You saw the preview. Now for the actual review.
OK, it's a baselayer, about as un-sexy as cycling clothing gets, right? I mean, they're so un-sexy that they're typically gray or black. Nobody's going to see them. Nobody will be impressed by you.
Except your own skin, and your core. I've worn the Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer several times now, in sub-freezing temps and more normal wet, humid gloom and ... well, let's let the skin and core take it from here.
Uh, hey. I've never written anything here before, so first I should say thanks to Fingers for their invaluable assistance in pulling this off.
OK, the Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer? Oh, I remember that. That was the one that clung to me like it was me. Let's be frank -- I'm not a huge fan of baselayers. Not only are they doing *my* job, but they tend to feel either too loose or too tight. And if they're going for warmth, they tend to itch.
The Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer clung to me without feeling the slightest bit tight, and yet it clung to me so well that it couldn't possibly get pulled around by any other layers and cause chafing or bunching. Seams are minimal and almost impossible to notice. The coverage extends over the wrists, thanks to thumb-holes at the end of the sleeve which a) ensure that the sleeves don't bunch up the arm and b) should be mandatory on all winter wear. The highest compliment skin can pay to another layer is saying it's like me. And consider that paid here.
The other comfort factor -- feel -- is also met by the Body-Mapped Baselayer. The fabric is a mix of wool, nylon, spandex and modal. The latter, a type of rayon, is what makes an essentially wool (ish) garment not itch. The Body-Mapped baselayer feels reasonably soft and comfortable, and while you can sorta feel a little bit of the wool factor when you first pull on the top, it's something I forgot about within seconds. Compared to pretty much any other wool-based layer, this is as comfortable as it gets.
OK, let's kick it over to Core.
Thanks Skin, and thanks Fingers. Unlike Skin, however, I am at least partially responsible for everything Chris has written on this blog. So you're welcome.
So yeah, wool. There simply is no replacement for it in the realm of winter outdoor sports performance. Everything not wool is either colder or hotter or both -- and not in a good way. The Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer performs like other pure wool (re itchy and disintegrating over time) items in Chris's collection -- feels great in any weather. This includes a rare cold snap in Seattle over Thanksgiving, and the heavy, wet air that's persisted ever since -- including some unusually warm days. I never got cold, since, you know, we were pedaling a bike, but more importantly I never got overheated. That's what wool brings to the table. And while the Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer is only part wool, it performs as well as the real deal. This is the gold standard.
Back to Chris
OK, I think I've taken that far enough. A few more notes.
- Showers Pass are something like the Official Rain Jacket of the Pacific Northwest. After getting this baselayer in the mail, I was driving downtown along Dexter, which is Seattle's downtown bike-commute superhighway. [Yes, I was driving. Shut up.] At a light there were five bikes cued up, and four of them had the identical Showers Pass Elite 21 jacket, or an earlier version thereof. This is a beloved brand here, and yes, I am aware they're based in Portland. But after the Sounders took the Supporters' Shield, I can afford to say nice things about Portland again.
- I tested the baselayer with a different brand jacket, and got the excellent results discussed above. The Body-Mapped Baselayer is body-mapped to their jackets' performance features: namely, with extra venting ability in the armpits and back. That's clever and another reason to buy their jackets, but it's hardly the kind of evil tethering you see in, I dunno, software? Plenty of jackets feature the same basic venting concepts. If your outer layer from another brand has vents, chances are they'll match up closely enough with the Body-Mapped Baselayer to enjoy the functionality of it. And if your jacket is an old-school plastic sheet? Well, at least your baselayer won't be to blame. Bottom line: you'll like this item well enough regardless of whether you have all their other products.
- I wish I had time to get this out in the thick of the holiday shopping period, but the reality is that this is a nearly year-round item. I barely took it off during our cold snap, especially in our drafty old house. I will most definitely be wearing it skiing, especially cross-country, which it is perfect for (hello thumb holes!).
- The Body-Mapped Baselayer actually retails for $69, which is less than some other top brands I also like. Surprisingly cheap.
- Any downsides? Not really. The shape is a bit longer than my torso, which is to say that they've designed an item in one shape, and chose a more athletic one than the version I'm sporting. So it goes a bit low. People who are shaped like actual cyclists might find this to their advantage. People like me will just tuck it in. It beats the alternative of people with narrower profiles finding the shape too short and popping up in the back. Nobody wins there.
- Speaking of shape, there's a women's version. For you XX chromosome types.