This 74 Degrees base layer has all the benefits you usually get with merino wool, but it's a heavier weight than most and a little warmer in the cool weather.
The merino wool used here is fine stuff (the individual fibres are les than 19.5 microns in diameter, if you're interested in these things), There are finer types of merino out there, but this is certainly soft and it's unlikely to irritate your skin unless you're really susceptible to itchiness. I found this perfectly comfortable in a variety of conditions.
The difference between this base layer and most other merino options is in the density of the weave. Rapha, for example, use 150g/m2 whereas this one is 215g/m2. That certainly makes a difference in use, the 74 Degrees base providing noticeably more warmth, and it's very durable too.
The base layer is a very simple T-shirt style design in a slim cut, with standard rather than flatlock seams and a rear that's very slightly longer than the front. The only branding is a small, embroidered logo on the left hip.
We've been over the benefits of merino wool a million times here on road.cc, the chief ones being that it's naturally antibacterial and so highly resistant to odours, it wicks moisture away from your skin well and that it still keeps you warm even when it's damp with sweat – all of which are certainly true here.
And the downsides? If you do sweat hard, any wool can get heavy with moisture – which is why I tend to use it for riding around town, and for really cold rides. Oh, and you need to beware of moths. Grrrr.
Also available in men's/women's long sleeve versions for £54.
Comfortable merino base layer that's a little warmer and more hardwearing than most.
road.cc test report
Make and model: 74 Degrees No Nonsense Mens Short Sleeve Merino Base Layer
Size tested: Medium, Black
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?
74 Degrees say, "Made in New Zealand, this No Nonsense short sleeve base layer is a beautifully soft yet hard wearing 215 gsm 100% fine merino wool, designed to survive long term use.
"We believe that by using a heavier knit our merino works better as a base layer, across a wider range of temperatures, is more durable and won't lose its shape. Although it's more expensive we use up to 43% more merino than other base layers to ensure our products perform better and last longer.
"Naturally soft, anti bacterial, odour and stain resistant, keeps you dry and comfortable, warm in winter, cool in summer. Machine washable.
"Long back design for extra comfort when cycling, suitable whenever a base layer is needed or on its own. Labeling is kept to a minimum to reduce irritation, and there is a discrete embroidered logo on the lower left hand side.
"Purchase as a close fit for best performance."
High-quality merino is never cheap, but this is good value for money.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's good to have a different weight of merino, offering you another option to suit the conditions. The price is pretty good too.
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: 42 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.