Home Cycling Best cycling baselayers: Top recommendations for road and MTB

Best cycling baselayers: Top recommendations for road and MTB

    Did you know that you could be more aerodynamic when you ride?    It may seem obvious, but choosing the right baselayer can reduce the wind resistance that you will feel. This will allow you to go faster,    and to enjoy the ride more, as you are more in control.

In this post, I’ll be giving you some recommendations on the best cycling baselayers, since they are the most important item to consider when you’re on the bike. The best cycling baselayers are usually thermal, meaning they keep you warm, and are designed to be as packable as possible. This means finding a top layer that stretches and wicks moisture away from your body but does not lose its insulating properties. Since the best cycling baselayers are designed to be as packable as possible, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best baselayer for road cycling and mountain biking.

This article is the first part of a two-part series on what you should be wearing to cycle in. Our first article introduced you to the benefits of wearing cycling-specific baselayers and the different types of baselayers available. But what should you be wearing when cycling? And how can you improve your performance and comfort with the right gear choices? We’ve got the answers for you, and we’re going to start with a look at those cycling-specific baselayers.

Baselayers are designed to keep you warm and comfortable as you ride. They do this in two ways: they trap a layer of air near your body to keep you warm, and they transfer perspiration away from your skin to keep you dry.

A cycling baselayer, to be more technical, is the bottom layer of a multi-layer clothing system intended to control the temperature difference between the inside and outside of your clothes.

As a result, you’ll probably wear them on all save the warmest days.

We put on a variety of winter and summer baselayers that are appropriate for both road and mountain riding and put them to the test.

We’ve included a buyer’s guide at the end of the post that covers all you need to know about baselayers and how to choose the best one for you. Let’s get to the suggestions…

The best baselayers, according to our expertise

5 stars

  • £23.99 Super Thermo C-Shirt by Brynje
  • Warm Fuseknit Intensity: £60 Warm Fuseknit Intensity Advance Craft: £60
  • £55 (US$90) / €60 (EU) Chrono Giro
  • £69.99 Long-sleeve Gore M Windstopper  

4.5 stars

  • £38 (about $55) or €45 (around €45). Transrib Endura
  • Merino Specialized: £65 / $90 / €75 / £65 / $90 / €75

4 stars

  • Summer Alpinestars Tech Top: £55 / $80
  • £70 ($100) / AU$100 €80 / $160 LIFA Merino Midweight Crew by Helly Hansen
  • Madison Merino Isoler: £50
  • £50 / $63 / $75 AUD 1/4 Zip Nukeproof Merino
  • £100 / $125 / €109 / £100 / $125 / €109 / £100 Grido Santini

Brynje Super Thermo C-Shirt

Best cycling baselayers

The Brynje Super Thermo mesh may not be attractive, but it performs well. Immediate Media / Jack Luke

  • Women’s / Men’s
  • £23.99

The Super Thermo from Norwegian company Brynje is a baselayer composed of a polypropylene mesh that is legendary in outdoor circles.

Although it may seem odd, this baselayer is very comfortable, especially durable, and offers excellent value for money.

The mesh is comfortable against the skin and takes up a lot of sweat but doesn’t absorb it, resulting in a layer that dries very quickly.

We prefer the sleeveless variant, but there are also sleeved and women’s-specific versions available.

Despite not being designed for cycling, the baselayer is extremely long and easily tucks into bib shorts. The size had no unexpected shocks for us, but they’re so elastic that you’d be hard pressed to go wrong.

We’ve put many of them through years of usage and numerous wash cycles and have found no issues with their longevity.

Craft Advance Warm Fuseknit Intensity

Craft Advance Warm Fuseknit Intensity long sleeve baselayer

Craft’s baselayer wowed our testers with its great fit, precise cut, and nice neck profile.

The fabric backs this up with a ‘3D knit,’ which gives it a nice chunky but not too heavy feel, boosting the thermal properties and making it feel more substantial for use in cold weather. And it’s certainly a winter baselayer – it’s much too hot to wear in the summer. Craft also offers a slimmer version for hotter temperatures.

