Ok, we’ll get the Rab C. Nesbitt reference out of the way first. These base layers from Brynje are made from mesh fabric which might not score any style points at the mid-ride café stop but the science is simple.
“Nothing beats mesh as nothing insulates like air,” say Brynje and that’s the Norwegian firm’s founding philosophy. Brynje was started by Jacob Jacobsen Captain Henrik Brun and gets its name from the chainmail worn by the vikings, which was lighter, better ventilated and more comfortable than European solid armour.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and Brynje’s mesh base layers are said to trap pockets of air next to the skin, keeping you warm while still allowing the skin to breathe, thus improving the rate of transportation of sweat away from the body, ensuring you (and the base layer) stay dry and helping to regulate core temperature.
As a result, Brynje say their base layers are suitable for both warm and cool climates (depending on the model, of course) and the size of the mesh holes reflects the warmth offered by a particular base layer: the bigger the holes in the fabric, the bigger the pockets of air trapped next to the skin and the warmer the garment, and vice versa.
Brynje’s base layers have earned a strong reputation in the outdoors world – Edmund Hillary wore a Brynje base layer on the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1952 – and while they’re not cycling-specific, Greg LeMond, Sean Kelly and Thor Hushovd are among the cyclists said to have worn the company’s products.
We’ve received two Brynje base layers to review, both part of the Super Thermo range and made from a soft, 100 per cent synthetic fabric (used, say Brynje, as it dries faster and doesn’t absorb moisture like merino).
The Brynje range is extensive and covers everything from a lightweight summer undervest to a deep-winter base layer. Of the two to land on the desk at RoadCyclingUK, the Super Thermo Zip Polo 3/4 (£49), has a high collar and half-zip, while the Super Thermo Shirt With Wind Cover (£59) has a windproof panel on the front to stop a chilly breeze in its tracks before it reaches your skin.