SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

The Forgotten Cotton: AYG 365 First Layers

In an earlier gear review, I proclaimed my love for cotton. Yes, it’s a terrible material when you’re active or adventuring in the outdoors, but cotton is ridiculously comfortable. And you can’t argue with being comfortable when you’re often pushing outside of your comfort zone. AYG 365 (which stands for All-Year Gear) is a line of men’s and women’s first layers from Polarmax that include numerous cotton-based fabrics. But unlike your favorite ratty t-shirt, the AYG 365’s cotton shares similar qualities found in polypropylene and other high-performance next-to-skin layers that are the standard for any outdoor activity.

AYG 365 Women's V-Neck T-Shirt

The super soft and cozy cotton is actually a high-tech version of the natural fiber called XTRDRY. This moisture wicking XTRDRY has all the highly breathable properties of cotton, but pulls sweat and moisture away from your skin and evaporates quickly to help you stay dry and maintain an ideal body temperature (cool in the summer and warm in the winter). And if you’re outfitted in the right layering system, the AYG 365 technologies do their part to help sweaty vapors escape to your second, insulating layer and evaporate when it hits the outside air.

I recently put a few AYG 365 shirts and underwear to the test in southern Utah on a weeklong camping trip that involved sweaty hikes and long mountain bike rides. The
AYG 365 base layers definitely lived up to its name. Built for year-round use, the lightweight shirts, camisoles and underwear adapt to sudden changes in climate, as noted by the unexpected springtime weather in the desert. Hot, cold, dry, humid – it didn’t really matter. I was a dry, comfortable and happy camper no matter where we explored.

AYG 365 Women's Boyshorts

Within a few minutes of hiking past a trailhead, for instance, my V-neck t-shirt was already hard at work, pulling sweat away from my skin and keeping me noticeably dry while the shirt itself became increasingly damp. Even when wet, its stretchy four-way cotton retained its shape and provided enough mobility to continue the journey up and down without awkwardly clinging to my skin or – god forbid – chafing.

Maybe the greatest part of the V-neck t-shirt, though, is the UV protection it provides. A sunburn through your clothing might not happen very often, but when it does, it’s uncomfortable and annoying. Worn on its own, the white shirt I received provided UPF 50-rated defense against the intense sun even when sweat had absorbed through the fabric. UPF clothing may not be a deciding factor in buying AYG 365 gear, but it’s one less issue to think about when you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature for a few days.

AYG 365 Men's Short Sleeve Crew T-shirt

Especially when fresh clothes are few and far between, the Acclimate Fresh anti-microbial treatment that’s impregnated into both the shirts and underwear was a welcome feature. AYG 365 promises “moisture management and improved personal hygiene” – technologies that are worth your while in performance underwear. After multiple days of high activity and just a few pair of undies, the odor-eating treatment went above and beyond its duties. (By fighting off smelly bacteria, I managed to leave the desert with friendships still intact.) The cotton undies, which come in briefs, boy shorts and thongs for women and boxers and boxer briefs for men, provided the same moisture wicking technologies as the V-neck and were downright comfy even after a long hike.

It’s not often that I vouch for cotton active wear anymore, but with AYG 365, I’m making an exception. Long live (performance) cotton!

For more information on AYG 365, visit http://aygunderwear.com/.

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