When suiting up for a cold ride, choosing the right baselayer is just as important as deciding which jersey or jacket to wear. The baselayer is your last defense against the elements and is what sits directly against your skin, wicking away moisture and keeping you dry and warm.
BikeRadartested a round of different women’s baselayers to find the best options for all types of weather and temperatures. These are our favorites.
Gore Windstopper Lady Shirt Long Sleeve
US$79 / £55
Best for cold and windy days
For really cold rides, the Gore Windstopper baselayer works very well. The windproof material across the chest and down each arm keeps you extra warm while protecting you from icy winds. The front windproof material is a bit thicker than most baselayers and a little bit stiff, but it's soft and comfortable and easily fits under a jersey or jacket.
Despite the windproof material in the front, the Gore Windstopper baselayer is quite breathable and doesn’t leave you drenched at the end of a ride. The back mesh paneling and underarm material wicks moisture away and keeps air trapped for a warm and dry experience.
The baselayer doesn’t stretch much due to the Windstopper material but it actually fits rather nicely. The tailored fit keeps it tight without feeling restrictive. The arm length is a bit short for our preferences but that is our only complaint.
Considering the typical durability of products from Gore, this Windstopper baselayer is priced well for the massive amounts of warmth and protection it offers.
Assos LS.skinFoil_fall Long Sleeve Baselayer US
US$119 / £67
Best for cool days under looser jerseys
The Assos LS.skinFoil_fall Long Sleeve Baselayer is very warm in windy and cold conditions despite not having windproof properties. Meant for autumn or spring riding, we found this baselayer also works great for cold winter rides.
Part of this warmth comes from the SkinFoil material that quickly absorbs and evaporates moisture. It’s a thicker material, comfortable against the skin, and even has odor-absorbing properties. However, the material is thicker than most baselayers, making it a tough fit under tighter-fitting jerseys.
However, even with the thicker material, the skinfoil base layer fits snugly against the body. Constructed from a seamless, tubular design, the top remains quite stretchy so it doesn’t feel restrictive. Even the arms are really long and stretchy and will cover riders with extra long arms like ours.
The LS.skinFoil_fall Long Sleeve Baselayer is not the warmest base layer out there, but it is versatile for both cool and cold weather riding.
Bontrager B2 Hooded Long Sleeve Women’s Baselayer
US$99 / £50
Best for unpredictable weather
Made from a blend of polyester and wool, the Bontrager B2 Hooded Long Sleeve is a great option for cooler rides when you don’t need a heavy or windproof baselayer. Helping you stay “warm when wet”, the wool also adds extra softness, comfort and anti-odor qualities.
The relaxed fit of this baselayer keeps things more casual and loose but the small details are what set it apart from the competition.
First, the hood provides extra protection from the elements if the weather acts up mid-ride. The hood can be worn under your helmet as an extra layer when the temperatures get really cold or if you forget to bring a hat. However, when we weren't wearing the hood, it didn’t flap around in the wind like we first expected it to. In fact, we barely noticed it when riding.
Second, the zipper dramatically increases the temperature range, and makes it easier to get on and off. It can effectively go from a V-neck to a balaclava, offering coverage for your chin, cheeks, ears and head.
Finally, the thumb hooks keep the sleeves in place when putting on a jersey and to prevent sleeves from riding up while on the bike.
This baselayer is warm and comfortable and we found ourselves reaching for it even when heading out for a hike or other outdoor adventure.