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Finisterre Merino Base Layer review 

Finisterre Merino Wool Base Layer Top 25 from Finisterre

Alternative from Endura 30

Alternative from Howies 40

Alternative review: Finisterre Wool Base Layer

Warm when wet
This isn't a glamorous piece of kit, it won't attract women or make you look cool. Made from very fine wool fibres found on Merino sheep, it will help keep you warm even when you're sweating under your waterproof jacket however. Your base layer is as important as the other layers in your clothing system, it must transport moisture away from your skin, whilst not chilling you and stay warm whilst it does. This is a pretty tall order and best not left to a random T Shirt or even an old cycling top. If like me you've spent a lot of time in the mountains you may have noticed the sheep out there, they don't have Goretex jackets and yet they spend every night out in the worst of it.

People understood this centuries ago and woolly jumpers have been popular since the early days of life in sodden Britain. The only downside of wearing wool next to your skin was that the coarse fibres make some people itch and I'm one of them, so it was with some trepidation that I went out on my test ride wearing the new Merino Wool Base layer from Finisterre.

Itchy and Scratchy?
Well no, it wasn't and that was with an unhealthy preconception that it might be, I was impressed. So it doesn't itch and doesn't look amazing (what base layer does?) but does keep you warm when it's wet and comfortable if things warm up a bit.  It won't smell either, those clever sheep evolved anti-microbial fibres perhaps to avoid sending their malodorous pong out to every predator in the region.

As a three season base layer then this is a success and it's certainly one of the cheapest on the market at present. Traditionally prices are cut either by cutting quality or cutting the meagre pay of Mongolian Whistle children below starvation levels. Not so with Finisterre who take a highly ethical stance avoiding sweatshops and for this reason this top is made in Portugal.

Other systems to consider
There is a recent trend towards mid layers with a built in base action such as the Gore N2S (Next To Skin) jacket. An impressive piece of kit I have to say that in the winter at least it is out performed by a seperate base layer like this one from Finisterre. This would seem to be because it just doesn't sit close enough to your body to completely avoid drafts from chilling your damp skin: a sheep would not be impressed. Having three layers also allows better adjustment of temperature in the rain, with a combined base/mid layer you can't remove just the middle layer on a warm, wet day which can make you overheat. Overheating makes your body expend considerable energy trying to cool you resulting in a feeling of 'going backwards' on the climbs.

Why should I buy one?

  • It's cheap for the quality
  • It keeps you warm
  • Ethical Manufacture
  • Will not irritate
  • Will not get smelly easily

Why should you not buy one? 

  • You're allergic to wool
  • You're looking for a fashion item

Sounds like you're on comission?
Cynical lot... we're not.

For more info visit Finisterre To discuss this article visit the Forum.

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