This year we purposefully picked a ski resort that was going to be quite a bit warmer than our experiences of the last couple of years. We love Ruka but the thought of skiing in -29 or colder again didn’t make us smile too much, so we opted for Austria instead, where temperatures would be somewhere between -1 and -10 – much more bearable. Being outdoors in minus anything still requires the proper clothing, and so I kept my new bright pink Odlo Revolution Warm Sports Underwear (thermal base layers to you and I), to one side since I received them to give them a proper test.
Image from Odlo. In reality they are a bit brighter than this, but the light was perhaps not quite right in my photo below.
Odlo are a new company to me, but I realise now I am a little late to the party as I saw the logo a lot on the slopes and in the shops in Obergurgl. Naturally I have been checking them online and I like what I see – technical products for active people who enjoy all kinds of adventure. Founded by Norwegian sportsman Odd Roar Lofterød in 1946, their motto is “Always make sure you’re one step ahead”, and these days they have a market-leading range of gear for all climates.
The thermals I have are from the Revolution range which is made from a combination of merino wool, widely considered as the warmest material for thermal layers, and a technical polyester yarn that adds strength. Marked as “warm” on Odlo’s scale (x-light, light, warm, x-warm), this sports underwear is said to be ideal for cold and snowy conditions and winter activities such as skiing and hiking. Revolution is designed for the ordinary adventurer – those who enjoy a relaxed day on the slopes (those who prefer ski touring in deep powder might want to look at the Evolution instead). Odlo say:
High-quality merino wool prevents odours and ensures that the shirt keeps you comfortable both on and off the pistes. Meanwhile, the polyester in the fabric blend wicks perspiration away from the body, so you stay nice and dry. This makes the shirt ultra-lightweight and warm against your skin.
You can see my Odlo shirt poking out the ends of my ski jacket sleeves. The sleeves have a handy thumb hole to keep them down over your wrists, so you can tuck the thermal layer into your gloves and keep even more toasty.
These base layers are most certainly comfortable – the brushed fleece inside is nice against the and gives you an instant feeling of warmth when you put the garment on. It also means they are comfortable all day; the natural feel of the wool and moisture management of the yarn means you can wear these for hours.
Fit wise my lumpy and short size 12 frame was fine inside the medium shirt and pants, with the arms and legs being the right length (which is generally unheard of, as you can see on the left they finish just on my ankle). They have a regular fit so they are not tight fitting, just nice and comfortable against the skin as a first layer, ready to take other layers over the top. I love the long arms and thumb holes the shirt have – it made it really easy to tuck the layer into my gloves to keep my wrists warm. I have to say there was one small bit that irritated my skin, a seam at the top of the pants dug into my side and left a slightly sore red mark because it was right where the waist band of my ski pants went; this only happened on the first wear (before washing) and hasn’t been such a problem since, so hopefully it was a stray thread or similar which has now been sorted.
In practice these did the job very well. They certainly kept me warm when used as a layer underneath my microfleece top and ski jacket/pants. I have no complaints about the performance – I didn’t need to wear two sets of thermals like I have been known to before! They moved well with my body when hiking and skiing, were comfortable when just sitting around, and were definitely superior to the old thermals I no longer want to put on.
We popped into some of the shops in Obergurgl, as you do when you’re on a winter holiday, and spotted these exact Odlo thermals for sale. At €90 each it made me wince a little bit I have to admit (£65 each in the UK) – I didn’t put my hand in my pocket and purchase another set, although I was tempted and might still do so before our next trip into the mountains; I have learnt that with outdoor gear you get what you pay for with so many things – footwear, socks, jackets, luggage – and now I add thermal base layers to that list. Maybe there will be a sale when summer hits! In the meantime, as these wash really well and dry quickly, I will continue to use my pink set to keep me enjoying the great outdoors as winter fizzles out and turns to spring. They might even be handy as my base layers when riding my motorbike.
You can see the full range of Odlo Revolution Warm Sports Underwear on the Odlo website.
Thank you to Odlo for kitting me out in their Revolution Warm Sports Underwear shirt and pants to keep me warm when outdoors this winter. And yes, I’m wearing my Christmas jumper in January – it’s allowed in the Alps!