Chapeau's Mesh Base Layer is a light, close-fitting top that moves moisture away from your skin well to keep you feeling comfortable in summer temperatures.
- Pros: Wicks well, airy, close fitting
- Cons: Side panels don't wick as well
It is made mostly from a polyester/elastane mesh that's pretty see-through when you hold it up to the light. More to the point, the structure shifts moisture from the surface of your skin well and allows damp, sweaty air to pass through.
The mesh dries out quickly, although I have polypropylene baselayers that dry faster still. That said, I've never noticed the Chapeau baselayer feeling cold against my skin on a descent as a result of hanging onto the moisture I've generated on a climb.
The mesh is used everywhere except for the side panels. These are polyester/elastane too but the fabric is more of a consistent depth and density. I did find that these panels could occasionally become a little more clammy with sweat and a little less eager to dry out, but your sides don't tend to sweat as much as the rest of your torso so it's rarely an issue.
The fit is close throughout, with enough stretch in all directions to ensure plenty of comfort without any bunching. The seams are flat-stitched so you can't even feel them when you have the top on, and the washing instructions are printed on the inside of the side panel so there's no need for a separate label which might cause irritation.
Chapeau offers its Mesh Base Layer in a range of colour schemes to complement its lineup of jerseys. Matching them up really is going the extra mile in terms of sartorial elegance, particularly given that a baselayer is, by its very nature, going to spend most of its life entirely covered up. I can report that I used this top with a bunch of non-matching jerseys and they can't touch you for it!
The price is good in the context of the baselayer market generally. The short sleeve version of the dhb Aeron Body Map baselayer that we reviewed is £30 (we reviewed the sleeveless version last year), for example, while something like Rapha's short sleeve Brevet baselayer is much more expensive at £60. I reckon you're getting an impressive baselayer for the money here.
Sleeveless models are available too. They're £29.99.
Slim-fitting summer baselayer that wicks well and dries out fast
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau Mesh Base Layer Short Sleeve
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
This is a summer-weight baselayer (or 'vest' in old money).
Chapeau says, "The Chapeau Mesh Base Layer is soft on your skin, snug fit and stylish. It will whisk moisture away when you're working hard all whilst staying fresh and keeping your temperature just right.
"It's designed to be a 'can't live without it' favourite that's as home on the turbo in the shed of dread as it is on your summer holidays, racing to the final cafe stop of the day.
"Available with or without sleeves, the Italian kite mesh fabric wicks moisture away from your skin, feels soft and comfy and looks as good in Watopia as it does peaking through your jersey on your local club run.
"We've created options for co-ordination and earning style points - PBs are multiplied when the base layer options look as sharp as these."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The mesh sections are 86% polyester, 14% elastane. The side panels are 94% polyester, 6% elastane. The fabrics offer a similar degree of stretch in all directions.
The construction is really good with flat seams throughout and the composition/washing instructions info printed on the side panel so there's no need for a flappy label.
It shifts sweat well and dries out fast.
I know from experience with other baselayers that you need to be quite careful with the mesh fabric to avoid pulled threads (particularly around any Velcro fastenings), although that doesn't affect performance to any great degree.
I've been using this baselayer for several months and the seams are still fully intact. All is looking good.
It's a slim fit, as baselayers should be. The stretchy fabrics mean it doesn't feel tight.
I took a large, as I usually do, and it fitted well.
It's a really lightweight baselayer.
The side panels can be a bit more clingy than the mesh panels when wet, but it's very comfy overall.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Like most cycling stuff, it goes in the machine at 40°C. It handles that just fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs well to shift sweat away from your body, and it dries out really quickly. I found the non-mesh side panels a bit more clingy than the mesh panels.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The mesh fabric is great, as is the close fit. I really like the appearance too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
'Dislike' would be strong but the side panels don't shift moisture as well as the mesh.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Rapha's short sleeve Brevet baselayer is quite different but it is also a polyester/elastane mix and it's priced at £60.
The dhb Aeron Body Map short sleeve baselayer, on the other hand, is £30 (we reviewed the sleeveless version last year).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yeah, I'd consider it.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a very good product at a decent price. It's a solid 8.
About the tester
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.