Someone asked me yesterday, “what’s the biggest bang for your buck” when it comes to boosting your comfort; basically, how can I squeeze more out of what I’ve got without spending a fortune on Gucci kit.
Well, as I’ve written on here before, people tend to have their priorities ‘arse about tit’, in that they invest the greatest amount of thought and money in the least important layer of clothing, and the least on the most important, i.e, you have a $500 Arcteryx jacket and a $20 base layer from Aldi. Remember that comfort starts with you, inside you, under your skin, and works outwards, and the further out you go, the less you need to think about it (relatively). This is why you’ll be more comfortable with a good quality merino base layer under a plastic raincoat, rather than that $500 dollar shell over a Walmart cotton T-shirt. Yes, ideally you give as much thought to all layers, but you need to start at the keystone, the foundation of comfort. This wasn’t actually my reply to the question at hand, as thinking about, and maybe buying a new base layer, is not the easiest option or bang for your buck; but this is: Whenever you have a long approach to any climb, or a section of the day which will be hot and sweaty, you should consider carrying two base layers, especially if you’re going to be static or slow once you get there (mixed or ice climbing). Dress lightly and pump your body heat and sweat through your approach layer (ideally, keep all your others dry), and once you get to where you’re going, strip off, rub yourself down, let your skin dry, and put on your dry base layer. This approach also works with socks and bras, and is also instructional why you want insulation that is placed over your action layer (belay jacket, pants, mitts), not within in.