The Northwave Karbon Tex base layer is a good option for very cold conditions – of which we’ve had no shortage – but it quickly finds its limit when the temperature nudges anywhere near double figures.
Base layers come in all different shapes and sizes but this is one of the more interesting designs. It’s essentially a long sleeve polyester base layer – nothing new there – but with a windproof panel on front to, well, keep the wind off your chest.
The polyester itself is exceptionally thick and very warm in its own right. The base layer has a ribbed exterior, while the inside is very soft and sits well next to your skin. Things get interesting on the front, where there are essentially two layers: one made out of the same polyester fabric as the rest of the base layer, and a windproof panel which Northwave say has a dusting of carbon fibre in it, thus giving the base layer its name.
Carbon or no carbon, the windproof panel is very effective. There’s no substitute for having a windproof outer layer but the base layer is useful in providing additional protection from the elements in very coldest of conditions. We also found the Northwave Karbon Tex base layer most useful when paired with a mid-weight winter jersey on rides of around five degrees as it allows you to wear an outer layer which isn’t necessarily windproof, without giving cold air a completely free reign to hit your chest.
The polyester fabric is, on the whole, fairly breathable when worn in the right conditions, but we found the base layer to get a fairly clammy on the inside of the front panel when riding hard or in more palatable weather. With that in mind, the Northwave Karbon Tex base layer is a useful addition to the winter wardrobe, particularly if you’re determined to ride whatever the weather, but one which might not be used day in, day out.