Best wicking base layer?

Ok so here’s a conundrum…seems I’ve developed an allergic reaction to my own sweat. This is uncomfortable and unpleasant but also kind of inconvenient, as I have lately been riding up and down hills on chilly mornings and will be for the next couple of months. I need to invest in some really, really good, breathable, wicking base layers to help manage this. Brand recommendations anyone?

Wicking is just marketing hype. Drymax Sport Socks with DRYMAX removes moisture from your skin!

Is this allergic reaction self diagnosed or a professional medical diagnosis?

I wonder how many Phys Ed teachers have heard that over the years to get out of class…

Professionally diagnosed, twice (I didn’t credit the first one).

I’d try a Merino one as opposed to poly.

You will never look back after going Merino. I usually wear hiking base layers, still don’t smell after a full day out.

worth every single dollar.

I’ll second merino, got 3 swerve long sleves base layers i practically live in now.
Don’t stink even after multiple uses

Here’s another vote for merino. If it’s really cold I’ll wear two long sleeve base layers but I’ll always wear merino next to the skin.

The rapha merino base layers are my favourite piece of kit. I wear them every day on the bike, all year round. Hell, I’m wearing one now. I’ve got an Icebreaker merino base layer as well, but it’s ridiculous how much softer and more comfortable the rapha ones are.

Yeah wool FTW, natural and doesn’t stink. Hopefully it assists your allergy.

Bonds have 100% merino wool base layers for around $30 for short sleeve. They are pretty good.

Good deal, is that a special somewhere?

Best baselayer: merino, probably, but arguable.
Best wicking baselayer: synthetic hands down! Not merino!

I would advise against Merino. Yes, it is a great fabric, it doesn’t stink, it keeps you warm when it’s wet, it feels great on the skin, etc, etc, but it simply will not wick moisture away from your skin the same as a synthetic fabric. Merino will make you feel great, and you will feel warm and dry, but you actually will not be 100% dry. If you need your skin to be dry you need synthetic, simple as that.

As well as cycling, I’ve been hiking, climbing and mountaineering for years and I use a mix of synthetic and merino depending upon my activity. For hiking and rockclimbing I like merino, for pure comfort, warmth when I’m drenched and multi-day non-stink. But when I’m working really hard, I always choose synthetic. Especially when mountaineering, which makes riding up a “mountain” on carbon seem like you’re being pushed around in a pram. When mountaineering you’re also forced to wear a shell over the top of your baselayer, so you need excellent wicking properties, and I’ve found that wool just doesn’t cut it.

I like the Helly-Hansen Lifa fabric: Helly Hansen Online Store - Outdoor apparel, Sailing apparel, Skiing apparel and Technical Apparel - It’s a great weave and great fabric. I have a couple of long-sleeves, a short-sleeve and some tights and I always choose these for high-sweat activities. Keeps you dry and is really good when it’s stinking hot. Also known as Smelly Helly, but I haven’t found it to be too bad.

I’ve also got Polartec Powerdry: Polartec® : Overview. This is a fabric used by many good brands. I have two long-sleeves made by Karrimor that have been going strong for 8 years and they are outstanding. But I haven’t seen it sold anywhere for a while (Karrimor went bust). Be warned though that Polartec Powerdry is also well-known as Polartec Powerstink and your fumes will strip paint after a day or two, but it will keep you dry! It’s also a bit thicker than Lifa, so can get a bit hotter in mid-summer.

Another alternative is Lowe-Alpine Dryzone: Lowe Alpine - Manufacturers of outdoor equipment including packs and apparel for a wide range of activities.. My wife has some of this and rates it, but I haven’t used it personally. I had some friends who hiked/climbed the entire length of the NZ southern alps in a multi-month epic wearing this stuff non-stop. They also rated it.

In any case, I would recommend against going to a cycling shop to get advice on baselayers. Go to the outdoor shop district on Little Bourke Street. Speak to some true outdoorsman (the most experienced are at Bogong) and you’ll get good information on the performace of fabrics. In my experience I’ve found that the cycling industry just isn’t quite as up on this stuff as climbers.

EDIT: this guy gives a good basic summary: Review of Base Layer Materials | The Next Challenge


He’s just making conversation :stuck_out_tongue:
we all know he has no intention of buying any base layers (or any other torso covering garments for that matter)

Wait until somebody comes up with a clear one.

Or is that really just glad wrap?

I’ve always worn Polartec etc for snowboarding, but stinks like all hell. Merino rules for cycling…ATMO.

Thanks Beaker! You’ve convinced me on the Rapha ones.

Another vote for Merino. Icebreaker is the really nice stuff.

So, with the merino stuff you guys don’t wash it after every use, because of its lanoline content? Would have thought that the treatment and dyeing would have removed any of the natural oils. I wash my jersey and knicks daily because even a faintly sweaty garment is feral and I.m niether a heavy or stinky sweater.

Diddy is 100% right. Merino is fantastic but does not wick. It is like cotton. It absorbs. For best wicking (which is drawing sweat away from your body, and then increasing the surface area so it dries quicker) nothing beats synthetic.

Dont get me wrong, I have a shit-tonne of merino gear and love it, but if you are looking for the best sweat wicking base layer, forget it, and go with synthetic.

Brands suggested below are good. Also try MEC a Canadian co-op (cheap and super high quality, plus the really support environmental and community groups - cannot rate high enough!). And if you have the coin, Patagonia will last you a lifetime plus.

One handed typing so I’m gonna keep this short. But reread Diddy’s advice. He speaks the truth.