During this Helly Hansen baselayer test, ski instructor and adventurer Sarah Hannibal put them through their paces in the Alps and on a ski touring expedition in the Central Asian mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Check out this review of Lifa Active ski thermals by HH to find out why you spending on baselayers is a good investment.
As a ski instructor, I often have new skiers complain about pains in their boots. I would ask if they had their thermal trousers tucked in to their boots and nine times out of ten the answer would be yes.
The simple solution is pulling their thermals above the line of the ski boot. As such, I still don’t really understand the point of full length ski thermals, as the bottom quarter of the garment is superfluous material.
For the above reasons, during this Helly Hansen baselayer test I didn’t ski with these Lifa Active ski thermals tucked in to my boots. But the seams are nice and flat, so it’s possible they would be comfortable to wear full length. But I wasn’t going to risk being uncomfortable.
Review of Lifa Active ski thermals: Fit
The pants sit comfortably on the hips thanks to the elastic waistband being around 5cm high. So there is no digging or pinching around the waist area and any love handles are nicely tucked away!
The base layer top has a good body and arm length. It also allows full movement without cutting or pinching in. Initially I thought that the high neckline would irritate me, however it turned out to be the perfect fit, sitting just low enough to allow head and neck movement without being irritating.
The high sitting pants and the decent length of the top work well together. During this Helly Hansen baselayer test I found they kept me covered and comfortable. They can comfortably be worn with top tucked in or out of the pants.
Review of Lifa Active ski thermals: Performance
During any outdoor activity both air and body temperatures can fluctuate wildly. Good baselayers will efficiently wick away perspiration and dry quickly to prevent a drop in body temperature as moisture cools. This is critical as you can produce a lot of sweat skiing or snowboarding.
The opposite is true of a cotton t-shirt. Think of a strenuous and sweaty activity followed by stopping in a cold breeze. The cotton t-shirt doesn’t dry and will “freeze-chill” in the breeze. This could result in a dangerous drop in body temperature, which is the first step to hypothermia.
The Lifa Active Baselayer material is a highly breathable polyester, holding a single side up to the light you to see light through it. All these little holes allow the base layer to wick moisture away from your body. But how?
The ultrafine gaps between the woven fibers of the base layer allow the moisture to be pulled away from the skin due to the “capillary action” more commonly called “wicking”. And courtesy of Wikipedia:
“It occurs because of intermolecular forces between the liquid and surrounding solid surfaces. If the diameter of the tube is sufficiently small, then the combination of surface tension (which is caused by cohesion within the liquid) and adhesive forces between the liquid and container wall act to propel the liquid.”
The narrower the gaps, the better this process works. Once the moisture has moved away from the skin, it spreads itself out over the surface of the non-absorbent polyester material. This exposes the moisture to air, and allows the baselayer to dry quickly.
Helly Hansen baselayer test: Conclusion
I found the Lifa Active baselayers to work extremely well as part of a layering system with the HH Vertex Midlayer. The baselayers are highly efficient at wicking perspiration away from the skin and drying quickly. While the Vertex complemented this by wicking the moisture further from my body, but whilst retaining heat.
The final good thing I have to say about these baselayers, is that you can wear them multiple times before they become unbearably smelly – as I did ski touring in Kyrgyzstan. That said, depending on how polite your company is, the definition of unbearably smelly may need to be recalibrated!
We hope you found this review of Lifa Active ski thermals by Helly Hansen useful. Coming in a range of colours and styles they cost from £40 to £50 each: www.hellyhansen.com/lifa-active