Almost no outdoor adventure is complete without a base layer. Whether you’re climbing, hiking, biking, running, kayaking, or crushing any other outdoor pursuit, a reliable and comfortable base layer is crucial to your overall comfort and enjoyment.
Naturally, the demand for high-quality products has led to a surge in brands competing for the top-dog position amongst base layer aficionados. One of those brands is Odlo, a Norwegian company first established in 1946. Over the years, Odlo has tried very hard to become the foremost supplier of exceptional base layers for both men and women, but have they hit that mark?
In this review, we’ll take a close look at Odlo’s base layer prowess, and see if their reputation for exceptional quality and longevity is well-founded.
An Odlo Base Layer Review
Importance of Base Layers
A base layer – in either shirt or pants form – is your bottom clothing layer that’s directly contacting your skin. It’s important in providing warmth and keeping you dry when in inclement or cold weather.
These garments are designed to stay with you throughout the day and regulate your body temperature. Therefore, they shouldn’t need to be taken off partway through an adventure and should provide optimal comfort and fit from start to finish.
Comfort is consequently a huge factor in picking out a base layer. The material should feel good next to your skin, wick away sweat, keep you warm, and not stink at the end of the day. So, let’s now see how Odlo stacks up in these criteria.
Fit and Comfort
The first unit of measurement for any garment is comfort, and we’re happy to report that Odlo scores very highly in this regard. All their base layer garments are very soft to the touch and feel great for all-day use.
Keep in mind that an effective base layer should be reasonably snug to do its job and sit comfortably beneath your other layers. The Odlo base layers are very form-fitting and implement body paneling to move with your body. This great for us and many active athletes, but maybe constricting if you have a large body type.
So, make sure you review Odlo’s sizing guides along with individual customer feedback before ordering. I am a traditional small in both pants and shirt, and while their smalls definitely fit me they are tight. Cameron is a medium and noted that they do fit, but are also tight.
While we’re talking sizing, please remember that Merino wool – while incredibly comfortable – is also prone to noticeable shrinkage, which brings us to our next point – materials.
Odlo Base Materials
In the world of base layer materials, we often have merino wool or synthetic polyester and polyamide blends with a little spandex or elastane. Luckily for us, Odlo makes a wide range of base layers that use all of these materials.
Their merino wool products are exceptionally comfortable and show excellent temperature regulation properties, thanks to their natural moisture-wicking ability. What’s more, Odlo’s merino wool base layers are also odor-resistant due to the material’s anti-bacterial properties.
Odlo’s synthetic materials show improved durability over merino wool but lack any inherent odor protection. To counter this drawback, Odlo has its EFFECT odor-control technology. While we can’t say it’s as effective as natural merino wool, it works wonders to minimize excess stink after a day of adventuring.
The body paneling combined with the synthetic material are exceptional at moisture regulation. They synthetic Blackcomb thermals are not the warmest thermals we’ve ever used, but on a ski or running in cold weather, they effectively distribute sweat and moisture. This allows for the moisture to evaporate faster and leave us dry.
In terms of material quality, we’re very pleased with Odlo’s base layers.
Durability With Odlo Base Layers
Odlo takes great pride in producing base layers that will last season after season. In addition to their excellent material quality – discussed above – Odlo also deploys excellent quality control and manufacturing processes to make sure their garments will hold up to everything from skiing to running to mountaineering.
However, it’s important to note that the Odlo base layer’s durability comes down to a scale defined by the specific material being used. In other words, synthetic material blends are typically much more durable than merino wool blends. That said, Odlo does an excellent job of expertly producing their merino wool base layers to optimize their longevity.
But what if something ends up failing or not living up to your expectations? That eventuality brings us to Odlo’s return policy.
Odlo Return Policy
When compared to other big brands and retailers out there, the Odlo return policy is pretty standard. You have 30 days to return a product. So definitely a little wiggle room if a product doesn’t live up to your expectations.
Odlo has an all-encompassing, no strings attached return policy spanning 30 days from delivery. Now, this is a little narrow, but it is worthwhile if you ordered the wrong size, the product isn’t what you expected, you don’t like the color, and so on. In fact, Odlo has established a streamlined returns website, so the process is as pain-free as possible.
Specific Odlo Lineups
As we’ve mentioned, Odlo produces a wide range of different base layer products – varying in material, warmth, and intended use. Let’s take a look at our favorites to ensure you’re familiar with all your options.
Evolution: This line, produced with a synthetic material blend, combines a slim athletic fit with smart body mapping for excellent performance during high-intensity activities. This body mapping strategy places high-ventilation materials where they’re most needed to wick away sweat and keep you cool.
Active: These 100% polyester base layers place a premium on thermal insulation, making them ideal for cold-weather adventures. The very soft material is also very pleasant to wear for several days in a row, while the Odlo Effect technology helps keep smelly odors at bay.
Blackcomb: If you’re going to be rocking your base layer as a top layer either at camp, the lodge, or back home, then the stylishly designed Blackcomb may be for you. These baselayers break away from the standard black and gray coloring in favor of sleek style and bold colors.
The Blackcomb doesn’t just look good; it includes effective moisture management and insulation to keep you comfortable all day long. We both have the Blackcomb collection leggings and shirt, and they are super comfortable although not nearly as warm as merino wool being made out of 57% Polyester, 36% Polyamide, and 7% Elastane.
Natural: These base layers rely heavily on merino wool’s phenomenal temperature regulation and moisture-wicking properties. Some of these items will use around 50% wool blended with synthetic materials, while a select few will be 100% wool. You’ll also tap into wool’s awesome odor-resistance for a smell-free experience.
Odlo Base Layer Conclusion
So, is Odlo worth the $75 to $90 investment? We say yes. The material and build quality are superb, as is the overall comfort. We love the range of materials – from synthetic to natural merino wool, giving us plenty of options to find our perfect material blend for whatever adventure is in the offing. Just keep in mind that the Odlo sizing tends to run a little tight, and you’ll be good to go.
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