Does base layer material matter if it's under wool?

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Oct 18, 2013
South West
Well a lot of good things here.

My 2 cents :

Of course wool is nice on your skin if you could. But wool is not rugged if not heavy and it is difficult to wash it properly or to dry it quickly in front of open fire (could shrink a lot).

Not a problem nowadays for sportmen, but it was a problem at war against lice, bacteria and mildew. Underwear must be washed above 60c.

Cotton underwear is okish if it is thin, no tight wave and slim fit. AND if you doesn’t wear it under goretex. Millions of soldier in the old time wear fine cotton flannel shirt under wool uniform and they survive to the cold with good pratice.

You could also use cotton fishnet (brynje). The effect is the same than flannel : not a lot of cotton and a lot of air for the weight. They will dry quite quickly.

Another strategy is to use heavy cotton underwear, like sweater or terry cotton. They will absorb your perspiration and you remain dry…only until cotton is saturated. And since it is heavy cotton they could absorb a lot before being damp.
It is not ok for heavy prolonged exercise in winter! but for light exercice or short one ( like resort skiing) it could be ok under wool or anorak without goretex.

Linen is the same as cotton. But since it is stronger you could have a more rugged or thinner cloth. If it is thinner it takes less time to dry. In the old time they use heavy linen shirt in mountain…but were afraid when the cold came at night : you have to remove them and dry it in front of fire.

In summer linen is great since it could be thin ( no insulation) and since it aBsorb water it is cool. And it is thin and it could dry quickly. Linen is also naturally smoother than cotton ( less insulation and slippery under cloth).

Rayon, viscose, modal, tencel…came from wood pulp. German used them a lot during WW2 a abad substitue to cotton…more and more until the end. Modern viscose is probably better, but not so much. On advantage they are smooth like silk so easy to wear ( you fin it under suit).

It is a common believe than wool have no bacteria. This is not true. It is true that since wool absorb water, bacteria have no water left to replicate a lot…normally. Dry wool is ok, wet wool no!

Common synthetics doesn’t aBsorb water, they only aDsorb water ( spread it). On this thin water layer mixed with your oil, salt and small piece of skin…it is open bar for them. They proliferate until you wash it deeply ( difficult since they don’t like hot water), and it stinks.

Cotton, silk, wool could stinks. But you could wash it. And, very important, a lot of different bacteria of different species could grow on them. Only few bacteria stinks.

In synthetics they have not a lot to eat…only some of them are selected. And it could be the worse for odor.

It is not possible to use poison for bacteria on underwear. Since you have to preserve your own bacteria on your skin.

But it is possible to use a bacteriostic compound. Silver will not kill directly bacteria, but they couldn’t proliferate. So the underwear is more odor resistant.

You have different way to link silver with synthetic. So they could be more or less wash resistant. Also you could have different percentage. You find the higher percentage in dedicated cloth only ( hospital, army…).

There are some concern about silver spread in nature in heavy concentration . But you could also consider than silver is natural. If you use something else than silver to give the same effect, it could be a problem.

Also : easy wash wool is heavily treated. Some treatment are not so good for nature. Also wool property will change. By exemple, felting is not a good thing from a fashion point of view. And it could be a problem with heavy wash. But felting is useful for insulation. Also lanolin had a bad smell but it repel water and make wool elastic.

I had good result with « odlo effect ». But they are inferior to wool underwear on me. Woolpower rich blend is a good but warm product.
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