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Gordini Lavawool Midweight Base Layers

I’ve been running my Lavawool midweight base layers through the ringer now that the snowpack has melted off of the high peaks here in the Rockies. The alpine climbing season has begun, and for all-day ascents with pre-dawn starts, Gordini’s long underwear top and bottoms are what I reach for first.

The first thing I noticed about the Lavawool material is how soft it is. It’s got the feel of a soft cotton, so I could sleep comfortably in them if I wanted. That’s thanks to a proprietary blend of 88 percent polyester and 12 percent merino wool, which I think is the best mix possible for me. I’ve used base layers from competitors before that use a blend of wool and synthetic, but they’re made with a higher wool percentage. There are definitely benefits to those fabrics, but at the end of the day I prefer synthetics. Even the finest grade merino isn't as soft as synthetic material when smashed against my skin for hours at a time beneath a harness.

My wife and I climbed a roped climb on a peak called The Spearhead last week, and I wore my Lavawool top and bottoms all day long. I didn’t itch at all and neither piece retained moisture. Thanks to the benefits of wool, the material has top notch stink-resistance and totally awesome moisture wicking properties. 

As the sun rose on our hike in, I heated up very fast. I was sweating a lot while hiking in the sun, but every time we stopped for a breather we hid in the shade. Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold – it was like that the whole hike. I’m glad the thermals kept me 100% dry because I truly would have started to shiver during our rest stops. The Lavawool base layers are among the best moisture-wicking thermals I’ve ever used; they performed flawlessly.

I also loved how well-built Gordini’s tops and bottoms are. All the seams are flat, so there’s no chafing beneath pack straps and hip belts, and the bottoms feature a gusseted crotch for freedom of movement. That’s not necessary while snowboarding or cross-country skiing, but while climbing and hiking it’s super important. Who wants to worry about tearing their underwear while rock-hopping through a creek or making a high-step on a rock climb? 

Last but not least, the garments fit like they should. They’re reasonably snug, which is perfect for wicking moisture, but they’re not so tight that they cause constrictions or loss of blood flow. The sizing felt spot on, and best of all, the sleeves weren’t too short!

Gordini Lavawool base layers are available in different weights and styles to suit your outdoor sport. I tested the midweight versions, which are great for alpine endeavors in the summer, spring or fall or for high-output snow activities like cross-country or back-country skiing. Gordini also offers  a 2-layer version for colder temperatures.

The men’s tops and bottoms are available in S to XXL, while the women’s versions are available in XS to XL. Gordini also makes a1/4 –zip top; all of the pieces come in black.

Bottom Line: Perfect blend of natural and synthetic fibers creates one of the best performing base layers I’ve tested.--N.W.  (June ‘11)

BUY ONLINE: $35/crew, $45 bottoms, click for crew top. Sale on bottoms at Amazon. Click for men's pant. Click here for more men's bottoms. Click for women's pants.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.