In awe of merino baselayers

Baselayers are just vests that don’t need to cost much, discuss? With baselayers from Vulpine and Rapha costing just shy of £100, it doesn’t seem like such a silly question. So it’s worth shifting the question and asking something along the lines of “can you wear your baselayer twice without smelling like a wet dog”?

Two of my favourite baselayer T-shirts are synthetic numbers that came as part of my Malmesbury triathlon finishers pack. Straight out of the wash they fit well, are soft and comfortable, and for the start of a ride work brilliantly, wicking sweat and/or providing some warmth depending on the weather conditions. But come the end of a ride and several years of personal odour is creeping from the fabric in a fairly noxious fashion, and don’t even think about letting it dry and wearing it again without washing – the olfactory impact is doubly bad in record time once that second work-out starts to warm up.

Unfortunately I have not yet found a synthetic fabric that doesn’t succumb to ‘wet dog’ syndrome, so I have a large collection of wear-once baselayers.

Bearing this in mind, if you think that  a reasonable synthetic baselayer is £25, then having two for consecutive days is £50, so suddenly paying similar for just one baselayer that would work over two days (or more) without cursing you to smell like an old dishrag doesn’t seem quite so bad.

My first two Chapeau Clothing merino baselayers arrived just after Christmas and with the abysmally wet weather we had in January, their first proper outing was a week’s skiing in France. That proved to be the perfect test for the ‘merino hype’ – baselayer on at 07.30 in the morning, didn’t come off until 18.00, with a full day of hectic red runs and a few beers in between, and repeated again the next day. The merino was miraculous and at the end of the second day was still wearable, just. The proof of this pudding will be to see how these wear over the year, and whether the merino starts to ‘absorb’ any residual odour… we shall wait and smell (but hopefully not much).

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