Helly Hansen Base Layer Review

Back in January, I had the opportunity to attend the Outdoor Retailer Winter 2012 Trade Show in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. My favourite line of winter apparel from the Show had to be Helly Hansen. With the ski and snowboard season about to open this weekend at a number of resorts in Australia and New Zealand. It seems appropriate to re-post the article here.

The Helly Hansen booth was one of the most popular during the Outdoor Retailer Demo-Day at Solitude Mountain, Utah. For a $10 donation to Life Turns, anyone attending the event could test one of the HH base layers. The other option was to strip down and exchange the base layer you were wearing for a new one, with many people going nearly topless to get a chance to take home new HH gear.

I tested the warmest of the four base layer versions, the Warm Freeze 1/2 Zip, intended for use from -30C up to -5C. I generally wear some form of performance polyester as my base layer when skiing, followed by a merino wool mid-layer. With the warmth of the Helly Hansen base layer, I almost didn’t need the extra mid-layer.
The HH base layer uses a Lifa dual layer construction made from the company’s proprietary Lifa Stay Dry Technology. Outside Magazine considers Helly Hansen’s Lifa to be in their list of the Top 100 Most Influential Gear of All Time. The dual layer construction is made from a merino wool exterior, fused onto a lightweight insulation using Helly Hanson’s Lifa T3 hollow fibre polypropylene fabrication. The key to the Lifa technology is the use of your own body heat to push sweat vapor through the fabric and away from the skin. I definitely felt dryer when skiing, even under the arms, ultimately keeping me warmer. When compared to synthetics, Lifa retains 40 times less moisture, is 50% lighter, has a natural resistance to bacteria that cause odors, and is hypo-allergenic.

Helly Hansen is distributed by Blue Rock in Australia and its sister company Bocara in New Zealand. The men’s and women’s Helly Hanson Warm Freeze 1/2 Zip retails for A$149.95 and comes in a variety of colors with a bit of trimming or designs to make them fashionable enough for sitting around the fire back at the lodge.

Don Jurries
(Portions of this article first appeared on the Southern Ascent affiliate website, The GearCaster , dated January 21, 2012)

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