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One of the first ‘made for cycling’ tops I got when I started this flirtation with all things bike was a compression base layer. It did it’s job, kept me warm but as it was a compression layer, man it was tight and I was constantly pulling at the neck. So I went looking for an alternative and as I was quite new to the cycling domain my journey started and ended on that charming little site we all know and love, Amazon.
After an exhaustive search on there I finally happened upon a wool half zip from Helly Hansen. 57% Merino and 43% Polyproplene giving a bit of warmth and a bit of stretch, it was perfect. The choice of colours was quite good black, red, khaki, blue and yellow. All £60+ except one, the black which was just above £30 so the only other thing to figure out now was size.
For once I’m going to get the negative out of the way and then talk more about what’s good about the Helly Hansen Wool Half Zip Base Layer. I read the reviews that accompanied the product and everyone said get a size up, okay then I thought I’ll do that and sure enough the top that arrived fitted very nicely too. End of story right? No. About a year later I bought the same top from Amazon again, this time all the reviews said get the size you’re normally. Confused and skeptical I got the size up and now I have a bright red tent instead of a base layer. I’ll never understand why clothes differ so much in size and Helly Hansen do seem to be inconsistent with their sizing. So just be careful with that because it’s the only thing I can fault about this wonderful base layer.
A dedicated first layer, the presence of that good ol’ merino means it feels lovely next to your skin and there’s just enough stretch so it sits comfortably about you and doesn’t act like a second skin. It’s style is very much sporty in nature rather than casual due to the cut of the top and the visible outer stitching, plus the half zip and reflective patches on the sleeves all go to back up that this top would look more at home whilst doing physical activity than supping at a large tea at the local coffee shop. However as part of a cycling outfit it’s perfect as part of a number of layers in colder weather and on it’s own when the sun shines bright and the winter winds have died. Truly living up to it’s base layer design.
As a casual cyclist outfit the Helly Hansen actually can be co-ordinated in with other elements of clothing and becoming the bottom part of a stylish cyclists ensemble thus reducing it’s sporty look and giving you that little touch of warmth you need on a cold day.
The look of the shirt is quite unique due to the visible stitching down most seams. These all give to following the cut form of the layer to make it look more fitted, tailored and a tad more stylish than other base layers. It’s a strong and durable piece of clothing that after numerous washes over the year is showing no signs of damage or wear.
Having a half zip is something I do like from base layers as it means you can regulate comfort and heating about your person. Layers without this feature are by no means worse off but with regards to the Helly Hansen it’s nice to know a quick zip up to keep a draft out is at your disposal.
The Helly Hansen Wool Half Zip Base Layer was an early entrant into my cycling wardrobe but it’s been an excellent stable part of my clothing diet ever since. I’m actually glad I didn’t get a colour now and got the black as it’s sleek and classic and has served me very well since the day I got it. If you do want it in a different colour there are plenty of options with different contrasting coloured seams
It’s a fantastic piece of smart cycling clothing and for me if you get the sizing right one of the best around too.
Value for Money: 6.5/10 (only because of the variations)