This highly technical shirt has body-mapping throughout, with thicker fabric in certain places for warmth and thinner fabric in others to enable sweatier areas to breathe easier.

It washes nicely, dries quickly, and is simple to maintain. It’s expensive at £60, but it’s well worth it if you want to remain warm and comfy in chilly weather.

Giro Chrono

Best cycling baselayers

When we were planning long days on the bike, the Chrono became our go-to baselayer. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Men’s
  • £55 / $90 / €60

The Giro seemed small right out of the box, but because to the elasticity in the fabric, it not only fit, but it was also very comfortable and warm. When worn beneath bibs or backpacks, the body-hugging fit avoids humid and damp areas, and the seamless torso eliminates annoying stitching that may create hotspots.

We grew to appreciate it as a great all-arounder the more we wore it. It’s neither too hot or too cold, which is exactly what a baselayer is for: to keep you comfortable through a variety of exercise intensities and weather situations.

It handles the heat and perspiration of high-intensity riding excellently, while being as comfortable as can be anticipated during the unavoidable pauses when you’re prone to becoming chilled. It wicks perspiration well, doesn’t retain moisture, and has a fit that is tailored to the riding posture.

The waist and sleeves remained put and never rode up, despite the fact that it seemed to be tiny. With its mid-weight fabric, it may easily be worn from fall to spring in the UK without overheating or undergunning.

It isn’t cheap, but you get a very durable and flexible baselayer that received universal praise from all of our tests.

Gore M Windstopper long-sleeve

Best cycling baselayers

As you’d expect from Gore, the build quality is superb. Immediate Media / Russell Burton

  • Men’s/Women’s
  • £69.99

The Gore M Swindstopper long-sleeve baselayer’s water-resistant and windproof polypropylene fabric has excellent sweat-wicking properties. As you’d expect for the price, the build quality is great.

This clothing allowed us to bike without a jacket all the way into fall, but it also worked great with a contemporary lightweight insulated jacket in colder weather.

The M Windstopper paired with an insulated windproof jacket proved to be a successful combo in sub-zero temperatures.

Endura Transrib

Best cycling baselayers

We love how dry it is when it comes out of the washing machine. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Men’s
  • £38 / $55 / €45

The Transrib is a low-cost baselayer that is simple, effective, and long-lasting. When worn beneath a light, wind-permeable riding jersey in the warmer months, the synthetic CoolMax material is knitted into a ribbed shape, enabling it to trap more air when additional wind-resistant layers are worn on top and stay fairly cool when worn under a thin, wind-permeable riding jersey.

As much as various layers are required for different seasons, this one may be worn in a broad range of temperatures and circumstances.

The fit is great, though a little tiny for the size, but it’s flexible and body-hugging in all the right places. While the fabric isn’t nearly as soft as Merino and is a little scratchy and abrasive, it isn’t bad by any means.

We also like that it comes out of the washing machine nearly dry, allowing for quick turnaround between rides.

Merino Wool With A Twist

Best cycling baselayers

The fit is fantastic, with body-mapping regions for heated or breathable panels. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Women’s / Men’s
  • £65 / $90 / €75

The Specialized shirt blends a Dryarn synthetic inner face with merino on the outside, despite the name implying a pure wool construction. This inner fabric should, in theory, wick moisture away from your skin fast, while the wool layer provides a nice feel and a boost of warmth.

In practice, it was a huge success. The fit is superb, with body-mapping regions providing heated or breathable panels as needed. It’s perforated at the top of the neck and beneath the arms, for example, to allow perspiration to escape. All of this combined to make it a tester favorite for riding comfort in a variety of situations.

We were concerned about the collar’s durability, since it began to wobble somewhat towards the end of the test period – it might be poor luck or a washing problem, but for £65, it wouldn’t be ideal if it continued.

