Howies NBL Light Long Sleeve undervest – review

Merino wool is, as everybody these days knows, the stuff to go for when it comes to staying comfortable on the bike in variable weather conditions. There’s a very good reason why; it is hygroscopic, meaning that it takes up and holds water, but the important aspect of this is that it does so without feeling wet until it is absolutely sodden. Even then, it is comparatively ineffective at transferring heat, so the wearer stays fairly warm even after sweating heavily in cold conditions. And is warm when dry, of course.

Featuring flatlocked seams and shaped armholes, the NBL Light Long Sleeve undervest by Howies offers the performance benefits of Merino in a crew neck, slim-fit garment made in 150g wool yarn by Merino specialists Zque. The vest comes in four sizes – S, M, L and XL – and four colour options including the Greenbush shown. If worn under a lightweight jersey, the different panel colours can show through; we recommend the Ebony version if this is a concern.

Fit is snug and the feel of the fabric soft with a pleasing hint of coarsness to give immediate warmth when pulled on dry. In the picture the jersey is seen worn over a synthetic undervest. This worked well during the recent cold snap by adding a thin clothing layer that wicked what little moisture there was from the skin to the Merino, where it could be retained until removed by evaporation.

With the synthetic layer worn outside the Merino, it would have done nothing; two layers of Merino may have felt as warm but would have held more moisture and would therefore have been heavier. In recent warmer weather, the Howies baselayer worn on its own under a jersey has proven excellent.

Howies NBL Light Long Sleeve undervest £49.00; colours Burgundy, Ebony, Greenbush, Ocean; sizes S-XL

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