It might look like a string vest but Castelli's seamless sleeveless base layer is a top quality cycling undergarment that shifts sweat off your skin and doesn't get smelly despite daily use.
Comfort and good wicking properties are the two fundamental requirements when it comes to a good base layer.
Castelli gives the seamless sleeveless base layer great wicking properties by using two different materials, a polypropylene layer next to the skin and a nylon outer layer. Both have very little absorbency making them ideal for transferring perspiration and humid air away from the body through the mesh pattern of the base layer. The nylon provides some elasticity and as long as it isn't stretched too far it will retain its shape over a long period of time.
Castelli has varied the mesh pattern throughout the base layer so that it has bigger gaps in the material where you're likely to get warmer. The underarms, chest and upper back are the main parts to receive this treatment.
Both nylon and polypropylene can be melted which allows seams to be created without stitching and how the garment gets its seamless moniker. The joins run around the edges of the mesh panels adding strength to the base layer.
Versatile & comfortable
The Seamless Sleeveless is part of Castelli's Spring/Summer range and although its nominal temperature range is 20°C to 35°C it works very well in much cooler climes. Down to around 12°C has been fine in short sleeve jerseys and under a winter jersey it's been fine at low single figures.
Comfort is very good, the thicker material (compared to the likes of Craft's Cool Mesh that I normally wear) makes it feel a little bit odd as you pull it on but once in place it contours to the body and feels great. It's a good length and doesn't ride up when you're in the drops. The high close fitting neck stops any unwanted drafts.
Regardless of effort the wicking properties are some of the best I've known and whether you've finished an interval session or a 100 miler the Castelli is virtually dry having passed the perspiration out to your jersey to evaporate.
Surprisingly for a man-made garment the whiff-o-meter hardly registers a reading after a week's riding (2 hours a day commute) and when it has been bunged in the wash its come up clean every time and no signs of shrinkage.
Overall it's a top performer in the world of base layers and a price of £35 is hardly extortionate for the quality and performance you're getting. It comes in a sleeved version to and three sizes of small, medium and large. As per usual with Castelli kit its best to err on the larger size from the norm.
High performance base layer that is a man-made alternative to merino in the anti-stink stakes.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Seamless Sleeveless base layer
Size tested: n/a
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?
Castelli describe the Seamless Sleeveless as one to wear on every ride. Designed specifically for warmer temperatures I found it'll happily work on its own down to single figures.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Varying mesh sizes for specific heat transfer and the use of nylon and polypropylene means seams can be welded for brilliant comfort.
Very well put together.
Works a treat in all conditions.
Loads of washes and plenty of time stuffed screwed up in a kit bag hasn't bothered one bit. Still looks as new.
Nylon and polypropylene are two of the lightest materials on the market.
Very soft against the skin.
Under forty quid is pretty impressive for a top-performing base layer.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort and performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You need to keep it covered up as a string vest isn't the greatest of looks.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.