In any sport, maintaing peak physical condition is critical to success. Base layers - worn under your shirt - are an important part of doing that. They regulate your body temperature, protecting you from the elements whether that be during the summer or winter. In terms of material, most base layers are a mix of polyester and elastane, but some incoporate nylon, lycra and spandex.
Some tops, the compression variety, are skin-tight and focus on supporting your muscles as they work, while others are more loose-fitting and pride themselves more on warmth.
The winter months are rolling in, and we're in the midst of a Rugby World Cup, so we've focused mainly on picking base layers that suit rugby players in colder climates. However, many of these of these tops are multi-purpose, and can adapt to a number of sports and conditions. When testing, we were on the look out for comfort, flexibility and how well they maintain otpimum body temperature.
1. HeatGear ArmourVent Short Sleeve Compression T-Shirt: £40, underarmour.co.uk
This compression shirt from Under Armour manages to both cling tightly to your body and allow free movement, as if you weren’t even wearing it — the latter is not always the case with base layers. It comes in enough variety of colour to match your team’s.
2. Baselayer Cold Uglies Long Sleeve: £35.99, canterbury.com
Some base layers are designed to blend in with their surroundings — this one certainly isn’t. Apart from the famous design, which combines four different patterns, the tight-fitting top is adept at removing sweat and regulating body temperature. It excels in cold conditions.
3. Atomic Base Layer: £16.99-£19.99, gilbertrugby.com
If you want a base layer that will keep you warm but don’t have the budget to splash out, then opt for this from rugby specialists Gilbert. It’s less than £20 — the cheapest one on this list — but is well-shaped and provides support where you need it to.
4. Pro Hyperwarm Shield Fitted Mock Neck 2.0: £60, store.nike.com
This isn’t as compact as the other offerings but will keep you warm extremely well. The soft fabric which covers your neck prevents cold air from entering and also mops up sweat. Despite the range of materials used, it is comfortable. For when the temperature really plummets, this is probably your best bet.
5. Men’s Carbonyte Thermal Long Sleeve Baselayer Top: £38, skins.net
Skins specialise in compression sports clothing, so you can be sure of a well-tested and developed product from them. This base layer is warm but has ventilation strips on each side of the chest to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
6. Rapid Long Sleeve Compression Top: £26.95, rhinorugby.co.uk
Rhino only makes clothing for rugby players, so it understands what they’re after in a base layer. The silicone waistband on this one stops it from slipping up your body (a recurring and irritating issue with some base layers). The flat-lock stitching means it is less likely to chafe when you’re in game mode.
7. Techfit Base Long Sleeve Tee: £25, adidas.co.uk
Another top here that fits close enough to your body, and that is made of such light material, that you’ll soon forget you’re wearing it. The sleeves are long enough so that if you’re wearing gloves, there won’t be any exposed skin. It manages to keep you warm while also alleviating sweat.
The Adidas base layer is excellent value for money, considering how fit for purpose it is and the quality of manufacture. Although if you're willing to spend a bit more, and are after something that will certainly keep your warm during the freezing winter months, then we would recommend the offering from Nike.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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