A wise prophet once proclaimed 'it's all about the bass, bout the bass' (Trainor, 2014) and she was right you know. Base layers are a key wardrobe item for me and my fellow RRR writer, be it for keeping warm in winter or cool in summer there is a base layer to suit all needs. A new one to me though was a windproof base layer, which offered a solution to quite a specific problem that I had.
I commute three days a week, I ride with a back pack rather than panniers and as such tend to get quite hot, particularly on my back. With the weather turning and temperatures dropping I set about looking for something that offered me some wind protection but wasn't too heavy or thick so as to overheat me. I initially looked at jerseys, particularly the Rapha Brevet Windblock but with an rrp of £135 I needed some serious persuasion. It ticked all the boxes, windproof front, light material on the back but with commuting use in mind I couldn't justify the price tag.
I then hit the search engine for some more ideas and came across windproof base layers, specifically the Craft Be Active Extreme Windstopper Short Sleeve Base Layer (to give it its full name!). Craft are a Swedish company so you'd like to think they know how to make garments that protect you from the elements.
Using the online size guide and measuring up I went for a large, I'm just over a 40" chest and it fits perfectly, snug without being too tight. It came nicely packaged in a re-sealable bag and has branding from Gore alluding to its windstopper properties.
Upon taking it out the bag it's clear to see and feel that this is a high quality product, the chest and shoulder panels indicate the windstopper sections with the rest of the garment being made up of layers of Coolmax Extreme Fresh FX that resists odour, Hexachannel Coolmax Extreme inside for optimal cooling and moisture control and Isolate Thermolite hollow fibres on the outside of the base layer for warmth.
I've been using the base layer since about mid October, I've found it's perfect when the temperature is around 8c or lower, above that and it's too hot. This of course depends entirely on what jersey you have been wearing over it, the three I have been are either an Altura Roubaix, Castelli Gabba 2 or Luxa Aquazero. Across the three I've found pretty much the same with regards to the base layers temperature range. Of particular note were how it coped with the cold spell we had at the end of November, 0-1c frosty mornings which with windchill were giving effective temperatures of -3c or so, I was warm and protected throughout, a real testament to the effectiveness of this garment.
If you need some protection from the wind, it's definitely worth thinking about the solution from a different angle, base layers offer versatility and extend the range of conditions of some of the existing garments in your wardrobe can cope with and the Craft Windstopper is no exception.
The rrp is £50, it's worth that, I paid £25 during a sale and have to say that was a bargain and one of the best bits of kit in my wardrobe at present.
6 Dec 18 - MN