“You should probably wear something over that.”
That was my husband’s witty response when I asked what he thought of the Brynje RaceBase long sleeve shirt and 3/4 tight base layers. No, most people don’t ski in just their long underwear, but these, in particular, would be quite revealing.
Why? Unlike traditional base layers, the RaceBase is made out of a polypropylene mesh, designed to allow maximum breathability while reducing air turbulence between the outermost layer of fabric, like your race suit or cycling jersey, and the skin.
“The design objective of an exceptional base layer is to provide warmth without trapping moisture against the skin,” reads the Brynje website. “Traditional solid knit garments made of Merino wool or synthetic yarns do a fair job of this. They provide some trapped air insulation within the fabric and allow some ‘wicking’ of moisture away from the skin. Mesh, however, efforts up to six times the insulation value per gram of weight and, due to its porous design, allows body moisture to immediately ‘transport’ to the outer layers. This means perspiration does not need to become a liquid to be wicked away, but instead moves directly as vapor to the next clothing layer.”
I’ll admit, when I looked at the base layers, I was skeptical of these claims. Breathable, I could buy, but how could a mesh shirt and tights be warm or windproof? After a few skis, I was humming a different tune.
I began testing the Brynje RaceBase layers in early February when overnight temperatures in Colorado were in the low teens or single digits and rarely climbed near freezing.
Whether under a pair of tights or ski pants, the bottoms dependably blocked wind and kept my lower half warm without overheating. As designed, the 3/4 length, which stayed put mid-calf, paired well with crew length ski socks to keep the whole leg warm without adding bulk inside a skate boot.
On warmer days, the top fit underneath a long-sleeve tech shirt or mid-layer to boost the insulation and wind resistance.
I was so satisfied with the RaceBase setup, that I wore it during the Birkie underneath a set of thin lycra tights and a fitted long-sleeve top. It was roughly 22 degrees at the start and climbed into the mid-30’s by the finish. Despite the large temperature swing, I was comfortable and dry throughout the race.
Now, with life in the time of corona, my exercise window as a work-from-home parent whose partner works outside the home is from 6-8 AM most days. This means sunrise bike rides with temperatures around freezing, complete with long climbs and descents, and skinning up ski resorts only to chatter back down on the refrozen chunder. No time to wait for it to turn into corn.
Regardless of activity, the RaceBase has been a great option to increase the air resistance to keep my legs and core warm, despite the higher speeds. An added bonus is the material is antimicrobial and odor resistant, meaning air drying between use is complete sufficient and beneficial for the material, not to mention convenient.
If you’re looking for lightweight, breathable base layers that are versatile enough to keep you warm and dry during any activity, this is it.
Brynje is a product of Norway with roots dating back to 1887. Its revolutionary mesh design was born out of a need for a fabric that could keep fishermen warm and dry while casting their nets in the North Sea. As the design evolved, it caught the attention of alpinists seeking lightweight clothing that was capable of handling the elements at high elevations, including Colonel John Hunt, leader of the first successful expedition on Everest on which Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norway became the first known men to stand atop the peak. More recently, Brynje wearers have reached both the North and South Pole, and have cycled across Greenland.
The top and bottom of the Brynje RaceBase are sold separately at $69.95 each. Short sleeve and sleeveless top options are also available. Sizes are Unisex ranging from XS to XL. Because of this, women may consider sizing down; I normally wear a women’s small, but the XS fits comfortably, even with bike shorts underneath.
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646