Base layers are on every cycling apparel store, online or offline. Nonetheless most people don’t seem to know what they are usually used for. It's now a good time to understand what base layers are, what their purpose is and when they are best utilized.
A base layer is basically an undergarment, the first layer of clothing that a cyclist wears against the skin and it is the base of the entire cycling ensemble. From undershirts to long johns, base layers are the closest points to the skin and their importance can’t be overemphasized.
What are Base Layers made of?
Base layers of the highest quality are weaved from high-tech synthetic fabrics such as polyester blends that are specially designed to help your body get rid of the sweat it generates while pedaling. Some base layers, apart from being able to wick away sweat, are also laced with carbon fabric which helps cool the body down while also reducing bad smells.
Merino wool, is the natural alternative, offering the same qualities of synthetic fabrics when it comes to keep you dry and warm.
It is usually recommended to avoid base layers made of cotton and other non-wicking fabrics. Cotton will keep moisture close to the body, making your skin feel clammy and increasing the probability of chafing and rashes.
When should a Base Layer be worn?
A lot of cyclists have grown increasingly accustomed to wearing clothes in layers whenever in cold weather conditions. Wearing layers has over time proven to be the most effective way to regulate the body’s temperature in all weather conditions. It is possible for you to wear a well-constructed cycling base layer on both cold and hot days, summer or winter
Base Layers for Cold Weather
Cold weather is probably the most common reason why cyclists choose to include a base layer in their general clothing. A base layer is able to provide an extra layer of insulation and protection against the harsh effects of cold. It also helps to pull sweat from the skin, leaving your skin dry and much warmer.
Base Layers for Hot Weather
Base layers can also be worn on warm and even hot days. Again, the high-tech fabric pulls sweat away from your skin while simultaneously creating an evaporative layer below your jersey. This helps to maintain an optimum body temperature while remaining dry.
Apart from maintaining the dryness of the body and helping with temperature regulation, base layers come with a tight fit that helps creating compression, which in turn contributes to enhanced circulation of blood in the body. Compression socks, leggings or compression tops are common with professional athlete since compression base layers help the flow of blood, and reduce the build-up of lactic acid by compressing the muscles before during and after physical exercise.
By reducing the accumulation of lactic acid during and following a training session, an athlete’s recovery rate is greatly enhanced and the frequency of injury massively reduced.
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