Picture this: you've scored first chair of the day and there's 45cm of blower pow on the ground. Your chair crests the ridge-line and you feel an icy cold blast of deep Antarctic wind. You tuck your chin a little deeper into your face mask; you know what storm skiing is all about and your layering game is as refined as they come, the product of years of hard earned lessons and cotton filled mistakes. You skate a couple steps and ski toward the next chair as you steal a glance to your left; all those suckers inside, you know what they got wrong? Their thermals.
Getting your base layers wrong can be one of the most uncomfortable, and even most dangerous mistakes you can make in the mountains. If you're not prepared for what the weather will be doing, then you’re not prepared for anything. So with all manner of options on the market, what makes the perfect set of thermal underwear?
Le Bent are unique in this space as we offer a unique merino and bamboo blend that allows us to offer a silky soft hand feel that keeps our customers coming back for more and keeps you on the chair or skin track when others can’t hack it.
How do we do it? Well, we ask ourselves some key questions and set our goals on delivering the most comfortable, durable and performance-orientated answers possible...
What Material Is Best?
When deciding on the perfect set of men’s, women’s or kid’s base layers you have two options: synthetic or natural.
Synthetic base layers are generally spun with a variant of thermoplastic polymers that will work to keep you warm, but who wants to wrap themselves in plastic, right? And often they tend to stink before the day is out. Natural thermal fibres have traditionally been spun with merino wool. If it’s good enough to keep a sheep warm, then it’s good enough for humans. So, what’s the catch? Scratch. While merino wools are the perfect insulator, they’re not the perfect fabric to have pressed against your skin for twelve hours a day. So the question arises: what’s the perfect fibre? Honed over years of research and development and a collaboration with Australia's peak scientific body (CSIRO), we unpacked on a simple idea to combine the benefits and sustainability of bamboo rayon fibre with the warmth and durability of merino. The result? The highest quality, comfort and performance you can expect from any other material.
An on skin layer and a layer of skins. Our 200gm Le Base Lightweight Crew Top.
On paper, it’s an unlikely romance - merino and bamboo. Although the latter is technically a grass, and therefore beloved by the former… What makes the two materials so compatible is their differences. Individually rayon from bamboo and merino wool are world-class materials, but combined, they form a bespoke yarn that redefines what we thought was possible in a fabric.
As the thermal will be the closest to your skin, the advanced wicking properties of the merino and bamboo blend ensure that moisture is worked quickly through your layers, keeping you both warm and dry with no odour build up or stink. The bamboo ensures the fabric feels nice and soft on the skin with no irritation, no itch.
How easy is it to get your choice of material wrong?
Earlier on in the article we alluded to some hard-earned lessons in the layering game. We thought we’d highlight them here so you can learn the easy way - if you haven’t already made the same mistakes we and many other snow-goers once made.
Cotton: trite as it is to say, but cotton is not at home in the mountains. Layers keep one warm by trapping warm air next to the skin. While cotton does this to some capacity, when it gets wet, those air pockets become water pockets and cotton will stay soggy - or frozen, depending on where you find yourself - until you head back inside.
A fun fact for the skin trail...cotton can absorb around 20 times its own weight in water.
Synthetics: While not as abhorrent in the mountains as cotton, synthetics - of which there are many - aren’t an ideal substitute either. While better at wicking moisture, synthetics aren't as successful as merino at suppressing odours. Some manufacturers might attempt to solve this with an anti-microbial coating, but these tend to fall well short of mother nature's solution in the lanolin wax within merino.
au naturel. No cotton or synthetics in sight on these base layers.
What Fabric Weight Do I Need?
The final consideration is weight. As you’ll be aware, varying conditions call for varying levels of insulation, and getting it right starts at the base. That is, the base of your layering, and the base of the mountain.
Lightweight to midweight, Le Bent offer two options: a 200gm or 260gm variant – 200 for milder conditions – think Australian winters, or spring skiing overseas – and 260 for when it’s really blowing from the Arctic – think mid-winter in the Rockies, Europe or Japan. Of course these suggestions are subject to personal preference and the level of exertion you expect to be doing in your base layers. For those on the skin track all day, we suggest opting for the lighter 200gm blend, whereas if you’re riding cold chairlifts all day you might want a little more insurance and insulation.
The right fit?
No matter what weight you choose, you’ll barely notice it’s there thanks to our semi performance fit. We believe thermals should fit like a glove, not necessarily squeeze the life out of you by being skin tight. Our fit is designed specifically for activity and insulation in the mountains. It just so happens that it also looks at ease on an après deck.
Cheers to a day made better with the right layers.
At Le Bent we call it our Signature Blend and the quality of finish is immediately noticeable. It’s a unique combination of Mother Nature’s finest attributes – the growth, sustainability and softness of bamboo combined with merino, the finest natural insulator known to mankind. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply the result of years of research and design, innovation and a deep-rooted love of the mountains. No matter if you’re a skier, snowboarder, man, woman or child, Le Bent has a perfect set of men’s women’s and kid’s base layers for you. Let us take care of comfort, so you can focus on having a good time.
Le blend benefits: