There’s a lot of debate in the cycling world about whether wool or synthetics are better. Personally, like most things in my life, I take a hybrid approach. I recently developed a new layering technique that I thought I’d share: wear a long-sleeved synthetic baselayer with a short-sleeved wool jersey over it (and then a jacket over that). Try it, it’s amazing.
Here’s the back story: I have a couple of long-sleeved wool baselayers, which I use in cool to cold temperatures. I’m a big fan of these, but I started to realize that if I dressed warmly enough to keep my torso warm, my arms would overheat. I started looking around for a midweight sleeveless baselayer. What I discovered is, nearly all of the appropriate sleeveless garments are very thin, and intended to be worn in hot weather, not intended to keep you warm. I guess they figure that if you don’t want sleeves, you’re trying to keep cool. Not quite true in my case.
I also have some short- and long-sleeved synthetic baselayers/jerseys. I tried a few combinations of these with the wool baselayers. I still had the same problem.
Then, I remembered that I had purchased a short-sleeved wool cycling jersey this summer at a deep discount. I had read that wool is cool in the summer, and wanted to find out if that was true. For me, this claim turned out not to be true at all. I was miserable in warm weather in the short-sleeved wool jersey. And it didn’t block wind well enough in cool weather to be used alone. So, I put it on a shelf and didn’t think about it for a few months.
When I remembered I had that jersey, I tried wearing it over a long-sleeved synthetic baselayer. For me, this combination is absolutely perfect! The synthetic baselayer wicks the sweat away from my skin, and keeps my arms warm enough. The wool jersey keeps my core warm. Of course, you can add and remove layers as necessary. I wear all of this under a wind shell. You could try variations using a vest, depending on conditions.
I hope this helps someone out there. This tip seems obvious in hindsight, but it took a lot of trial and error to arrive at this technique. Do you have any layering tips to share?