In praise of … Helly Hansen


Keeping warm, keeping cool, keeping clean – and when touring – keeping light.

HH Lifa baselayers were first popularised by orienteers. They needed something they could run up hills in and get hot, run down and not get cold and would work dry and soaking wet. Most importantly it must be very light and cause no rubbing. Bit like the average cyclists dreamwear!

It is simple just a thin synthetic layer that has one amazing property – to wick. It moves moisture away from the skin. So sweat is no longer an issue which is uncomfortable when perspiring and deathly on downhills when a wet layer against the skin freezes the life out of you. It has no thermal insulation in itself which is why it works equally well in summer with just a thin shirt on top and winter underneath all the padding you need. It makes both feel so much more comfortable. And the prevention of the build up of moisture against the skin keeps you cool or warm as required.

That’s good for day rides. But it is even better for touring. First being next to the skin it protects the other layers from perspiration, body oill and the unhelpful odours that follow. Which means you can wear the next layer for more than a day. Saves on packing extra clkean wear or having to wash them out with little time to dry overnight. You just wash the HH. Because of its wicking ability you just hang it up and it will drip dry itself overnight with no problem.

When touring I wear one HH during the day ride, change to a fresh in the evening, was the dirty and pack that for the following evening. It screws up into the size of a hankerchief (not a recommended use) for easy packing. I wouldn’t tour without two.

Comes in long, short sleeve variants. RRP about £30 but you can usually save a fiver online.