Before the advent of synthetic lycras and waffle-weaves, cyclists wore natural fibers such as wool and real chamois leather. And, although you may feel faster wearing all of the latest textiles, for some purposes, wool trumps them all. The Castelli Flanders Wool Long Sleeve Base Layer is a natural alternative to the latest synth craze.
The purpose of a base layer is twofold. First, it provides a comfortable barrier between your skin and outer layers, such as bib tights' straps or rain jackets, and second, it helps to regulate your core temperature. The latter is accomplished by pulling moisture away from the skin so that cold winter air does not create an evaporative cooling effect. Whereas other base layers rely upon combinations of fabrics to wick moisture, the 18 gauge merino wool, from which the Flanders base layer was constructed, does it all.
Merino wool is most known for its non-abrasive qualities, but the benefits don't stop there. Merino wool is what we call a "hydrophilic" fiber, meaning that it has the natural ability to positively interact with water. In fact, Merino is able to absorb as much as 30 percent of its weight before exuding the sensation of wetness. Truthfully, when was the last time you saw a soggy sheep? Because it is able to hold so much moisture, even though the cold air may slow evaporation, your skin will remain dry. When skin is dry, body heat is able to create a small barrier of warm air that acts as an insulating layer.
Additionally, merino wool is naturally antimicrobial. It is a base layer fabric of choice for multi-day adventurers because it does not hold odors. This property is furthered by Merino's natural ability to disperse electrostatic charges, which means your base layer will not pick up lint or dust.
In addition to a form-fit, the Flanders base layer features a high crewneck collar to keep cold from creeping down the front. There are few seams, but when necessary, Castelli uses flat lock stitching to minimize chafing. The back is slightly extended to stay tucked into your bib tights.
The Castelli Flanders Wool Long Sleeve Base Layer is available in sizes Small to XX-Large in the color