It’s easy to forget about base layers among the fanfare that accompanies the plethora of jackets, jerseys, shorts and tights on the market.
But forget about them at your peril. A base layer is essential for any remotely serious riding – wicking away sweat to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. More on that here.
Wiggle’s in-house clothing brand dhb has revamped its base layer range for 2011, including the introduction of a series of Merino wool garments.
The benefits of Merino over synthetic fabrics are huge – the material is naturally breathable and warm, and dhb’s ultra-fine 18.5 micron yarn is exceptionally soft next to the skin.
While, for some, cotton may seem an acceptable fabric for a base layer, once damp it loses its insulation properties and you’ll quickly became a cold, soggy mess. While Merino won’t guarantee to keep you dry, it will retains its warm. Merino also doesn’t kick up such a stink.
dhb’s Merino base layers are available in both 190g – dubbed M_190 – and 150g – you guessed it, M_150 – fabric. All in all, the two different weights allow you to manage your thermal insulation to a tee.
We’ve been testing the M_150 long sleeve zipneck, M_190 long sleeve roundneck and M_150 short sleeve roundneck. Also available are a M_150 long sleeve roundneck and M_190 long sleeve zipneck, although ladies can only choose from a M_150 short sleeve roundneck and M_150 long sleeve roundneck. Confused? Take a look at the full range on Wiggle.
The cut is slim but Merino has an abundance of natural give ensuring a close but by no means tight fit. The subtle flat-stitched seams are of an excellent quality and are neither obtrusive or uncomfortable against the skin.
At the top of the pile, the zipneck base layer is the ultimate winter option. The high-quality YKK zip has a chin guard to protect cold, sensitive skin and the garment can used on its own in mild weather as well as a base layer when the weather closes in. The generous collar covers your neck with ease – an area so easily neglected in cold weather.
The 190g fabric is 25 per cent heavier than its lower-weight counterpart and the long sleeve roundneck was extremely cosy on warmer days, while the 150g short sleeve version was an autumn ride. Regardless of whatever dhb Merino base layer you choose, it’s sure to keep you warm.
All three pieces tested have survived multiple visits to the washing machine – an area where Merino traditionally falls down. And by no means should they be used simply for cycling – a good base layer is key while, for example, skiing, hiking or simply in day-to-day use during particularly chilly weather.
As has come to be expected from dhb, their Merino base layers are competitively priced, ranging from £30 for the M_150 short sleeve roundneck to £40 for the M_190 long sleeve zip neck. No longer is Merino the fabric of choice for those only willing to dig deep to keep riding and what you get for your money is a base layer which ticks all the boxes.