Someone was aware of the hefty cost they would burden me with when deciding to steal my precious wool base layers. Since this site still can’t pay the monthly cost to feed my dog, I can’t afford the high price tag that is wool garments. I’m here looking for a more cost effective option. I’m looking for something durable, polyester, and fleece lined and acts like wool, but without the price tag. After a bunch of research and scouring of the jungle, I’ve landed on a Canadian company that seemed decent in quality. From my door step to the mountain, here’s my LAPASA base layer review.
Wool vs Polyester Base Layers
Whether the weather was cold or icy, my trusty wool base layers of unknown brand kept me warm under layers of everything else on the coldest of adventures. They were my go-to garments, tight, and didn’t smell. All I’ve known before that, however, were the cheap waffle cotton thermals my mother would buy me for Christmas. What I did not know, were products made of Merino wool or Polyester.
Certainly, wool has a range of benefits. The natural insulating of wool even when wet is amazing. Even when wet and covered in body stink, it doesn’t really smell. I don’t know the science behind this, but it’s a quality definitely worth mentioning. Mine were not. My wool thermals were old school and felt like wearing a wool sock on your entire body. Merino wool thermals, on the other hand, are soft and stretchy. They don’t itch and aren’t thick to the feel. They cost double.
I wish ill on whoever has taken my dear wool base layers and hope they meet a cruel fate.
Polyester, however, is more durable. It doesn’t have the same anti-microbial (smell-protection) properties as wool, but is quicker drying. I haven’t experienced a polyester base layer while wet personally, but I hear that the warm-when-wet properties are similar. This is due to the ability of both polyester and wool to maintain it’s fiber structure when wet.
Due to the low cost and similar ability to stay warm and shed moisture, polyester is a great material as a base layer. On paper. In my personal, subjective, and totally biased opinion; my precious wool base layers “felt” more natural and just better. They were tighter on my skin and more restrictive than these polyester ones. However, it wasn’t in a bad way. They “felt” more solid than these polyester suits and the natural material felt like they meant more business. The wool ones I had, however, were a pain to take off, and sometimes a two person job.
LAPASA Midweight Base Layer Review
I bought the midweight base layers before opening day of hunting. Upon scouring the internet for an affordable set of base layers, I landed on this Canadian-based company manufacturing garments in China. The other reviews were decent and while not a bottom-tier provider, they seemed affordable enough.
For my purposes, I would be camping at a high, mountainous elevation amongst the alpine forest. Temperatures would reach 28F at night and reach a high of 62F during the day.
I headed to the forest on a Friday evening after work, wearing work jeans, an undershirt, and a flannel shirt. When reaching our destination just before 9pm and the weather around 38F, I got out of the car and immediately felt cold. I took off my shirt and jeans and put on these midweight polyester base layers. Quickly, I put everything else back on.
Here is my first observation in this LAPASA base layer review. The wind chill was no longer a factor. They did a great job at cutting the wind off of my body. Additionally, I layered on a fleece sweater on top of my outfit, putting my bottom layers at a 2-count and my top layers at a 3-count. With all of this, a beanie, and gloves, it was still cold enough that standing around outside wasn’t terribly comfortable.
I’d sleep in the truck in a sleeping bag.
When morning came, I found quickly that I had not layered thickly enough. I should have had another layer on for the high 20s that I was sitting still in, with wind. While it was chilly, it wasn’t unbearable. There were points where I was shivering. A step into the sunshine fixed that. The rest of the day was totally fine and I was not too hot nor too cold.
Heavyweight for the WIN-ter
As someone who’s less tolerant to cold weather, I’ve since returned the midweight base layers and traded them for the LAPASA heavyweights. The fit and finish is equally good as the midweights, but the fleece is much fluffier. The garments feel thicker and remind me of a very thin pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. They look to be much more winter-ready than the midweights but at a cost. I have no idea how these will perform on the hotter side of the day, but I imagine they should be fine for me.
Throughout the day of hunting, even with highs in the 60s, I only shed my orange hunting vest. I imagine with the heavyweight base layers, I could potentially shed an outer layer to regulate temperature just fine.
They are fine, but they are not my trusty wool set.