Baselayers are one of those overlooked pieces of kit… why invest in something that doesn’t show, doesn’t keep the rain or wind off, further does it really make much difference what it’s made of?
Over nearly 30 years of outdoor pursuits, I’ve moved through the various technologies and am now about to embrace ‘proper’ merino baselayers for cycling. I’m sure if you dug deep enough in the drawers at home, you could probably find an originnal blue Helly Hansen baselayer – they were pretty good when they were new, but lost any shape, shrinking wear-by-wear, in no time at all. The next ‘batch’ of thermals suffered from that distinct lingering odour, but at the time I was kayaking lots, so just assumed that encasing a sweaty boy in a waterproof layers with the base layer in between would always result in something fairly rancid that a washing machine would struggle to clean properly.
My recent base baselayer of choice in the colder months has been a Lowe Alping lomg sleeve, which has been wonderfully soft and not too smelly. When it’s been warmer, I’ve been using a couple of Mizuno mesh t-shirst that I recieved at the end of a couple of Malmesbury Triathlons, but they definitely suffer from ‘odour’ and are definitely “worn-once-and-in-the-wash” shirts.
Having just treated myself to a Rapha long-sleeve jersey and wind jacket, I thought that I ought to bite the bullet and get ‘proper’ base layers to make this whole layering system work in the best possible way. I’ve not got several rides and a weeks skiing under the belt of my Chapeau Clothing base layers and they’re proving to be fantastic. I know that you shouldn’t boast about not having to wash clothes (it’s probably a ‘boy’ thing), but easily getting two decent length rides out of one base layer without ending up stinking a damp Labrador is a joyous thing.