Wiggle's clothing brand dhb is known for its well-designed, good value cycle clothing and its Women's Merino Zip Neck Base Layer is no exception. The decent fit, comfort and warmth of this 100 per cent Merino top make it a winter staple, with the super-soft wool giving it a touch of luxury. At £45 it is mid-priced, but if you buy two you get a 15 per cent discount.
This base layer is constructed from mid-weight 200gsm wool and is part of dhb's Performance range, designed to be "suitable for energetic and sustained efforts". I found it performed much the same as similar Merino base layers, in that I got sweaty during moderate exercise, and it takes a while to dry out (a good hour or more depending how sweaty it was). The advantage of Merino over synthetic fabrics, though, is that it still keeps you warm even when it's wet – plus it has odour-resisting properties so is suitable for wearing a few days on the trot without alienating your friends.
The fit is close to maximise the wool's insulating and wicking properties and, on the whole, it fits well. It is snug around the body and the collar is nice and tall for added cosiness. The half zip is very useful to help regulate your temperature, with a zip garage to protect your chin. The body is the same length front and back, and while this is ample at the front I'd prefer more length at the rear to cover your hips when in the riding position. Same goes for the sleeves: another couple of inches would make them perfect. Also, they are rather baggy around the wrists which makes them draughty.
Like the very similar Madison Isoler baselayer, all seams are flatlock-stitched to reduce skin chafing and it sports raglan sleeves, but there is a seam running underneath the armpit which potentially might irritate some people (the Isoler has a clever lozenge-shaped underarm insert). Compared to the Isoler, the dhb has a slightly taller collar and marginally longer sleeves, no drop tail and is longer at the front, and costs £5 less.
This base layer comes in black as well as this Deep Purple, and you can buy the crew neck version for a fiver less.
Good quality wardrobe essential to keep you snug from autumn to spring
road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Women's Merino LS Zip Neck Base Layer
Size tested: 12, Dark Purple
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Wiggle's website says: "An ultra fine mid weight merino base layer with a high zipped neck for effective insulation and natural technical performance in cold conditions. A warm, comfortable and versatile layering piece to see you into winter."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% Merino 200gsm wool
Superfine grade 18.5 micron merino yarn for high level comfort against the skin
Abrasion-free flatlocked seams
Zip neck and high collar
Natural odour resistance, wicking properties, and breathability
Fits close to the body
Provides outstanding thermal regulation across a range of climate conditions
Australian wool from a guaranteed non-mulesed source
Try not to snag it on Velcro - it goes fuzzy.
Nice fit on body but the sleeves are not quite long enough for my liking and they're a bit baggy around the wrists, also the body could be longer at rear.
The size guide was accurate, but if between sizes I would size up.
It's mid-priced for a Merino base layer.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It is warm and comfortable and wicked about the same as other Merino base layers - it got damp but Merino stays warm when wet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The soft feel of the wool and tall collar.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Loose and slightly too-short sleeves.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's well made from high-quality fabric – more length in the body and sleeves plus no underarm seam would have bumped it up to a 9 at this competitive price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Audax