I know: what the heck are female-specific baselayers? I had the same reaction when I first heard about Andie’s Outdoor Undies. Bear with me for a moment, because I promise: I will fill you in.
But first, let me tell you about Andie’s Outdoor Undies. Andie’s is a small company in western Colorado that was started in 2012 by Andra Byrnes. When Andra could no longer find her favorite baselayers, she decided to make them herself — only better. She sat down with a technical designer and thought about all the things she liked, and didn’t like, about the baselayers she used to buy. And then she incorporated her thoughts into something new.
Which brings me to the female specific part. I’ll start with the bottoms. To put it simply, Andie’s baselayers are made so you can go to the bathroom without taking them off. Instead, there’s a panel between your legs that parts when you squat, then closes up when you stand. Here are a couple views:
Why is this such a terrific idea? Say you’re in the backcountry hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, whatever, and you have to pee. For guys, this is simple: you just unzip and go. For girls, not so easy. We have to unzip, pull our pants down, and bare our butts before we can take a whiz, even if it’s ten below. With Andie’s, you just pull down your pants, squat, and pee; no butt baring required. Or say you’re skiing and you duck into the lodge to use the facilities. With conventional baselayers, you need to 1) untuck your top; 2) pull down your ski pants; 3) pull down your base layer; 3) pull down your undies (if you’re wearing them), and then go through the ordeal of getting yourself back together, when you’re done. With Andie’s, this isn’t the case. All you need to do is pull down your ski pants, squat, and go. Easy, peasy (or pee-zy).
I tried Andies Undies in an indoor environment, and I’ll be honest, at first I was a little wary. What if the opening wasn’t quite large enough? What if I missed and ended up with a wet base layer for the rest of the day? I will say that yes, it took a few tries for me to feel comfortable. But then it was easy. And for convenience, you can’t beat ’em.
What else makes these female specific? According to Andra, they’re designed to not pull down in the back when you bend over, or bunch around the knees or ankles. And equally important, they’re designed to look nice.
Female Specific Tops
What makes a top female specific? According to Andra, for too long manufacturers have been simply shrinking men’s tops to fit women: a sort of “shrink it and pink it” for baselayers. Andra told me she set out to re-imagine the top completely, creating one that’s not binding or snug and is more proportional to a woman’s body. She also gave it a turtleneck collar that can be pulled up to act as a neck warmer or to cover the lower portion of your face, like a Buff, and thumbholes so you can pull the sleeves over your hands. And she designed her tops to be attractive enough to wear alone without looking like you just stepped out in your base layer. I tried the Beyond-Your-Basic Turtleneck, and yeah, I was impressed. One of the things I particularly loved is the fabric. It’s 86% Polyester/14% Spandex with 4 way stretch, and it wicks. But it’s also incredibly soft on the inside and really nice and smooth on the outside. Truly, this is by far the most comfortable, most luxurious-feeling base layer I’ve ever tried. I think it’s my new favorite baselayer top.
BTW, all Andie’s Undies are made in Wray, Colorado through Rural Colorado Apparel Manufacturers, an organization whose mission is to create sustainable jobs for people in rural areas, which is a super great. The products are all sold direct from the company. You can visit her website here.