Helly Hansen Kit Review (Part 3) - Base & Midlayers

Different technologies and different properties, how do you use them and how do you combine them?

As runner I have become accustomed to wearing garments that wick; that is materials that manage moisture and push it away from the body. I have also become accustomed to the ‘pong’ factor. Synthetic materials very quickly start to smell of sweat even after washing. In Antarctica there will be no washing, bathing or showering and so reducing the pong for my comfort and that of my tent mate is desirable. I also have been accustomed to layering, and prefer to layer a number of lightweight pieces to having single heavier layers.

As a result, I have become a bit of a merino wool convert for winter training, especially on the long runs. For me, the key benefit of merino is that it is lightweight, warm and sweat resistant: no pong. It can also be combined with wicking technology to improve moisture management.

HH recommended their dry technology over pure merino and have provided me with several Lifa Dry Fibre and Warm Fibre to trial.

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The dry revolution top and dry revolution pants use the HH Lifa fibre technology. (This is synthetic fabric with no merino). They are seam free, 40 % lighter than traditional polyester and should provide 60% more insulation than polyester. They are incredibly lightweight and the seam free construction makes them particularly comfortable. The wicking properties are also superior, keeping the skin dry and warm.  I have found this to be a great base layer for intense activity such as running.

I have used the top and pants on shorter runs as well as a 20 mile training run, and the top on a 33 mile ultra event. They have kept me dry, chafe free and pretty warm. My only slight niggle is that the top has a tendency to ride up the body. This is not in itself bad as the garment is long enough so as not to leave any unwanted gaps, but from a comfort point of view it can be irritating. The tights feel almost like a second skin, providing a barely noticeable extra layer and sits well under running tights.

The warm pant and crew top combines warmth with wicking, using Warm Fibre (with merino wool) and the Life Stay Dry: best of both. It is slightly looser and heavier weight than the dry revolution but comfortable to wear. It is also warmer and so better for less intense activity or when the temperatures are really low. The pant is good under a trouser, but not so comfortable under a running tight. The crew can be worn as a single layer under a shell for not so cold days, making it pretty versatile.

The Odin Hybrid top also combines the Warm and Dry technology. It is a lighter weight construction also, providing a good neat fit with breathability, insulation and moisture management. This is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine. It is so versatile, and can be work as a base layer or a mid-layer. It partners well with the dry revolution top underneath; and I have also put the odin isolator on top for added warmth.  That particular triple combination is a winner when you need lightweight moisure management and insulation combined with freedom of movement. The hybrid has a couple of good design features. The half zip opening with the fold down collar can provide both breathability and extra insulation, and plays to my preference for tops that can be opened at the neck. The thumb holes allow you to pull the sleeves over your hands to provide them with a bit of extra warmth and comfort.

The winter tights are a classic running tight made from a heavier weight fabric with a brushed interior. These are also becoming a firm

favourite: simple and classic, warm and comfortable; they dry quickly too. A snug fit and wrinkle free (always a bonus). That is all you want from a running tight. I wore these at the recent D33 Ultra, where I covered 33 miles in wind and torrential rain. I remained comfortable chafe free and warm throughout, what more could I ask?

Where does this leave me in terms of my Antarctic kit bag?

Multiples of all of these items will be in it.

On the top it will be the dry revolution and the odin hybrid tops for running the marathon, and potentially also for the ultra marathon, but I suspect I will need to go with the warm technology for the ultra event.

On the bottom it will be the winter tights (and windproof shell)  for the marathon and potentially the same for the ultra marathon, although I may well add the dry revolution tight as a base layer.

On my non running days it will be the HH Warm base layer combined perhaps the Odin hybrid or a fleece mid layer.