Base Layers: The Starting Point For Your Cycling Wardrobe

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Our friends at Cycle Superstore give their take on different items of clothing you should have in your wardrobe and what you should look out for when purchasing these items.

First up is Base Layers, something which is often overlooked and underappreciated. When it comes to putting your cycling kit on, you should think of it as an onion (layer upon layer but hopefully without the eye watering). The foundation should be the base layer.  Its main purpose is to help regulate your body temperature and help your body’s natural defences against overheating. In the summer, it will wick away the sweat and keep you cool and, in the winter, it will keep you warm without the clammy feeling.   

When it comes to choosing a particular base layer, there is an array of options available on the market. All the clothing manufacturers will offer base layers designed for a specific time of the year.  However, irrespective of the time of year, the base layer should be tight fitting.  The tight nature of the fitting will trap air between you and the clothing and prevent cold air getting in, especially during the winter months.

Most base layers are made from either a man-made fabric (like polyester) or a natural material (like merino wool). Both materials have their advantages over one another. Base layers, containing man made materials, are usually high performance in nature and aimed at warm weather conditions, when sweat management and cooling effects are important.

A natural material commonly used in base layers is merino wool. This is a natural fiber grown by merino sheep. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool – making it easy to wear next to skin. It offers the same properties as man made fabric, however, its other advantage is its ability to cancel out odours.

There is an array of styles and cuts to choose from.  Manufacturers will offer you the option of sleeveless, short sleeve or full sleeve.  Which one you choose is down to an individual’s own preference, however pay attention for tightness under the armpits, which may occur if you are wearing a short sleeve version when you assume the cycling position.  As it will be against your skin, it’s imperative you are comfortable with it, so some manufacturers offer a seamless option giving you a frictionless feel next to your skin.

Whatever design or material you choose for your base layer, our advice is always the same. Wear a base layer all year round.