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Designed for warm weather use, the Hydra Tech Pro Fresco Short Sleeve Men's Base Layer is excellent: the lightweight fabric is exceptionally breathable and comfortable against the skin, with slightly thicker fabric panels that should aid durability. The only thing to watch is the sizing – the baselayer has a certain degree of stretch to provide a form-hugging fit, but does seem to come up a little smaller than other brands.
Receiving a baselayer that's claimed to 'set new standards in hot and warm weather cycling across the globe' might ordinarily seem a little optimistic for March and April in the UK, but after a surprising number of rides over 20°C during the testing period, before spring turned back into winter, I can confidently say that it is a high performer.
Pulling on the baselayer, I was immediately struck by how well it fitted, the material stretching to the contours of the body with no bagginess or excess bunching. It being a short sleeved baselayer, I paid particular attention to under the arms; having a climber's body shape certainly has its perks on climbs, but very often leads to spare material in the lower torso region, which can bunch under aero jerseys or high cut bibs, causing discomfort on long rides. None of that with the Fresco, I found that it was just as form fitting on me as on its much hencher model.
Although the overall fit was excellent, it should be noted that I'm normally right on the cusp of small/medium for jerseys and baselayers, and with a 37.5in chest I do indeed fit right between sizes on HTP's size guide. This medium baselayer fitted me perfectly but does feel smaller than other brands' medium baselayers I own, from the likes of Castelli and dhb. If you also find yourself between sizes, I'd recommend going for the larger of the two.
It's easy to see how the Fresco baselayer weighs just 67g with the majority being made from 95gsm fabric. Despite it being so thin and also fairly transparent (maybe keep this one for at home and under jerseys rather than public spin sessions), I have had no durability issues or worries that I'm going to tear the material. You can give the fabric a good tug with no worrying tearing sounds.
Also, there are some areas – over the tops of the shoulders, across the back of the shoulders and down the sides – that are made from a heavier weight 130gsm material. This is by no means thick, but should help to make the baselayer last and are in areas that won't impede breathability.
The 55% nylon, 28% polyester, 17% elastane fabric wicks sweat well, aided by a high surface area in contact with the body thanks to its form fit. The fabric shifts the moisture on well, not becoming heavy with sweat, drying out in the first few hundred metres of a descent after a hard climb. This makes the Fresco SS comfortable to wear even on long, intense and warm rides, whether outside or on the trainer indoors.
It's also nice to see that as well as getting the fundamentals right, the details haven't been overlooked: there's a distinct lack of labels, which aids comfort – the washing instructions are instead printed in the collar – the sleeves are suitably sized so as to not poke out of jersey sleeves, and the collar is cut fairly low to prevent it poking out of collarless aero jerseys.
At £49.99, HTP's offering is priced towards the premium end of the market, up with the likes of the Castelli Pro Mesh (£55) and the Megmeister Drynamo baselayer (£54.95) that we recently rated highly.
You can pay less – there is some strong competition in the shape of the Chapeau Mesh base layer at £34.99 – but I'd say the HTP has the credentials to back up its price: it's comfortable to wear, feels of high quality and has an excellent fit.
Excellent high-quality, lightweight baselayer with a performance fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hydra Tech Pro Fresco Short Sleeve Men's Base Layer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Hydra Tech Pro says: "We have worked hard to design a base layer that will perform in the hottest conditions. These are the ultimate in base layer garments which will set new standards in hot and warm weather cycling across the globe." During testing the base layer has performed well in hot conditions both indoors and outside, with excellent fit and breathability.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
55% nylon, 28% polyester, 17% Elastane
For use in warm or hot conditions
95gsm/120gsm Ultra-Lightweight Fabric
Fabrics feature MITI 'Fresh Feel' technology
Slightly heavier material across shoulders for added durability
Feels surprisingly robust for how thin and transparent it is, no issues after six weeks of solid use.
Very impressive, form-fitting without being restrictive.
Comes up smaller than other brands.
It's a really good baselayer that justifies the cost, but there are very good alternatives for less.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
30-degree wash, no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, wicks moisture well and keeps you cool in warm conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's towards the higher end of the market, though cheaper than Castelli and Megmeister designs I mention in the review. There are cheaper options – like the Chapeau Mesh baselayer at £35 – but its excellent performance and fit justifies its price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a high-quality product with an impressive fit, breathability and wicking properties.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,