The other day, I purchased a Helly Hansen Dry Stripe T-Shirt, based on the overwhelming number of positive reviews I’d been reading online. The shirt cost me £22 from Wiggle and seems to be a generally similar price wherever you go.
Base layers, as I’ve learned, can be very useful even in warm weather – but especially so now that we are in the Autumn and coming up for Winter. The Helly Hansen range of base layers features something that HH call “LIFA Stay-Dry Technology”, which claims to be able to keep you feeling dry, even when you’re sweating buckets out on a ride. HH produce a range of base layers, but the two big sellers are titled either “Dry” or “Warm”. I purchased the “Dry” t-shirt so that it can fit comfortably underneath my cycling jerseys, but you can also get them with long sleeves as well.
The shirt arrived within a couple of days from Wiggle, packaged in a little green and white box. The shirt itself feels quite thin and rough to handle (part of the “LIFA Technology, I guess), but is comfortable when worn. I had to place quite a lot of faith in HH’s size guide, which had me down as a “Large” size. Being a bit on the tubby side, I’m used to buying clothes in an “XL” size, but HH’s guide was accurate and the shirt was a snug fit. It is meant to be a bit clingy, since other clothes are worn over the top of it. I decided to test the shirt out on a 40-mile ride out to Reading in Berkshire on a warm day.
The base layer performed admirably when being worn under a standard lycra jersey. I was sweating and puffing all the way round, but not once did I feel wet or uncomfortable with the Helly Hansen on. When I stopped for a quick lunch break, I felt my skin and I was dry. There was no uncomfortable rubbing and I didn’t feel like a boil-in-the-bag dinner underneath my top. I was impressed. I was also surprised that I didn’t feel overheated at all throughout the ride.
The second test I gave the HH was during one of my early morning commuter rides. Setting off from my house at 5.30am almost always means that it’s cold, whatever the time of year, so I wore an Altura Night Vision jacket over the top of my lycra kit. Usually this means I sweat a lot and despite the jacket’s vents and best efforts to keep me cool, the inside is usually wet to the touch by the time I get to my station just 3 miles away. However, wearing the HH underneath, for the first time in just about ever, I was dry when I arrived at the station. I was hot & sweaty, cycling in the cold, but my clothes were dry – the HH had taken it all – and I didn’t feel uncomfortable in the slightest. I have worn it on every cycle ride since.
I only own the one Helly Hansen base layer shirt, but will purchase more as soon as my finances allow. It is one of the best bits of cycling clothing I’ve ever bought. Personally, I couldn’t wear it as a “t-shirt in its own right,” as Helly claim – mostly because I’m a fat bastard and it would make me look like I was wearing a stripey gimp suit – but I can see how cyclists of a slimmer profile could do so. The shirt is warm (even the “Dry” product) but not uncomfortable even in warm weather, where its “wicking” properties come into their own. This comfort is worth £22 of anyone’s money, so do yourself a favour this autumn and join the hordes of happy reviewers on the internet.