For instance, compression tops and compression shorts are actually a lot better at keeping you cool and comfortable than the looser stuff that most people wear. This doesn’t seem right; unless you know exactly why good base layer clothing is designed the way it’s designed.
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For those of you who aren’t down with the lingo, the base layer is the layer clothing that is in actual contact with your skin, and it refers specifically to clothes that are designed to keep moisture from being trapped near your skin. Compression tops and compression shorts are designed to fit tight to your body, which is essential to having your base layer clothes work as they ought to.
There’s a good reason that we associate loose fitting clothing with keeping cool. Our body’s primary means of regulating heat is by sweating, and in order to do what it’s meant to do, it needs to be able to disperse that heat to the air, which loose fitting clothes allow you to do.
There are a couple of problems that crop up when you wear loose fitting clothes while you’re exercising or working. One is that loose fitting clothes, by their nature, tend to move around on the body and mess with your range of motion and generally get in the way.
The other problem is that once you’ve started to break a sweat, loose fitting clothes have a distinct tendency to stop being loose. The sweat causes them to stick, which completely kills their ability to let the air in. This kind of thing is exactly why base layer clothing has become popular among athletes.
The two basic components of base layer clothing are compression tops and compression shorts, with compression leggings coming in handy for fans of winter sports. The compression part of the name means that they fit close to your body, providing a gentle compression.
While it might seem like this would make you feel warmer, the opposite actually happens, because the base layer is made of fabric that pulls sweat and moisture away from your body. This means that you feel cooler because your body is able to deal with the excess heat effectively.
Because of how this works, you want the material to be right on the skin. The looser the clothing, the less effective this wicking is going to be. So the compression is essential to the base layer actually working the way they are supposed to.
If you’re new to them, compression tops and compression shorts will take some getting used to, but you’re going to find that they’re actually more comfortable than their loose fitting counterpart, to say nothing of the not inconsiderable advantage of letting you move any which way you want without riding up, sliding down or generally getting in the way.