Summer Alpinestars Tech Top

Best cycling baselayers

A fantastic summer baselayer that will undoubtedly be at the forefront of our warm-weather wardrobe. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

Hand this Alpinestars treasure to anybody who doubts the value of a baselayer in warm weather. It’s as light as a feather, with excellent flexibility and support, a generous length, and well-proportioned short sleeves.

Its body-mapped design thins the fabric to an almost open mesh in areas where you need to shed more heat and moisture, minimizing the likelihood of wet and unpleasant regions. The torso is seamless, like with many others we’ve tested, which minimizes the possibility of pressure spots if you’re wearing a pack or armour over the top.

While the pricing may seem to be a bit high for what appears to be a lightweight T-shirt, as we understood the technological cut and body-mapping, it became less so.

A fantastic summer baselayer that will undoubtedly be at the forefront of our warm-weather wardrobe.

Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Midweight Crew

Best cycling baselayers

The LIFA Merino Midweight is a reliable cold-weather companion. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Women’s / Men’s
  • £70 / $100 / AU$160 / €80

This Helly Hansen baselayer, which comes in a wide range of colors, proved to be a reliable cold-weather companion. It has a layered fabric with a LIFA (the brand’s typical synthetic fabric) inside to help with moisture transmission and a Merino outside for better thermal qualities and feel.

We discovered that it became heavy with perspiration during high-intensity rides, lingering in the Merino layer and requiring longer to dry, so we concluded it was best suited to low-to-mid-intensity day rides when moisture build-up shouldn’t be a problem.

We didn’t scoff at the price since the fabric feel and general quality were as excellent as you’d expect for the price.

Because all of the testers thought the cut was roomy, it may be worth scaling down from your normal dimensions to achieve a better, more athletic fit.

Merino Madison Isoler

Best cycling baselayers

It’s not so cycling-specific that it can’t be used for other outdoor activities as well. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

The Isoler is one of the few pure Merino baselayers we’ve tested, and it has all of the qualities you’d expect from the material. It was a hit with our testers since it was soft to the touch, flexible enough to figure-hug to a degree, and toasty even when wet.

When the going gets hot, it holds more moisture than the synthetics and becomes heavier as a consequence, so we preferred it for less strenuous rides when the added feel and thermal qualities were extremely useful.

The wrists are a bit large, which is great if you’re wearing a big sports watch beneath, but it left a lot of extra fabric that we’d prefer not have.

It’s a fantastic deal for Merino, and it’s not so cycling-specific that it can’t be used for other outdoor sports as well.

Nukeproof Merino 1/4 Zip

Best cycling baselayers

For solid days on the hill, this is an excellent baselayer. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Men’s
  • £50 / $63 / AU$75

The Nukeproof is no exception when it comes to the feel of a solid Merino jersey. The Merino wool was delightfully soft to the touch, remained warm when wet, repelled smells, and absorbed moisture.

However, the fit was a bit loose and not nearly as body-hugging as we’d want for an efficient baselayer for high-intensity rides.

It’s not great for super-sweaty rides since it’s Merino, but it’s excellent for lengthy, cool-weather days out. With its tight high-neck to keep the cold at bay and thumb loops to keep wrists protected, it was ideal under such circumstances.

On the hills, we also made excellent use of the quarter zip to control our temperature, resulting in less perspiration build-up. For solid days on the hill, this is an excellent baselayer.

Santini Grido

Best cycling baselayers

It’s a really comfortable baselayer – the fit and feel are excellent. Immediate Media / Andy McCandlish

  • Men’s
  • £100 / $125 / €109

Although we questioned the rationale of a thermal baselayer with short sleeves, it does have its place — for example, beneath a light jersey on a cooler summer day.

Santini is trying to blend the advantages of synthetic wicking with natural insulation and feel using a Polartec Power Wool layered mix of flexible synthetic on the exterior and Merino on the inside. It’s a really comfortable baselayer – the fit and feel are excellent, and it immediately became a favorite among our testers.

