The GripGrab Freedom Seamless Thermal Base Layer LS is one of the softest I've ever worn thanks to the fabric and how it's woven. It's warm and does a great job of wicking sweat away, all the things a good thermal baselayer should do, but then again, it does have a £90 price tag.
- Pros: Very soft fabric next to your skin, regulates temperature well
- Cons: Costly, limited sizing
For the Freedom, GripGrab has used Dryarn fabric, a polypropylene microfibre that we have seen used for arm warmers, leg warmers and knee warmers, such as these from Alé.
From previous use of the material, I've found it to be good at keeping you warm and dry thanks to some decent wicking properties and insulation. That's exactly what you get here. I found it worked well between just above freezing with a softshell jacket, up to about 10°C with a lighter winter jersey on top or thin waterproof jacket.
The key thing about the GripGrab, though, is the way it is made. As you can probably guess from the name, it's pretty much produced in one piece with no seams. Well, there are two: one on the top of each shoulder running just to the top of the arm, although it is very small and barely noticeable.
Now, I've never worn any of my other baselayers and gone, 'I really wish they didn't have any seams.' But the GripGrab does feel better against the skin than most, though a lot of that admittedly is down to the softness of the fabric.
Cleverly, the knit pattern changes throughout the baselayer, being thicker where you are likely to be exposed to the wind and with a more vented style down the sides and underneath the arms, where it is actually a very fine mesh.
The material has a lot of stretch to it too, which means that even though it's so fine in these places there is little chance of it ripping. GripGrab says that if it does get torn it won't run or ladder either.
When it comes to sizing, GripGrab says that the Freedom has a 'next to skin fit' which it might for some but not all because of the fact that it only comes in two sizes, S/M (84-96cm chest) and L/XL (96-110cm chest).
I like a little bit of compression from a baselayer – nothing massive, just a close fit – and being near the bottom end of the L/XL I found it a little loose, especially when on the bike (it's not me in the photos). For me I'd like to see a small, medium, large and extra large, ideally.
There may not be loads of size options but there are a few colour choices: this navy blue, light blue, red or pink.
There is no escaping the price, though. A tag of £90 is pricey for a jersey let alone a layer that you are going to hide underneath it. Yes, the Freedom is very good at its job, but it's up against a lot of tough opposition. The Lusso Bioactive Thermal Polo baselayer costs just £34.99, for example, and scored well. Pactimo's High Grade Wool baselayer also scored well, with a few niggles but not many, and we still felt it was pricey at £70.
Apart from the sizing thing I can't really fault the Freedom, but even if that were sorted I think it would still be a little too rich for my taste; if you can find it at a discount, though, I'd thoroughly recommend it.
A very impressive baselayer when it comes to comfort and wicking but it's pricey and size options are limited
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road.cc test report
Make and model: GripGrab Freedom Seamless Thermal Base Layer LS
Size tested: Large/Extra Large
Tell us what the product is for
GripGrab says, "The Freedom Seamless Thermal Base Layer LS is a state of the art long sleeve base layer that combines high-performance functionality with a unique adaptable fit. Developed with freedom of movement in mind it delivers a feeling of being comfortable and functional dressed at the same time. The true seam-free construction eliminates bulky and irritating stitches. It is based on a sophisticated, high-tech knitting technology that provides a base layer that adapts to the body contours thanks to extraordinary flexibility.
"It incorporates Dryarn® polypropylene microfiber, which in addition to being dermatologically tested, enhances this product by adding bacteriostatic properties, thus reducing bad smell and facilitating easy care.
Adding to the qualities of this product, this garment has run proof properties, meaning that the yarn does not run or ladder if cut, making this base layer extra durable."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Ideal for cold to mild conditions
- Next to skin fit
- Breathable and insulating
- Moisture wicking
The size chart is right but I'd just like more options to get a closer fit.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A simple 30 degree wash is recommended by GripGrab and by following it I had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great wicking properties and warmth is all you can ask for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabric is so soft.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like more size options.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's pricier than the majority we've tested and those on the market.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, pretty much.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full whack.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There is a lot to like here but its overall price is the one sticking point; also, as I mention, I'd like a slightly closer fit.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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.