Summer is not really looking forward for letting go, however winter soon will be here and it’s time to go through our layering strategies for spending time in the mountains.
during the spring we analised the criterias behind opting for a hardshell or a softshell. Now it’s time to focus on the heat insulating strategy.
I’m not a big fan of the thirty something degree temperatures, so during the last four months i’ve been In Fjord Norway putting to test different insulating strategies by Helly Hansen.
Such layers have been tested under rain, Bergen rain (kind of like the rainforest rain, but with fjords as landscape), snow, cold belays and low night temperatures, all the way from glaciers, alpine routes, wall climbing, cragging and loads of hiking.
lifa half zip
lifa merino half zip
Vanir icefall down jacket
heritage pile jacket
odin flow jacket
Today we will start with the baselayers and we will let the main course for the weekend when the first real storm of the season will finally hit.
We have here three different concepts.
The Lifa T-shirt and Lifa half zip, although they share the same name, have two different constructions. The t-shirts fits tighter and the fabric is slightly warmer, meanwhile the Lifa half zip does not sit as tight, (although it sits tight; it’s a baselayer) and the fabric is a bit more airy and air flow.
I’ve really enjoyed the t-shirt for performance oriented activities when it’s chilly and dry. Best temperature range is between 8 and 13º, It then turns as a great layer for trail running or as the climbing t-shirt to go. Light and simple construction just as a t-shirt. Sits tights against the body so it doesn’t fold, scratch or move around. Feels warm but not overwarm, Under 14º it doesn’t really get sweaty, moist or heavier during the activity. However don’t be tricked by the t-shirt construction; it’s still a baselayer. If you want to take it out because it looks cool and technical when it’s twenty something degrees you are going to be warm and sweaty.
It’s surprising how the fabric excels in breathability and really can be pushed before getting any moist. Moreover for performance oriented activities the t-shirt construction just feels right It’s smart to have heat around your core and extra ventilation through the arms and neck.
Regarding the Lifa half zip, the fabric is slightly fresher and more breathable. As it covers both arms and neck, It becomes a great option for activities like hiking, alpinism or I bet ski touring, where you are constantly on the move for several hours carrying heavy backpack and gear at a more constant pace.
On those situations the base layer keeps doing its function after hours on the go without gaining in moist, cold/wet feeling and still allows the skin to breathe.
Best temperature range between 7º and 13º.
Unfortunately the first day I took it sport climbing I took a whipper on an overhanging cave, and then I realized that I tore open the whole arm of the baselayer. Well, granite is sharp, and If you look at most of my climbing pants that I use for hard climbing in granite they are full of torn marks and restitched holes. I knew it was probably not the smartest idea to climb with it on such terrain, however it’s my duty as a tester.
Quite unfortunate, however, when I’ve taken it afterwards on more mellow climbing activities that happen on the big mountains, like long alpine ridges, then I’ve been pleased by it’s performance, especially on days around the 10 to 15ºC.
Concerning light rains, both the t-shirt and the half zip fabrics hold well moist, however, the t-shirt is surprisingly efficient. As it’s not covered on the arms and neck, your skin can breathe more efficient preventing condensing and extra moisture. I’ve had it on for a full hike on light rain for over two hours and a half and didn’t really got wet.
The lifa merino half zip it’s just pure coziness and performance for those chilly days under 8º.
It’s constructed as a blend of the Lifa fabric and merino wool. Basically it feels like a base layer considering the fit and the weight. You can feel that it’s still on the lifa family because the breathability and the stay dry properties are maintained, but thanks to the merino wool lining you have the thermal insulation of pretty much a mid layer.
On cold days, this versatility, can allow you to step outside of the typical three layer insulating strategy and be a bit more creative and optimal with your comfort temperature on the move while saving space for extra layers in your backpack.
The Lifa merino half zip has become my layer to go for activities where you are on the move at a constant pace is around 5º such as hiking, glaciers walks and as the approach layer that I can use as the mid layer on long multi pitch climbing days. I’ve been using it quite often on big wall climbing and alpine activities in the early fall in norway where days start close to 5º and then, even though temperatures may rise significantly you can find yourself exposed to the shadow and strong winds on the wall. On such situations I have been impressed with the performance; at first with the thermal insulation and the non sweaty properties but then with the roughness of the fabric. I haven’t been able to tear a hole or break some stitching yet, even on pretty nasty and sharp granite ridges. That’s really impressive, especially considering how cozy and smooth the fabric feels while moving on it.
As well it does not present yet worn off marks around the backpack and harness area.
Finally I’m actually a big fan of its looks, I can say that i’ve been using it quite too often as an urban sweater for crispy days on the city.
For both three baselayers I’ve been using size M. I am 180cm tall and around 77kg. My measures are for many brands the “standard” M size, and for HH It just fits like a glove for my body proportions.