We still have 1-2 more months of winter in the northern states. My dad resides in Yuma, Arizona and would call 40°’s winter, but whatever your cold tolerance is, baselayers can be a key component to enjoying the outdoors. Baselayers need to wick away moisture in cold temperatures and should be lightweight and fit snugly against your skin but not restrict movement.
Sizes available: XS-XXL (MD reviewed)
The Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants are lightweight with a 4-way stretchable peach skin fabric. What the heck is peach skin fabric?! The fabric has a fuzzy texture like the skin of a peach. The bottoms are moisture wicking, have an antibacterial treatment and feature a few reflective stripes.
The 1.5 inch elastic waistband is designed to stay up while being active. I’ll admit to having become a little schluppy this winter and found the elastic to be very snug and definitely not going anywhere. No matter if I was biking, jogging or hiking, under a mid-layer or under an outer layer, these did not fail me in warmth.
I like everything I own to be multi-useful. With base layers, I want to be able to wear mine as tights under a dress for quick changing after an activity or sleep in them if it’s too cold (or I am too lazy to change). They were almost to warm to sleep in, which isn’t a bad thing if I was camping in the cold. With the large branding on the lower right leg, I had to bust out the tall boots to make them work off the bike, but that also isn’t a deal breaker.
After 8 weeks of use and washing, the material has started to pill in the token wear spots: knees and arse. But there are no tears, no sweat sag and no reduction in warmth. They are high quality for a baselayer legging at $40. The Drytex 2004 pants are available in men’s and women’s cut and Garneau gets bonus points for going up to a XXL in both.
Sizes available: XS-L (MD reviewed)
This long sleeve baselayer is a Merino Wool and Polyester blend with moisture-wicking qualities. The material percent distribution varies throughout the top, with a micro-waffle type construction to help wick away those notorious sweat areas: back and under the arms. There is a more stretchable Lycra material along the back of the arm to the elbow for handlebar reaching without feeling like you are about to hulk out the back of your top.
There are thumb loops that are a simple stretchy loop with a 1/4 inch width that looks like it could be uncomfortable but felt fine even when wearing 3 layers of clothes. Pearl Izumi has this long sleeve baselayer rated at 20°-40° temperature and the top performed well in these temps. Even in the mid-teens, I was never concerned about my body temperature while being active. As a higher end baselayer top priced at $90, it got the job done well and looks and feels like it will last a few years of steady wear.
Svelte London is a small cycling clothing brand that is a product of the Kickstarter generation and is focused on keeping its products European. Production of the company’s line for men and women started only this year and takes place in East London (jerseys), Italy (bibs) and Portgual (baselayers). They are also a part of the generation of more subtle, comfortable cycling clothing that focuses on a few, well-made pieces.
“The vision for Svelte is to create well-designed, minimalist clothing that is understatedly technical,” wrote Tom Barber of Svelte. “We are aiming at design-conscious but cost-sensitive consumers. We are aiming to make clothing that will last such that people can invest in a jersey that, thanks to its minimalist design and carefully chosen colour schemes, will be timeless.”
The Svelte Heritage jersey does indeed have a timeless appearance and has become my go-to cycling top whether I’m wearing it on its own or grabbing it as my baselayer on colder days. It has worked very well for road riding, mountain biking and simply running errands on two wheels. I’d gladly take it on a multi-day tour and re-wear it multiple times without washing.
The Heritage is made in London of a lightweight, performance Merino blend from Denmark, which is the star of the show. This Merino breathes and moves wonderfully while not itching in the slightest and not surrendering to body stench, either. I’m smitten with the fabric, which also has a startlingly rich look and feel that outshines many of my nice winter sweaters.
The jersey’s fit hits each of my personal preferences. It features a full-length zipper and a shaped, but not overly fitted, design that includes room in the hips and silicone grippers on the dropped tail without any constricting elastic (it won’t ride up on you). I’m rather small up top, in general, and found the “athletic” fit to be flattering without being restrictive.
The three main pockets are big, deep and strong (which I find to be rare on women’s jerseys) and the jersey’s overall length is far better than most in that it actually covers my belly button. A bonus pocket closed with a loop and button is nice for small items.
The Classic Bib Short is lovely and comfortable and features a fairly traditional design with flat seams and a small, reflective detail on the back. The chamois falls into a good middle ground without being too bulky or too thin, and I found the shorts plenty comfy on multi-hour rides. The bib straps don’t have any special ventilation nor do they unhook for faster bathroom breaks, but they are so soft and so light that I forgot they were there; they caused no uncomfortable chafing or sticking.
The rich navy blue color is beautiful, but I would love to see a future option that lacks the pink stripe. While a chic touch, the pink makes the shorts less versatile when trying to match other jerseys and I like to see versatility when it comes to high-quality investment pieces. I’d also like to see Svelte ditch the elastic silicone grippers on the legs, which can sometimes stick painfully to the skin on long, sweaty rides. They definitely work, but aren’t the most modern option.
The jersey and short each cost 90 British Pounds which, at the moment, is roughly $135 U.S. That could easily be considered steep, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these pieces hold up for quite a long time. (I accidentally fried them both in the dryer and they came out looking brand-new.)
Svelte ships to the U.S. and it only takes a few days. See more and order on their website.