However, the price is difficult to ignore, as there are others on the market that are almost half the price that are just as comfortable and high-performing. If your pockets are deep and the short-sleeved style doesn’t float your boat, Santini also offers a long-sleeved version of the identical baselayer, which is certainly worth a look.

What are baselayers and how do they work?

Some baselayers drain moisture away from the skin through capillary action (the inner face of the fabric contains many small gaps to make it porous), while others use hydrophilic coatings that actively pull moisture through the garment.

With either case, the goal is to transfer moisture away from the skin to aid in body temperature regulation.

What is the composition of baselayers?

Merino wool vs. polyester

Best cycling baselayers

Merino wool, a natural fiber that is inherently smell resistant, is used in certain baselayers, although it does not dry as fast as polyester. Immediate Media / Ben Delaney

Baselayers are composed of synthetic fibers (such as polyester mixes) or natural fibers in general (in most cases, Merino wool).

Hollow channels may be added to synthetic fibres to assist the wicking process, making them very effective in moving perspiration and drying fast. The disadvantage is that they stink quickly, therefore most now come with an antibacterial treatment.

Merino wool is inherently antimicrobial, allowing it to be worn for long periods of time without having to be washed, and it is typically delightfully soft on the skin. Although it retains its capacity to insulate, it does not wick as effectively, takes longer to dry, and may feel wet close to your skin.

For the best combination of comfort and performance, many higher-end baselayers are now constructed from a blend of wool and synthetic fibers. As a result, they offer a lot of warmth for a less amount of weight and dry quicker than pure wool.

What to look for when purchasing a baselayer

Aside from the material used, there are additional factors to consider when selecting a baselayer.

It’s also essential to consider the fit, the thickness of the material, the amount of warmth you’ll need, and smell control.

Temperature (but not too much)

Best cycling baselayers

Windproof textiles are used in certain baselayers, such as this one from Gore. Immediate Media / Russell Burton

Baselayers keep you warm by trapping air close to your skin. This effect may be attributed to the weave pattern, the cloth fibers used, or a combination of the two. The thicker the baselayer, the colder the circumstances.

The warmth of your baselayer is determined by how warm you are naturally and how warm you want to remain. Some riders can ride in sub-zero temperatures with just a light baselayer and a shell, while others need three thicknesses of fleece simply to go out in the fall.

Some baselayers have a windproof panel built into the front for maximum warmth, but this may limit ventilation while you’re working hard.

Baselayers, on the other hand, aren’t only for chilly or cold weather. Many riders swear by baselayers all year, even in the hottest months of the year, when a lightweight or mesh baselayer may help keep you cool by wicking perspiration away from your skin.

Do you want your sleeves to be long, short, or none at all?

Best cycling baselayers

If you want your baselayer to have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves, this is an essential decision. Immediate Media / Ben Delaney

If you’re going to wear sleeves, the first thing you should think about is how long you want them to be.

If all of your jerseys have short sleeves, you won’t need a long-sleeved baselayer. Short-sleeved baselayers are more versatile than long-sleeved baselayers, but they won’t keep you as warm in the winter, and the sleeves may bunch up over your shoulders, particularly beneath some of today’s tightly cut shirts.

Whether you like short or long sleeves, raglan designs are the way to go. Raglan sleeves go all the way up to the collar and across the shoulder. Instead of ringing your shoulder, the design utilizes a diagonal seam that goes from your armpit to your collarbone, giving your arms greater range of movement.

Another alternative is to wear a sleeveless top. A sleeveless, string-vest type garment may be the way to go if you can’t stand going without a baselayer on even the warmest days.

There should be as few seams and zips as feasible.

As a general rule, the fewer seams and zips the better. Because a baselayer is worn so near to your skin, you’ll want to avoid anything that may snag, nip, rub, or irritate it as much as possible.

However, you won’t be able to avoid seams completely, so seek for clothing with seams in areas where they won’t obstruct your motions. Because the junction between fabric panels is level rather than lipped, flatlock stitched seams are less likely to irritate the skin than cover stitched seams, therefore look for these.

