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How We Tested Long Underwear for Women

Tuesday June 7, 2022

We spent months really pushing our limits while testing each base layer bottom. We hiked, climbed, ran, slept, biked, and skied in each piece. We took them from the high mountains of Colorado and the Eastern Sierra to the cold oceans of the North Sea. Below we outline what we specifically did to evaluate each metric.

Warmth


We carefully observed and researched the fabric thickness and makeup of each pair of long underwear bottoms. In addition to simple observations, we braved the elements in these undies when it got cold. We tested throughout the Fall season, setting up camp outside as much as possible. We endured sub-zero temperatures and hiked uphill whenever we could see our breath. Ultimately we busted our buns to the point of sweat and then just sat to see which pair of long underwear kept us the warmest when in motion and when standing still.

long underwear womens - we explore the glaciers of alaska while sleeping in the snow to see...
We explore the glaciers of Alaska while sleeping in the snow to see how warm base layers truly are.
Credit: Amber King

Breathability and Drying Speed


We performed a few different tests in order to assess breathability and drying speed. First, we ran and hiked in every legging, both with and without additional layers. This provided us with excellent data on which products wicked moisture and allowed it to move through the fabric. Second, we evaluated the porosity of the material, recording which fabric allowed for the wind to cut right through to provide evaporation. Lastly, we performed an in-lab dryer test. In this test, we weighed the dry weight (in ounces) of each product. Then we dunked each underwater for one minute to simulate the pieces getting drenched in a downpour. This allowed us to see how much each absorbed. After that, we put each article in the dryer for 10-minute increments, weighing each along the way. We stopped the test when the product got back to its dry weight. This test provided an objective measure for us to calculate the drying rate of each layer.

long underwear womens - here we set up for our breathability, water resistance, and drying...
Here we set up for our breathability, water resistance, and drying tests.
Credit: Edward Kemper

Comfort and Fit


To look at comfort, we observed the comparative fabric softness and thickness of each product. We touched them, wore them against our skin for numerous days on end, and noted which felt the most comfortable when dry and wet. In addition, we determined which just felt the most comfortable to wear all day.

long underwear womens - we look at the overall comforts here. we look to see how the fabric...
We look at the overall comforts here. We look to see how the fabric stretches and conforms to the body, as well as how comfortable it is to sleep in. Here we sleep out in the canyons surrounding Las Vegas.
Credit: Amber King

To look at fit, we had several different women of all shapes and sizes try on the different layers. We noted relative leg lengths and the elasticity of the hems around the calf and the waist. We also looked at the fabrics to see if they stretched and had enough structure to maintain their shape after running around in the woods for a few hours. After performing these tests, we are able to provide good recommendations for fit.

Durability


To test durability, we evaluated the craftsmanship and construction of each piece, noting if there were any pilling or stitching fly-aways throughout the testing period. Also, to go above and beyond, we wore each piece on its own and under several layers. We noted if there was an area of high abrasion or holes that developed during our testing period. Also, we indicate if any holes became apparent in the fabric after just a minor snag. To that point, we must note that long underwear is not designed to be worn on its own — it's designed to be used with another thicker, more durable overlayer. These tests just allowed us to see which fabrics were more fragile than others.

long underwear womens - after use (both alone and with a layered system) we evaluate the...
After use (both alone and with a layered system) we evaluate the relative durability of all fabrics. While long underwear is not meant to be worn on its own, some bottoms are more durable than others. Here we see a hole as a result of crack climbing in Indian Creek on fall afternoon.
Credit: Edward Kemper

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