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Rarely seen, usually under-appreciated, the humble base layer is the unsung hero of cycling apparel. This guide gives base layers the spotlight they deserve by explaining how crucial they can be to your comfort in any conditions. We’ll cover some tips on how to choose the right base layer for your riding conditions. And, of course, we’ll highlight eight excellent options from Sportful’s line of cycling base layers. Whichever you choose, all of Sportful’s base layers are made in Italy and Oekotex Certified. Not sure about you, but that always gives us the warm fuzzies.



Cycling is one of the very few outdoor sports that combines intense effort with high speeds. There’s a tricky balance between regulating core temperature while also blocking out wind chill and the elements. Not to mention the fact that we don’t usually cancel on account of bad weather!

Dressing with layers is key to striking the right balance to suit the weather conditions and your effort. A base layer lets you fine-tune this balance. You can go heavier or lighter, long-sleeve or short sleeve (or even sleeveless) — the right base layer can extend the range of your outer shell or layer by keeping you warmer or promoting better cooling and breathability.

A base layer is like a digital thermostat that adjusts one degree at a time. Much better than those dials with simple blue and red gradients that leave you guessing, right? Start by considering the weather conditions and temperature for a general idea of what weight base layer you need. Then, account for your riding intensity to fine-tune your kit.

For example, on a chilly day, when you’re doing an intense workout, a warm, long-sleeve base layer allows you to wear a lighter jersey or jacket for better breathability and range of motion.



In the depths of winter, the right base layer can simplify your cycling wardrobe and enable you to ride in colder temperatures. Naturally, an insulating next-to-skin layer goes a long way toward maintaining core temperature.

  • Fiandre Thermal - Short Sleeve/Long Sleeve:  With a wind-stopping front panel, this base layer is so versatile, we should have created a four-seasons category for it. In the dead of winter, another insulating, windproof layer is always welcome. The Fiandre thermal can also be of use under jerseys or skin suits at cyclocross races, spring training rides, or any other time when you need aerodynamics with a bit of warmth.
  • Sottozero - Long SleeveTake the classic insulating and wicking properties of wool and combine it with synthetic materials. This deep-winter base layer offers insulation and breathability in a stretchy fabric. This is a substantially warmer layer, more than twice the grams of fabric per square meter of the Fiandre Thermal.


When the temperatures drop, your base layer options increase: long-sleeve vs. short-sleeve, Merino wool base layer vs. synthetic, or heavy vs. light. Take your riding intensity plans into account when picking a base layer, as the shoulder seasons can be a time for long, easy base rides or sweat-inducing intervals. 

  • Body Fit Pro - Short Sleeve/Long Sleeve: Ideal for early season intensity, this base layer’s synthetic ThermoDrytex material has 3D structure for better breathability. The ribbed fabric structure also serves to trap warm air by the skin for extra comfort if things cool off.
  • Merino - Short Sleeve/Long Sleeve: Merino wool base layers with natural fibers dry quickly, regulate temperature, and offer just enough insulation when you need it.
  • Midweight - Short Sleeve/Long Sleeve: Bridging the gap between summer and the cooler months with a lightly brushed interior, this synthetic fabric is what you need for a cool dawn ride.
  • Thermodynamic Light - Sleeveless/Short Sleeve: an affordable all-rounder that regulates body temperature throughout a range of weather conditions. 


It might seem counterintuitive to wear more clothing in the heat, but summer base layers can aid in evaporative cooling. Some cyclists also prefe r the way a jersey fits and feels over a lightweight baselayer.

  •  2nd Skin Mesh Base Layer - Sleeveless/Short Sleeve: 
    This unisex base layer is the lightest, stretchiest option in the Sportful line. For a mid-summer ride, this synthetic base layer is a perfect pairing with the Light Pro jersey. Opt for a sleeveless cut for the hottest conditions.
  • Pro - Bra/Sleeveless/Short Sleeve: Structured for better breathability and fit, the Pro base layer features vertical 3D ribbing built into its lightweight synthetic fabric. Worn with a Bomber jersey, it can cut the chill on an Alpine descent or wick away sweat on a sunny climb.

The perfect kit starts on your skin, which is why Sportful offers a range of base layers. Paired with building blocks like a heavy jacket, light jacket, or long-sleeve jersey, you can tailor your setup to account for dropping temperatures or dropping watts. Plan on having a few options depending on the weather, as well as long- and short-sleeve options to suit the conditions. Then, dial in your layers for whatever ride is on your calendar.

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