I’ve never been much of a fashion victim and less so when it comes to the clothing I wear for mountain bike riding. But one thing I do pay attention to is making sure I have the right clothing that fits the season and delivers what I need in terms of comfort and durability. Of course, what you will need depends also on your local climate and the protection you will need from local hazards.
I saw a video recently featuring a young woman out on one of her local trails in Arizona where there was a lot of cactus growing. She was dressed entirely for hot-weather and completely unprotected for the crash into several cacti that left her looking like a pin-cushion. The removal process was long and painful.
Mountain biking is hazardous, and we can’t always protect from every eventuality but with well-designed clothing, we can do plenty to help and keep us on the trails.
Winter is Coming
OK, I hear you, it’s summer where you live. I live in the south of France and the temperature has dropped from 40 Celsius in August to single figures and frequent rain showers in the last two weeks. It’s been snowing above 2000 meters and it won’t be long before it lands in the lower valleys. Shorts, top, knee and elbow pads are no longer enough. New challenges await.
Unless I can see that rain or snow are going to fall, I wear two layers of clothing and carry a third in my pack (waterproof jacket). The base layer is worn against the skin with a layer over the base. Each has a purpose, and the layers work together to wick away sweat, hold in heat, and keep out the elements.
What is wicking?
All base layers should be made from wicking materials and not cotton because it has no wicking capabilities and typically absorbs moisture, making you feel wet and cold. Positive wicking fabrics draw sweat away from the body and direct moisture to the middle and outer layers. The surface area of wicking materials is greater than cotton and enables moisture to evaporate.
How should a base layer fit?
To work efficiently, the fabric of a base layer needs to fit close to the skin and base layers are typically designed to do just that. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to extract the moisture. On a warm weather ride, I prefer to wear only a base layer because it’s light, allows airflow and it’s comfortable and it still extracts the moisture.
If you too like to ride hard, mountain biking is strenuous and more so in wintry weather when exposure to the cold can more easily lead to injury. Cold weather exposure weakens muscles and they become more susceptible to injury. Base layers are designed to keep your core muscles warm and working optimally as well as throwing out moisture.
Base layer weights
You can find a base layer weight for every season to accommodate your activity levels and the local temperature.
What to look for
The dhb Merino Long Sleeve base layer provides outstanding thermal regulation across a range of climate conditions.
It’s manufactured from the highest quality, super fine Australian merino wool and is soft, comfy and itch-free. The inner core of the fibre is hydrophilic (water loving) while the outer surface is hydrophobic (water repelling), allowing it to absorb a greater amount of moisture before it feels wet compared to synthetic fibres.
Traditional wool is still used to fashion base layers, but the older fabric has been replaced by merino wool which features exceptionally soft fibers. Lightweight and soft on the skin too. Unlike synthetic materials, wool relies more on moisture absorption rather than wicking. A base layer of merino wool can hold 30% of its own weight in water absorption before the wearer is able to notice it on their skin. Even while soaked with sweat, the dhb merino construction allows the material to breathe and the unique outer-layer repels the moisture.
During cold weather riding it makes for the perfect next to skin first layer. It effectively traps warmth whilst still maintaining breathability and a comfortable body temperature. The natural breathability of the wool results in moisture quickly evaporating when the fibres can’t hold any more, helping you maintain your temperature and avoid overheating during more intensive and vigorous efforts such as sprints and hill climbs.
Maintaining warmth in cold weather and helping maintain a cooler, dry feel when it’s mild this merino base layer is versatile enough to cater for any type of condition during any season so you wouldn’t need a different one for every season.
I expected it to itch. It didn’t, so that was a bonus. On the downside, it is slower to dry than other fabrics, it can shrink if washing instructions aren’t followed and is prone to moth damage if not safely stored. On average, it’s more expensive than base layers made from other materials. But don’t let that put you off, this really is an excellent product that makes a positive difference. I wear mine for skiing too!
Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) have started early this year with remarkable offers worldwide for each week during November. You can pick up a dhb Merino base layer in all sizes for 37% less than the usual price. Click on the banner and then the flag, top right of CRC’s site to change to your local currency and availability. Be sure to use the size guide if you decide to go for one of these. Remember, a snug fit is essential to effectiveness. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right, CRC’s customer service is excellent, and they have a 365 day returns policy.
Please note that if you do buy from CRC, I will receive an affiliate commission, but this does not affect your buyer rights or the price you will pay. You can read more about this by clicking on “Affiliate Links” on the right side of the main menu here at justridemtb101.
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