Published by Lyn on 19 November 2014
With winter well and truly here, we road-test Damart's thermal sport baselayers for men and women. By Richard Peace and Lynette Eyb.
Men's and women's thermal sport baselayers
Prices and colours vary
Richard writes: I must admit to not being a particularly big fan of outdoor 'specific' clothing, often finding regular (and less expensive and longer lasting) clothing will work just fine. However, cycling in the cold can be a problem with any old clothing, moreso than the rain I find.
I began wearing Damart's thermolactyl sport shirt and full length pants early in the autumn and the only time I have taken them off has been to wash them (it's now mid-December). I've found them simply superb.
Initially they felt too warm, but the temperature has dropped and my skin has got used to the contour moulding fit, so I hardly notice I have them on now - your skin just feels naturally warmer.
Damart is a French company specialising in manufacturing clothes in Thermolactyl fibre, which has been around since Damart came up with in the 1950s. However it seems to have taken on a whole new level of comfort and insulating properties since I last experienced it a few decades ago when it was bought for me as a schoolchild. For fibre fetishists, the mix of my particular test garments is 70% polyester, 20% polyamide and 10% elastane.
Thermolactyl clothing comes in 5 grades (1 offering the least insulation, rated only down to 15 degrees and 5 the most, going down to -20 degrees). These T-shirt and long johns are rated 2, down to 5 degrees, but I have just had a very leisurely ride in them on a very frosty early morning wearing only jeans and a puffer jacket on top and have been toasty warm. I would hazard a guess that if you are a reasonably sporty cyclist and work up a bit of body heat, then they would do for even lower subzero temperatures too.
The material seems extremely breathable - I've had no problems with clamminess even after vigorous exercise – and the kit has been washed several times and shows no shrinkage. Its lack of bulk and its light weight mean it's ideal to take a spare set with you cycle touring. As it the material is very stretchy.
I would imagine the two sizes available would fit most shapes and sizes.
It might look pricey, but I'm hoping to get several winters wear out of it and if I do will consider it great value for money.
Lyn writes: I've been wearing my Damart Sport thermals now for almost a month, mostly on brisk early and mid-afternoon rides of up to 20km. At first I was wearing them with just a short-sleeve top, my cycling jacket and jeans; more recently I've added a lightweight long-sleeve pullover to the mix, but I've never felt more or less than just right. After getting off the bike, I was expecting that hot and sweaty feeling but it never really arrived.
The only caveat I'd add to Richard's excellent overview above is to take extra care when pulling them on and off; the material is so lightweight (very similar to tights or thickish stockings), that a errant fingernail or a bit of dry skin could easily catch and potentially tear a ladder.
Now, to sort out those frozen toes ...