Best Cycling Base Layers for Winter [How to Stay Warm Guide]

During cold winter months a good quality base layer can be a life saver. This applies to both commuters and those who enjoy a leisurely pedal.

With our top selections of base layers to suit male and female riders alike, you’ll be able to enjoy your rides without having to worry about being too cold!

What is a Cycling Base Layer? 

A cycling base layer is similar to a second skin. They often come in a few different styles, such as short sleeve, sleeveless and lightweight, or long sleeve and warm for colder climates. 

Likewise, base layers are often made from different materials to suit the main use. For example, a long sleeve base layer for winter will often be made from thicker materials, such as merino wool. As opposed to their summer counterparts which tend to be made from synthetic fabrics. 

Similarly to waterproof socks, neck warmers and gloves, base layers can be a really great and essential piece of equipment for your cycling wardrobe and can often double up for other uses such as running and skiing as well. 

What’s the Purpose of a Base Layer? 

Base layers have three main purposes. First and foremost, arguably their biggest benefit is to help keep warmth in and insulate heat while exercising on cold or windy days. Thus ensuring that the rider’s warmth is retained throughout their ride.

Secondly, base layers also help to keep you dry. This is due to their abilities of effectively wick away sweat as you perspire, this therefore results in keeping you comfortable and dry instead of clammy and damp. 

Next, they also act as a second skin when riding; if you are unfortunate enough to crash and hit the deck then a base layer offers an added layer of protection as the material will rip before your skin. 

However, it’s worth noting that base layers don’t have to be used just for sporting activities: they can also be worn as a comfortable all round top which can be worn whenever as they tend to be comfortable and warm.

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Do You Need a Base Layer When Cycling? 

When cycling a base layer can be an essential piece of kit which is needed for: protecting your skin, wicking away sweat and layering. The latter being an effective way of keeping warm and dry when sweating or while it’s raining. 

Likewise, the type of cycling that you partake in will determine the type of base layer that will suit your needs best. As well as perform the function that you require. But in general it’s best practice to wear one. 

Therefore, whether you find yourself often riding in the heat, springtime freshness or during cold spells in deep winter, there will be a suitable base layer for you. One that will perform your desired function, regardless of climate.

Do Bike Commuters Need Base Layers? 

While those who commute by bike may favour more practical pieces of kit to pop over their work clothes (such as water resistant trousers or anything else to keep your feet dry on cold days), a base layer will also effectively keep the heat in too while commuting.

Furthermore, while commuting it’s not uncommon to have to stop-start often due to traffic lights and congestion, therefore it’s common to heat up and cool down. But wearing a base layer could help prevent subsequently getting a chill. 

In addition to this base layers can also be worn underneath work attire to help wick away sweat that would’ve otherwise been absorbed by your shirt. Thus helping to keep dry and hygienic for the day ahead. 

Types of Cycling Base Layer 

There are many types of base layers that are cycling specific. For example, in warmer climates it’s common for people to use a short sleeve or sleeveless base layer made either from mesh or thin synthetic materials.

Moreover, there are also intermediate base layers that are meant for cooler climates. These types of base layer tend to feature either short sleeves or long sleeves. However are often a little thicker in comparison to a summer base layer.

On the other end of the spectrum there are full-on heavy winter base layers that are long sleeved and tend to be made from heavier materials in order to keep warmth in and the elements out. 

What Are the Best Base Layers for Cycling? 

The best base layers for cycling will first and foremost include some sort of antibacterial qualities. For example, merino wool is a great material to fashion a base layer from, this is due to their antibacterial properties that help to reduce smell and skin complaints. 

As well as that, the best base layers (regardless of their seasonal purpose) will also be very good for wicking away sweat and ensuring moisture is drawn away from the body to help prevent feeling damp. 

Also, the best base layers for cycling will also fit close to the skin and allow for full range movement. This is because any garment used for exercising needs to fit and conotor the body well, else it will be uncomfortable, nor will it wick away sweat or keep heat in properly. 

Best Men’s Cycling Base Layers 

  2. Pas Normal Studions Heavy Base Layer [REVIEW]
  3. Castelli Flanders Warm Base Layer [REVIEW]

Click Here for the Best Women’s Base Layers

1. SPATZWEAR ‘BASEZ 2’ Winter Cycling Baselayer 


Developed in the Yorkshire Dales and winner of the Independent best buy competition in 2020, the SPATZWEAR BASEZ 2 is a firm favourite among cyclists of all types, and has been tested by current Olympians and professionals to ensure functionality and quality. 

This base layer is tight fitting which helps to actively move sweat away from the skin while riding in order to keep you warm without being clammy. Moreover, there is also an extended rear section to keep your back warm and protected.

Additionally, it is available in both black or white and comes in a range of sizes. It also features thumb loops for comfort and added warmth as well as  a high neck which acts like a built-in buff.

Key Features: 

  • High Neck
  • Thumb loops
  • Extended rear section
  • Moisture managing fabric
  • Thermal yet lightweight design