have started out in American football and their main focus may now be fashionable fitness wear, but this top would be perfect for the aggressive skier.