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12 best men’s cycling base layers: From merino wool to synthetic

Get yourself some top quality kit that’s versatile enough for even the most unpredictable rides

Aaron Roe
Wednesday 11 November 2020 18:31 GMT
We’ve tested these layers on sunny late-summer spins through to  autumn downpours to find you the best there is
We’ve tested these layers on sunny late-summer spins through to autumn downpours to find you the best there is

A good base layer is worth buying, whether you plan to be out training on the roads or spinning away on an indoor trainer at the gym. 

The best ones will help you avoid getting too hot or too cold and wick away the sweat you produce while riding hard. They don’t have to be kept just for cycling either, many will come in handy if you like to hit the slopes skiing or need an extra layer when hiking.

While merino wool is favoured by many as the perfect material to use, modern synthetic fabrics can be cheaper and just as comfortable. Merino can’t be beaten when it comes to staying fresh, though – making it a great choice if you need a layer you can wear a few times without it being washed, maybe on the commute to work.

When it comes to washing, merino tops are now pretty easy to care for and will handle a cooler machine wash, although base layers of any material can’t usually be thrown into the tumble dryer.

During the winter months you can often get away with just a long-sleeved base layer beneath a wind or rain-proof jacket, and when the really cold weather arrives you can slip a jersey between them for some extra protection. 

Although it may seem counterintuitive, a vest-style top under your cycling jersey can really help you to stay comfortable in the summer by drawing away sweat and cooling you more rapidly.

We put our selections to the test in a range of conditions from sunny late-summer spins through to multi-hour autumn downpours. A few of the lighter ones were put through their paces on an indoor bike trainer too. We also washed and dried them to see how they stand up to real-world usage.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The verdict: Men’s cycling base layers

Our best buy from Spatz really is the ultimate cycling base layer for wild weather – it’s aimed at serious athletes who need to train in all conditions, and it has been designed using input from the professional peloton. If you want something you can slip on at the gym or on your home trainer take a look at the sleeveless offering from Stolen Goat. Stylish cyclists will love the unusual Café du Cycliste number with its eye-catching collar.

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