Last week, thanks to Escape Outdoors (North Sydney’s very own outdoor adventure store) I acquired a SmartWool long sleeve base layer. This is a product I have wanted for quite some time but have held off because of the $75-$100 cost.

After getting my base layer, I couldn’t wait to get out and try it. Like any great outdoor-type with new equipment, I jumped on the first opportunity to get out and try the new “wears”, an Easter Weekend hike up Coxheath Hills, Cape Breton, which I found on This trek would work out perfect for a test because the hike usually leaves me sweating and damp by the time I get to the top (even on the coolest of days).

Being late Winter/early Spring and 7ºC, i had dressed in layers with my SmartWool against my skin, followed by a t-shirt, and finally a wool sweater, the perfect combination for such a day.

Within the first 10 minutes I noticed a huge difference from normal; my base layer was dry against my skin and felt like a breath of fresh air, cooling and warming at the same time. The wicking action of the SmartWool pulled the sweat away from my body keeping me dry and warm, especially when stopping for a rest.

After getting home, I threw my insulating layer in the wash, followed by the dryer, and folded it in my drawer to have ready for my next outing.

So what does it all come down to, is it worth it? If you are an avid hiker who finds themselves in varying climates or often cold and sweat soaked (even during cool hikes), I would say go for it. You will find your investment well worth it and quickly recouped in comfort.

NOTE: One thing I did find is that the baselayer was so effective at wicking that it left the layers above it damp. If you are going to invest in a good wicking baselayer, you may want to save up and also get a good breathable top layer to wear over it. If you don’t have the money for a breathable top layer, an inexpensive wool sweater is a good option.

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