Although our base layers have been developed for the demanding needs of dedicated skiers and snowboarders, this critical layer lends itself to a number of other outdoor pursuits. Of course, as many you will know, most ski resorts in Europe are home to some epic downhill mountain biking giving alpinists a shot at fast paced descents without the snowfall. However, with the colder months of autumn requiring some serious warmth, riders need to balance flexibility and warmth carefully.
While most gondolas in Europe stop taking mountain bikers up around the end of September, there are shuttle services to get you to the trails without the back-breaking slog to the top. Bigger crews will sometimes run a relay of vans, when the gondolas stop, while riders in lower altitude areas have to ride/push their way to the top of the trail. However, the base layer proves vital in all instances.
When it comes to actually riding the trails, there’s not a lot of aerobic effort involved. This leaves us susceptible to chills from both the rush of wind and air as we rapidly descend the terrain, as well as the lower temperatures found at higher altitude. It’s for this reason that downhill mountain bikers from Avoriaz to the Brecon Beacons rely heavily on the humble base layer.
The secret here is to wear fewer, but smarter layers, particularly if you're likely to be putting in some hard pushes up hill. Breathability is most certainly your friend here, and a hard working base layer top is unquestionably an essential piece of kit.
Mountain bikers don't want compression, nor the high thermal nature of Merino, which is why the All Action, our most versatile base layer yet, is highly suited to the task. This poly blend base layer delivers unrivalled warmth and comfort, while giving you full range of movement. Flexibility is key when looking for flow up in the mountains where restriction of movement could lead to some pretty disastrous consequences.
Blending hydrophobic and hydrophilic fibres, the All Action Base Layer substantially improves the way sweat and moisture is drawn away from the skin. This helps prevent chaffing which can be a real problem, especially when heavy padding is concerned.
We often speak to riders who will wear this base layer instead of a t-shirt. This allows them to wear fewer layers, but because they are wearing smarter, harder working layers their body temperature and sweat wicking is being taken care of effectively.
The mountains are a veritable playground and beyond the snow drenched resorts, winter can be a profitable time for the British downhill mountain biker, whether you’re heading up into the Highlands, or thundering down trails near the lakes. From peak to piste, from trail to track, our mission is to keep you warm, dry and comfortable in all conditions.
We caught up with Derek Chandler of Marmalade Ski School, one of our official FLOA partners to talk about the diversity of the 3 Valleys and escaping the confines of normal skiing…
The allure of the backcountry promises open terrain without the crowds, but if it’s your first time off-piste, make sure you bear these key tips in mind…