During warm weather here in Texas (which is about eight months out of the year) I like to wear just a cycling jersey next to my skin. But if the temperature gets below 70 degrees (21C), I add a base layer.
I haven’t been too particular about what kind of base layer I use. I’ve got three. Two are polyester items from Jockey, a sleeveless and a t-shirt. I have since added another t-shirt from Performance, which fits looser than the Jockey items.
The whole idea behind moisture wicking fabrics is to pull moisture from your skin and cause it to evaporate quickly, keeping you dry and comfortable. My experience is that there is something to that, but it doesn’t work as completely as the catalogs would have you believe.
When I get back from my rides, my base layer is usually soaked. There doesn’t seem to be any area on it that isn’t wet with sweat (admittedly, I am a heavy sweater). The moisture does transfer from the base layer to my other clothing layers. If I’m wearing a windbreaker over my jersey, the windbreaker is usually wet, too.
The best luck I’ve had is with the Performance tee. I think that might be because the item doesn’t cling to my skin and make me look like I’m wearing a sausage casing. There are folds and wrinkles that I think might help with moisture transfer. After a brisk ride Sunday morning, I was perfectly comfortable sitting outdoors in cool weather as we relaxed at the coffee shop.
So that makes me wonder: Have you had different experiences with different types of base layer? Have you got some that are your go-to items for certain weather conditions, or are they all pretty much the same as far as you’re concerned?
Now, I must admit that I’m not a real student of the properties of different wicking fabrics. I’ve worn polyester. I haven’t owned a wool base layer, or a wool jersey. I haven’t used high-end base layers, like those from Craft or Helly-Hansen. So I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences, and see if there is a real difference in base layer wicking properties, or if they’re all pretty much the same.