Brynje’s polypropylene mesh baselayers might not be the most attractive garments, but were, without doubt, the best performing addition to my cycling wardrobe last year.
I was first alerted to Brynje’s mesh baselayers via this excellent article (it really is worth a read) written by renowned mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick on UK Climbing.
As pointed out by Kirkpatrick, the baselayers are still used in over 90 percent of polar expeditions, hinting towards their near-legendary status in these circles. The baselayers are also rumoured to be a favourite sneaky off-sponsor choice of a few Norwegian pro riders.
What makes this baselayer special?
The Super Thermo C-Shirt is made from Isolfil Merkalon polypropylene, which I think might just have been made by sweaty magicians — this wonder material is made from many, many loosely twisted small fibres.
This creates a huge surface area for perspiration to stick to, but as it is essentially plastic, the weave itself doesn’t absorb any moisture, meaning the baselayer dries out incredibly quickly.
This is most noticeable when stationary — I found myself drying off quicker and staying much warmer at cafe stops when wearing the Super Thermo C-Shirt compared to baselayers made from solid panels.
The idea of ‘plastic’ against the skin may sound unappealing, but the baselayer is the softest I’ve ever used. As it has worn in, it’s lost some of this softness, but it is still very comfortable.
A Merino version of the baselayer is also available for those who are allergic to or don’t like the feel of synthetic fabrics. I don’t have experience with these, but tech editor in chief Rob Weaver gave four stars to a similar Merino baselayer in this review.
When riding, the mesh structure of the jersey traps a pocket of air close to your body, keeping you warm on cooler days. It’s also equally easy to dump a tonne of heat by simply unzipping your jersey.
While the baselayer is not cycling-specific, it’s very long and tucks down into bib shorts with ease. The baselayers also size up as expected, though they’re so stretchy that you’d be hard pushed to go far wrong.
I personally prefer a sleeveless baselayer, but Brynje makes options in pretty much every cut imaginable (even a onesie!).
The baselayer does tend to get stinky quicker than some others I’ve used, but it’s so easy to hand wash and dries in less than an hour if left on a radiator that it's hardly an issue, even if you’re touring.
Let’s talk about how that baselayer looks
One thing that is worth touching on is the look. There’s no denying these baselayers have a sort of ‘special interest’ fetish-like quality about them (the bottoms are even worse) and they are something definitely best kept hidden beneath a jersey.
Those familiar with the popular culture of my native Scotland will also no doubt point out the similarities between the baselayers and the garment much-loved by one of our best-known cultural exports. If you buy one, expect your friends to also regularly draw this comparison.
Universally popular at BikeRadar
I’m not the only fan of Brynje’s garb — Joe has been using his baselayer since 2014 and it’s one of his absolute favourite pieces of kit. It’s accompanied him on many adventures, including his Welsh coast-to-coast trip last summer, a recent five-day mountain bike stage race in Lanzarote and countless training miles.
His baselayer has picked up a rather foul mud-stained patina and lost any semblance of softness after being subjected to a zillion washing machine cycles, but still performs as well as the day he bought it.
Brynje Super Thermo C-Shirt conclusion
I already drew similar conclusions when I included the baselayer in my 2017 Gear of the Year roundup, but I would go as far to say that the Brynje Super Thermo C-Shirt has completely changed my riding wardrobe — it’s performance, comfort and longevity is unmatched and I’ve found myself grabbing it whenever I can.
There are definitely cheaper baselayers out there, but as evidenced by the amount of use Joe’s has seen, they present great value for money in the long run and I personally won’t be buying anything else in the future.
Finally, make of this what you will, but the fact I’ve been driven to write a relatively lengthy review about a lowly baselayer should also say something for how much I love this piece of kit.
Where to buy Brynje baselayers
Brynje is distributed by Nordic Life in the UK and North America. International shipping is also available.