Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gear Box: Ortovox Supersoft Base Layer

One of the things I love about testing out new gear is that occasionally I come across some really great items from a company that whose gear I've never used before. That's exactly the case with the new Supersoft Base Layers from Ortovox that I've had the pleasure of testing out over the past few weeks. Specifically, the Long Sleeve men's zipped top.

I first got a look at the Ortovox line-up at Outdoor Retailer back in August, where I was very impressed with the design of their gear. Everything they had on display had a fresh and unique look and seemed really high quality. Needless to say, when I received the zipped base layer a few weeks back, I was excited to put it through its paces and see if it lived up to my expectations. I soon found out that it definitely did.

Living in Austin, Texas we don't really get a true winter. It rarely snows here and cold weather doesn't hang around long. But this fall, it has been especially cool and damp for a prolonged period of time. As a result, I've had good weather to test this top while on nightly runs or mountain bike rides, during which it performed admirably on its own or as a layer underneath a shell.
Ortovox uses a blend of fabrics in this shirt, mixing soft, high quality merino wool on the outside, with a natural fabric known as modal, which is made from beech wood cellulose, on the inside. The result is base layer that breathes well, stretches and moves with the wearer, and provides plenty of warmth in cool and cold conditions. The shirt fits snugly, but doesn't feel restrictive in the least, even when you have the zipper pulled up tightly around your neck, as I did on one recent run in which it started to rain halfway to the finish line.

One thing I always appreciate in my gear is versatility, and this base layer offers that as well. Not only is it an excellent piece of gear for active pursuits like running or cycling, but it also looks good enough to wear around town as well. Throw in the fact that it makes an excellent start to a three-layer cold weather clothing system (base, fleece, shell) and you have an excellent article of clothing to take with you when you travel as well. The shirt would serve equally well strolling the streets of Paris as it would on the slopes in Chamonix.

With an MSRP of $120, this isn't a base layer for someone who isn't going to appreciate its performance and quality. But if you're an active outdoor enthusiast who doesn't let a little thing like cold weather slow you down, then you're likely to appreciate what Ortovox is delivering here. It is a very high quality piece of gear that will likely become one of your favorite pieces of clothing for winter adventures or travels. I know it'll be joining me on future journeys.