Contour mapping is a technique in which the weave of a fabric is altered so that the structure may map to the form of the body without the need of many panels and seams.

Best cycling baselayers

To avoid skin irritation, go for as few seams and zips as feasible. Immediate Media / Ben Delaney

Managing odors

Baselayers can stink, so any substance that prevents germs from forming is a plus. Merino wool naturally resists smells because the fibers are smooth, allowing germs to hide and fester.

Unfortunately, germs thrive in the rougher fibres of synthetic baselayers. Some tops contain a microbacterial treatment that keeps them at bay for a while, but after a few rides, all synthetic tops develop a distinct nose odor.

Of course, the solution is simple: wash your baselayer(s) on a regular basis, but it’s something to think about if that’s not an option (on a multi-day tour or bikepacking trip, for example).

Activated carbon-treated fabric is used in certain high-tech synthetic shirts to trap odors and release them throughout the wash and dry cycle.

Collars that are suitable for the season

Best cycling baselayers

A high neck is seen on certain winter baselayers to keep the warmth in. Immediate Media / Russell Burton

Because some baselayers have high collars and are designed for winter usage, they may be too warm to wear in the summer.

When the temperature lowers, a lighter baselayer with a lower collar is more appropriate for warmer weather and may be worn with a high-collared jersey/jacket and neck warmer.

Hems that are longer

Best cycling baselayers

It’s easier to keep critical regions covered with a longer hem. Immediate Media / Phil Hall

The bottom of the baselayer is just as essential as the top, so seek for one that goes a bit farther down than the average top.

It doesn’t have to be a cycling-specific cut, but a baselayer with a longer body offers greater coverage and allows more material to overlap, reducing the chances of being exposed if your jersey rides up or your shorts slip down.

Meanwhile, an articulated cut ensures that the sleeves bend with the bend of your elbows while you’re riding, rather than being left straight. This is more comfortable and avoids the cloth from bunching or riding up.

Long-sleeve baselayers with thumb loops may help keep your hands toasty in the cold. When you’re layering up or putting winter gloves on top, they’re also excellent for keeping your sleeves in place.

Taking good care of your baselayer

Baselayers may generally be washed with the rest of your gear, but since they’re usually made of soft fabrics, it’s better to avoid washing them in the same load as Velcro clothing because snags can damage a baselayer.

Consider using a wash bag (or, if you don’t have one, a pillowcase) if you’re concerned about snags.

If you want to keep a baselayer from stinking, wash it in hot water to get rid of any lingering germs. However, before you put them in a hot wash, double-check the washing instructions since Merino wool shrinks at high temperatures. Also, pay attention to the drying directions, since this may cause baselayers to shrink.

If you have a wicking baselayer that can’t be cleaned in hot water but smells like you just wore it on a five-hour ride straight from the washing machine, Nikwax and Grangers manufacture detergents especially for removing odour-causing germs from your wicking layer. Active washes from Assos and Rapha are also available.

You’ve heard that cycling is a good cardiovascular workout. You’ve heard that by wearing a baselayer, you’ll stay warm and comfortable. Maybe you’ve even worn them yourself. But what about the top-rated baselayers available to the cycling and mountain biking community? Are they worth the time, money, and effort?. Read more about cycling base layer canada and let us know what you think.

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The best base layer for cycling is the one that fits you best. There are many different types of materials used in cycling clothing, so its important to find a material that works well with your body temperature and sweat levels.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”Is a cycling base layer worth it?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best base layer for cycling?

The best base layer for cycling is the one that fits you best. There are many different types of materials used in cycling clothing, so its important to find a material that works well with your body temperature and sweat levels.

Is a cycling base layer worth it?

Yes, a cycling base layer is worth it because it can help you to stay cool and dry.

Is merino wool good for cycling?

Merino wool is a type of fiber that is often used in cycling clothing because it can keep you warm and dry.

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