Verdict: Gorgeous looking, comfortable and versatile – and made in the UK
A merino baselayer is always useful for when the weather can’t quite decide what it’s doing. They keep the body a stable temperature even if they get wet, they’re comfortable to wear (for most people) and they tend to resist getting stinky in a way that synthetics never can. The Findra Marin Cowl Neck Stripe Base Layer comes with two bonus extras too: it’s made in the UK – in Scotland to be more precise – and it looks fabulous.
The Marin Cowl Neck is made from lightweight super-soft merino. The really clever part is that it’s knitted seamlessly, making for a stretchy and breathable top with no scratchy seams to rub or irritate.
Textured areas at the elbows are there as a design feature but also to help resist wear, and there’s a more loosely knitted v-section at the front, too, below the cowl neck, to add extra ventilation.
Choosing a size was a touch tricky, as the online guide is a little unfathomable. I went for the 14-16 on the grounds that I didn’t want it to only be wearable as a baselayer, but also as a standalone top, and when it arrived it fitted comfortably but slightly loose (and very loose on our model – that’s not me!). The 10-12 would have been spot on for baselayer wear, I suspect, but quite neat on me for use on its own. The chest area is quite roomy and the hip hem very stretchy, so both sizes would be quite versatile for a variety of builds.
As a spring cycling top, coupled with a windproof gilet, it performed brilliantly. The weave of the merino, slightly looser than some others I’ve tried, made for superb breathability with no overheating or chilling off problems, even when working hard. The cowl neck was cosy without being over hot or constrictive, but could perhaps be too warm for summer use anywhere south of Scotland. The ventilation patch at the front of the neck kept just enough air flowing there to add to comfort too.
Looks-wise it’s great, and made for very relaxed café visiting. I’d happily wear it commuting or mountain biking.
Although it felt quite fragile, and beautifully soft, it’s actually surprisingly durable and tough, with no washing problems at all. It’s definitely one to keep well away from Velcro though.
Price-wise, it’s expensive for a baselayer but around the same price – and cheaper than some – high-end merino jerseys, so when you consider that it works as both and that it’s made in Scotland from superb quality Italian merino, it’s easier to swallow. It should also last for years, and of course it looks stylish too.
Photo credit: Road.CC