Technically speaking, today is the first day of Winter. Naturally, we’re continuing on with reviews of cold/wet weather gear. Many of us think this is the best time of year to ride so that requires we stay dry, warm and comfortable out on the trail. Shells, base layers, waterproof socks and a host of other apparel see some solid trail time during this part of the year. A few months ago, Bontrager sent us a gaggle of things to test and have been quite vocal about their latest efforts in creating high quality gear for crummy weather. After all, they are based in Waterloo, Wisconson so surely they see their fair share of it. The item we’ve been using most is their B2 short sleeve base layer. Aside from this model, they offer a wide array of other similar bits to keep you warm under your jersey or shell. Anyhow, on many Fall days we’ve headed out on early morning rides with this hugging our upper body.
• Profila Dry powered by 37.5™ active particle technology and Merino Wool
• Conditions-appropriate, tuckable length
• 3″ (8cm) drop tail for a precise on-bike fit
• Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance
• Color : Black
As it should be, the B2 was not only form fitting but true to size. Our 6 foot tall, 180 pound tester felt that it fit him perfectly as most size Large upper garments do. The hems and seems are nicely placed and well constructed. If you are unfamiliar with Merino wool, it’s a fantastic material. Merino is usually quite expensive, but it is breathable, quick drying, and lightweight. Because it isn’t quite as silky as some synthetic materials it can be ever so slightly itchy. However, it lasts longer, wicks better and doesn’t get weighed down as easily.
On the Trail
We first started reaching for the B2 Base layer as a supplement to a 3/4 sleeve jersey on some brisk Fall mornings. As both we and the weather heated up we tended to take a quick breather, shed it, pack it away and move on. One of the first things that we appreciated was that unlike some Merino Wool garments we’ve used in the past, we really didn’t notice any itching. The blend that Bontrager uses is fantastic and to be honest, we didn’t notice it at all…or at least until we got warm enough to shed it.
Additionally, we liked that while this unit fit a bit on the trim side of things, it was cut a touch long, especially out back; thus making it easy to tuck into our shorts. No one likes a draft up their back or loam in their short liners. As for the material itself, it dried incredibly quickly, didn’t take on an odor (despite our best efforts) and did exactly what it was supposed to : kept us just a touch warmer without being disconcerting. The seams and stitching are burly but allow you to move naturally and without restriction. To be honest, once we donned the B2, we hardly noticed it and it played nicely with all sorts of riding and gear. Whether we were wearing a 3/4 or a long sleeve jersey, shell/no shell, pack/no pack, this layer was an after thought.
There is only so much to report on a high end base layer, so really it comes down to two pass or fail style questions :
-Is it good or is it bad?
-In terms of value, is it worth the money?
Well, it’s definitely a great item and we’ve been using it just about every morning for the last few months. We love the benefits of Merino and the cut and sew on this item are fantastic and show no signs of premature wear and tear. It comes in 6 sizes so Bontrager have left no stone unturned. The B2 has long sleeve, 3/4 zip and hooded counterparts, plus Bontrager offer a $39.99 budget option; but we feel that $69.99 is a fair price to pay for a Merino wool Winter staple that will keep you comfortable when the conditions are doing their best to spite you.