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Chapeau Mesh Base Layer Short Sleeve



Slim-fitting summer baselayer that wicks well and dries out fast

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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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.

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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.

Chapeau Mesh Base Layer Short Sleeve - back.jpg

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!

> Buyer's Guide: 16 of the best cycling baselayers

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 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.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

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.

Rate the product for performance:

It shifts sweat well and dries out fast.

Rate the product for durability:

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.

Rate the product for fit:

It's a slim fit, as baselayers should be. The stretchy fabrics mean it doesn't feel tight.

Rate the product for sizing:

I took a large, as I usually do, and it fitted well.

Rate the product for weight:

It's a really lightweight baselayer.

Rate the product for comfort:

The side panels can be a bit more clingy than the mesh panels when wet, but it's very comfy overall.

Rate the product for value:

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

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

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 been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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