By Sportsman’s New Pro Staff
For the last 20 years, mountaineers and adventurists have been developing and refining a defining method to stay comfortable in rapid changing climatic scenarios. Combining the concept, technology, and progression; Sitka Gear is amidst the upper echelon in the utilization of Base Layer technology. While there are several elements that play to make an effective Base, the overall success is determined by the garment’s ability to “wick” moisture. With your skin dry, you are warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s hot.
When attempting to wrap one’s head around Base Layer technology, he/she needs to understand that the “Base Layer” or “Next-to-Skin” layer is one of three main “layer categories”: Base, Insulation, and Shell. The idea of a “layering system” is to pull moisture off the surface of the skin, pass it through an insulating layer, and then past a shell layer (which allows the perspiration to evaporate without allowing any penetration from the outside in). Base is critical in this system, as it allows the enthusiast to employ several layers as opposed to one or two. It also allows the hunter flexibility for different hunting styles and methods (tree stand, spot-and-stock, athletic foot pursuits, etc.), for a wide array and fast changing temperature swings or activity levels.
Sitka Base Layers utilize three main components and fiber technologies: Hydrophilic, Hydrophobic, and Silver encapsulated fiber. These three technologies are married into the Base layer garment through a process referred to as “Bi-plating”. Bi-plating is a fabric construction technique that sandwhiches the different fibers to mechanically move moisture away from the skin, while still surpassing tests in durability & pack ability. This technique creates a fabric that will move moisture away from the skin for the life of the garment, unlike some fabrics tha are chemically treated to do the same. Unfortunately, that is a short term solution, as the treatment will wash out before long.
Here’s how it works:
For a fiber to have “Hydrophilic” properties, it means that it will attract moisture. Conversely, when a fiber is said to have “Hydrophobic” properties, it repels water molecules. By combining these two properties proportionally and regionally, a fabric can be knit together to essentially “seek and wick” moisture off of the surface of the skin. Moisture is absorbed off the skin, then transferred to the outer layer of hydrophobic fibers. Here the surface area of the water molecules is increased quickly, accelerating dry times significantly. This is what is considered mechanical moisture management.
Not all fabric is created equal. Fabric that incorporates lycra, or “stretching” fabric will have pores that hold moisture longer ad better remind you of the old days of cotton. For next-to-skin pieces, make sure that it is polyester, so that it doesn’t stay damp. The thrid factor is Silver. While silver is known for many things, it is also known for its ability to kill bacteria. By incorporating silver into Base, the garment gains anti-microbial properties. Using “ATB 100 Silver”, Sitka Base has permanent silver technology woven into the garment, and is very affective in killing odor causing bacteria. What is commonly overlooked with Silver is the fact that it needs to be in contact with moisture, ideally next to your skin, to activate. Otherwise, it’s wasted money.
By moving the moisture away from the body, and maximizing breathability, hunters are able to better regulate their core temperature. Whether regulating to keep the body warm or cool, the efficiency of Base is clutch for an effective “layering system”. For more information about Sitka Gear, or about Sitka’s available layers and how they work, you can visit the website at: www.SitkaGear.com. Stay tuned for the next issue of Sportsman’s News where the 2nd Layer (Insulation) will be examined in depth.