How to Buy : Technical Base Layers

These aren’t just for the depths of winter. Feel cold and clammy after a hot day’s ride ? Maybe you should be wearing one too...

Technical Base Layers


Base or mid-layers with body armour are becoming more popular, and are arguably safer than more traditional armours found in jacket pockets. No matter how well-fitting a jacket is, any armour attached within may move about in a crash. The best way to make sure armour stays in the right area is to attach it as closely as possible to your body and having the armour in a base or mid-layer means it’s much more likely to stay in place and do its job of protecting you (Forcefield Pro Shirt body armour pictured).

Racers tend to go for base layer armour, which should tell you all you need to know. It may be more of a performance to put on – but that’s a tiny price to pay for peace of mind. Layers with chest protection are becoming more readily available now and many protectors are nice and supple. Much like contact lenses – after a short period of acclimatisation you probably won’t even know you’re wearing them.

Moisture Wicking

Wicking properties are definitely worth taking into consideration when buying base layers. The wicking process moves sweat away from the skin, making the wearer feel warmer and more comfortable. The best fibres for wicking away moisture are wool and synthetic such as polyester. Merino wool is a good choice due to its softer, less itchy feel and anti-bacterial agents that reduce odours. It doesn’t matter what brand you go for: all Merino wool has natural antibacterial properties. Cotton does wick moisture to a point, but it’s slow to dry and so should be avoided for cold weather riding.

Riding in Cold Weather

Use a base layer with thermal properties. Synthetics such as polyester micro fibres, and Merino wool are the kings. Merino wool also helps to regulate body temperature. Tiny air pockets in the wool help retain heat within the fibres to keep you warm while also drawing away excess heat from the body. This technique of keeping your body temperature just right is called temperature regulation. Merino wool comes in different weights, and 200gsm Merino is a good standard for motorcycling base layers here in the UK. The quality brands state the weight, others don’t.

Block Out The Wind

Windblocking layers work best when twinned with base layers. The wind chill factor on a motorcycle lowers your body temperature even in summer, so without windblocking a base layer’s ability to regulate heat is badly affected. Our bestselling type of windblocking products are turtleneck tops. These stop the wind from racing down your neck and freezing your base layers.

Battery-Powered Warmth

All year round riding may require some battery power to keep you warm. There are some base layer gloves and socks on the market to keep exposed hands and feet toasty in low temperatures. These items use either their own battery power pack that you recharge at home, or run directly off your motorcycle’s electrical system. No one should be put off hard wiring connectors to a bike’s battery. Its very simple: just connect the eyelet leads to the battery and away you go.