Basic Instinct

At the risk of repeating ourselves, even the best waterproof in the world won’t keep its hard-walking wearer dry if it’s worn over the wrong layers. Sure, it’ll keep the rain out, but that’s only part of the problem and most people who complain about getting wet out on the hill are actually getting wet from the inside out, rather than the other way around.  

So, in the words of a famous actress; “here comes the science bit”. First, when we’re working hard, e.g. walking uphill, we are producing heat. Our bodies work best within a set temperature range so in order to try and maintain this temperature, it sets about trying to get rid of this heat. It does so by producing sweat, which then evaporates away from the skin, cooling it as it does so. This works brilliantly when we’re naked, but clothes get in the way. If the sweat we produce gets absorbed by our clothing, then it can’t evaporate so can’t cool us in the way it was designed to. Worse still, it will actually make us feel wet. Breathable outer layers are designed to minimise this problem by allowing water-vapour (evaporated sweat) to escape, whilst stopping real water (rain/snow etc) from entering. But this only works if the vapourised sweat gets to the outer layer. If the clothing layer next to the skin traps the sweat and prevents it from vapourising in the first place then instead of escaping through the microscopic pores of the outer layer, the perspiration will stay next to the skin, making the wearer hot and wet when he or she is exercising hard; and cold and wet the minute they stop. The solution is to ensure that the layer next to the skin can carry moisture away towards the outer layers, where it can then escape. This is the role of the base layer. Now we all know about t-shirts and tops by now, and hopefully most of your customers are already wearing them, but what about the real undergarments? Boxers or briefs for men and briefs and even bras for women? It’s amazing how little thought most outdoors types give to their private little places. The wishlist is the same for both sexes: support, comfort and quick drying when things do get sweaty. Good odour management is also useful and saves carrying a pack full of undies for every multiday trip. So next time you see a customer lustfully eying the latest all-singing, all-dancing shell jacket, don’t be embarrassed, just ask them what they plan to wear beneath it. Not only is it a chance to make them happier and more comfortable, it’s also an opportunity to increase sales.  

Icebreaker Bodyweight 200 Boxer with fly


Casual looking boxer short cut from wonderfully soft and comfortable merino wool.

For: Wonderfully comfortable, exceptional odour management, casual looks.

But: Seriously expensive. Wool doesn’t dry quite as quickly as some of the synthetics. Needs careful washing

Best for: Semi strenuous sports such as walking, climbing, skiing etc – particularly longer trips where spares aren’t carried.  

Sizes: S-XXL 

Icebreaker Nature Ultralite Bikini briefs


Feminine looking briefs cut from wonderfully soft and comfortable pure merino wool.

For: Soft and luxurious against the skin, exceptional odour and moisture management, sexy styling.

But: Requires careful washing. Wool doesn’t dry quite as quickly as some of the synthetics.

Best for: Any all year round outdoor activity.

Sizes: XS-XL

Contact: 01572 772437;  

Falke Athletic Light Briefs (Men’s and Women’s)


Lightweight, seriously stretchy brief that feels comfortable and ultra-supportive.

For: Comfortable, supportive and very quick-drying.

But: Doesn’t deal with odour as well as merino

Best for: Strenuous sports such as running, mountaineering or even adventure racing.

Sizes: S-XXL Men’s; XS-XL Women’s

Contact: ph 01539 725817;  

Falke Athletic cool briefs M’s and W’s


Ultra lightweight, seriously stretchy brief that feels lighter and cooler than the Light Brief.

For: Comfortable, supportive, cool and very quick drying

But: Doesn’t deal with odour as well as merino

Best for: Strenuous sports such as running and climbing, especially in milder climes where the light weight and quick drying fabric comes into its own.

Sizes: S-XXL Men’s; XS-XL Women’s

Contact: ph 01539 725817;

Falke ergonomic support bra


Soft and comfortable sports bra that is styled like a conventional bra. 

For: Soft, cool, quick drying fabric.

But: Not as supportive as some sports bras, and the elastic in the fabric tends to stretch over time.

Best for: Low to medium impact exercise in warm weather. Sizes: 32A; 34-36A, B, C; 38B, C, D

Lowe Alpine Lightweight Dryflo Briefs (Men’s)


Snug fitting boxers that feel soft for a synthetic fabric, yet offer plenty of support and dry very quickly. 

For: Quick drying, supportive, soft fabric         

But: Not as odour resistant as merino wool 

Best for: Pretty much all activities, strenuous or easier. Spares needed for longer trips though. 

Sizes: S-XXL

Contact: 01539 740840;

Lowe Alpine Lightweight Dryflo bra


A simple yet supportive bra that’s comfortable against the skin and dries very quickly. 

For: Quick drying, supportive, lightweight.

But: May not provide high-impact support for women with large busts.

Best for: Medium to high impact sports for smaller chested women.

Sizes: XS-XL

Contact: 01539 740840;   

Patagonia Men’s Active Sport Boxer Briefs


Tight fitting and supportive boxers cut from a quick-drying, 70% recycled polyester. 

For: Inexpensive, supportive and very cool and quick drying. Recyclable and made from 70% recycled fabric.

But: A bit full-on for casual use. Not as odour resistant as merino

Best for: Pretty much any activity but spares needed for lengthy outings. 

Sizes: S-XXL

Contact: 0800 0260055;

Patagonia Active Sport High Impact Bra


A seamless, high-impact sports bra made of lightweight, highly breathable and quick-drying fabric. 

For: Soft and comfortable fabric with adjustable straps and individual cups for excellent support. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program

But: Expensive and a bit full-on for casual use.

Best for: High impact sports.

Sizes: A/B; C/D

Contact: 0800 0260055;

Odlo High Ultimate fit bra


Breathable high impact sports bra with padded shoulder straps and pressure reducing back.

For: One of the best high impact sports bras on the market with individual mouldings for each cup for excellent fit and support.

But: Expensive and a bit full-on for casual use.

Best for: High impact sports.

Sizes: 32A-40E

Contact: 0845 603 7289;