Best run base layers review

Five of this year’s best run base layers tested and rated by our expert reviewer

Best run base layers review 2015

Best run base layers review 2015

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Although probably more common on the bike for tackling windchill at increased speeds, a base layer is still a versatile and affordable (we’d say pretty darn mandatory) purchase for running through the autumn, winter and spring seasons. 

We used the five here under the same single run t-shirt for testing in November and December and graded the base layers on fit, feel, how much warmth was provided and breathability. Base layers need to perform the dual act of keeping you warm on the run but also providing plenty of breathability to stop an excessive build up of sweat.

To do this, the base layer has to be vented and in contact with your skin, but not too close to prevent wicking. That said, excessive wicking will keep your body producing more and more sweat, so ideally a thin layer of moisture should be maintained.

Don’t forget to check out our other recent gear round-ups: best pool gogglesbest heart rate monitorsbest aerobarsbest run jacketsbest turbo trainersbest tri bikesbest tri bike shoesbest wetsuitsbest lightweight run shoesbest trail shoesbest energy barsbest bike jacketsbest bike helmetsbest TT helmetsbest recovery drinks and best tri-suits.

Adidas Techfit

Price: £25 from www.adidasspecialtysports.co.uk

Whether it’s down to the 84% polyester/16% elastane composition or any placebo effect of wearing white, straight out of the box the Techfit Base from Adidas oozes lightness. This litheness continues onto the run with a snug yet unrestrictive feel when running, although we didn’t feel any of the purported upper-body compression benefits touted by the German heavyweights.

Adidas claims its Climalite fabric ‘sweeps sweat away from your skin’, and possibly it does this too well, as the Techfit Base remained noticeably damper and clingier once out on the trails than the Gore and Falke offerings, especially on the back region.

The perforated panels on the shoulders are successful at providing more breathability (these would’ve been a welcome addition on the back to fight the sweat patches), and the seams remained chafe-free throughout.

Verdict: Warm, well-priced and unrestrictive, but we would’ve liked more breathability, especially on there back, 82%

Gore Essential Base Layer Long

Price: £39 from www.goreapparel.co.uk

The Essential Long may be Gore’s cheapest base layer, yet it still oozes high quality, with the 88% polypropylene material feeling so soft on the skin that it also entered our casual clothing range as well.

Once out on the trails in cold December conditions, the microfibre composition was up there with Tenn, Dhb and Falke as the quickest-drying on test, and the base layer didn’t produce any nasty cold sweat patches during our runs.

Again, the top was close-fitting but didn’t restrict our arm movement. The Essential, however, was the only top on test where we felt chilly well into the run’s duration, especially on exposed stretches and tackling winds on hill tops (all the base layers were tested in similar conditions and dealt well with the cold), so we’d definitely opt for something more insulated in the depths of the winter.

Verdict: Not the warmest on test, but a fine and well-made companion for spring and autumn running, 84%

Click here to continue reading our base layers grouptest


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We continue our run-down of five of this year’s best run base layers…

Falke Long Sleeve Top

Price: £45 from www.falke.com

We have to admit it took us a while to find Falke’s sport range on their website, as we became lost in a world of knee-high socks and men’s knitwear. Yet judging by the Long Sleeve seen here, the German brand’s lack of a sport-specific focus hasn’t impacted on the athletic quality.

Once on, the 69% polyamide/26% polyester/5% spandex composition was close-fitting but not restrictive and didn’t ride up, offering compression for those of you convinced of the upper-body benefits.

The temperature regulation is also hugely efficient, keeping us warm and free from cold sweat patches throughout. It’s also stylish enough to be worn as a single layer come the warmer months and, if that price sounds high, the quality construction should last you multiple off-seasons.

Verdict: German efficiency at its finest; a belter of a base layer for which it’s very hard to find any negatives, 94%

Tenn Compression Fit

Price: £21 from www.tenn-outdoors.co.uk

We’ve used a nylon base layer for years for running, football and cycling due to its quick-drying nature and any wind-proofing ability. This 80% nylon/20% elastane mix also provides plenty of versatility, with Tenn touting its cycling benefits and the elastane offering plenty of stretch for the gym.

The downside of the quick-drying prowess is a lack of breathability compared to Falke and Gore (admittedly at half the price), with our core/sweat levels noticeably higher during extended run efforts. The top also gave upper-body compression, yet this tightness led to the bottom hem riding up on the run (and taking our tee with it) to reveal our, er, relaxed abs to the dog walkers of Bristol.

Although positioned towards the budget end, it features well-crafted touches such as reflective decals and flat-lock stitching that prevents chafing.

Verdict: Not the most breathable, but a versatile offering, especially for battling the wind and rain, 79%

DHB Active Long Sleeve

Price: £14 from www.wiggle.co.uk

Tri gear may not be famed for its cheapness, but nearly every top here has its merits and all come at an affordable price. The Active Long Sleeve, from the house brand of retail behemoths Wiggle, is yet another well-priced offering on test.

On some nippy December early morning runs, it kept us warm throughout, sitting comfortably on our skin, and remaining chafe-free for the duration due to the flat-lock seams. When the run intensity and/or temperature rose, however, the polyester construction fell behind in the breathability stakes, joining the UA as the only base layer here to produce noticeable sweat patches both on the back and under the arms, which soon became cold when we slowed down. The garment is treated with a Polygiene treatment to prevent nasty niffs, as synthetic offerings like this can develop pongs.

Verdict: Budget price and enough virtues to make it worth considering, but some breathability questions, 77%

And the winner is…

Falke wins Best On Test for their Long Sleeve Top – a belter of a base layer.

Adidas wins Best Buy for their Techfit top, it oozes lightness and is warm and well-priced.

… don’t forget to check out our other recent gear round-ups: best pool gogglesbest heart rate monitorsbest aerobarsbest run jacketsbest turbo trainersbest tri bikesbest tri bike shoesbest wetsuitsbest lightweight run shoesbest trail shoesbest energy barsbest bike jacketsbest bike helmetsbest TT helmetsbest recovery drinks and best tri-suits.

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What’s your favourite run base layer? Let us know in the comments below!