Why bother with a base layer? Well, there’s the plain obvious: something has to be closest to the skin and whatever it is will be, by definition, the layer on which your clothing selection is based. So why not start with a long-sleeved jersey and pull on another over the top? You’d have too many pockets, some unreachable, for one thing. But, more to the point, it surely wouldn’t feel pleasant. You need a fabric that feels comfortable against the skin and wicks moisture away, you need flat seams that don’t cause pressure points under the compression of outer garments and you need a close, wrinkle-free fit.
Helly-Hansen’s Dry Stripe Crew long-sleeved undervest – I assume that’s what it is as the orange colour option is not shown on the company’s product webpage – does the job to perfection. Well, this example would if worn by someone a size larger; the size L ordered is a little long in the arm and slack girth-wise for a tester who fits most size L cycling stuff nicely. The arms seem looser than the trunk. Otherwise, it is excellent, flat-lock stitching ensuring a snug fit while the crew neck works well with a zip-neck jersey to permit fine tuning of bodily heat loss. The overall cut allows easy arm movement without pulling on the torso and the cuffs keep the sleeves where they are supposed to be.
Polypropylene yarn, which does not absorb water, is acknowledged to be the most effective when it comes to wicking moisture and in this respect the fine knit of the Dry Stripe’s fabric is a definite improvement over the rougher material used for the decade-old Helly-Hansen vests I still wear. Talking of which, they still launder well; so does the new vest, which remains odour-free (I hope) for the first wear post-wash although, like all such polyprop garments, it quickly needs another wash. But, then, it dries incredibly quickly both on the washing line and on the body – given the chance.
The only reservation concerns the colour. Nothing wrong with it but, under a light-coloured jersey it does show through; worn under a white jersey, it changes the latter’s hue. Colours shown on the website are Navy, White and Black with either white or yellow stripes.
Helly Hansen Dry Stripe Crew long-sleeved undervest £30; sizes XS – 3XL
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