Sub Zero – Factor 1 Base Layer

What I’d like you to do is to take today’s newspaper and open it up at the middle page. Then I’d like you to shove it down your top and wrap it around yourself and go for a walk.
Quite warm huh?
Your average daily broadsheet provides you with 1 TOG (you may recognise that as a way of measuring the warmth of your duvet) of insulation against the cold. Opened up to half its thickness, you get half this insulation, which is just a little bit more than the Sub Zero Factor 1 Base Layer. It is, I can assure you, quite toasty and warm.
You can take the newspaper off now.

Sub Zero is a British company which actually manufactures in the UK too. The Factor 1 is their base layer, which means that you wear it next to your skin to keep you warm and to wick away any sweat.

It feels great against the skin. Whilst it’s not ‘tight’ it does stretch over you and hug you as you move without getting either baggy or restrictive. It’s made from polyamide (Nylon I think), so if it gets wet it doesn’t take all your energy in drying itself out like cotton. Polyamide is also lighter than the equivalent Polyester, so if you compared the Factor 1 to a similar base layer of the same weight, you’d actually be getting more yarn. For this reason, it has a slightly higher TOG rating than most of its competitors (0.42 vs 0.39 which is like taking out the Business Section of your paper).

It’s seriously high-quality manufacture, with non-chafing flat seams and a sewing pattern which somehow seemed to turn my slightly soft-edged torso into something that looked far more chiselled and fit than it ought to. I wore it to work one day and got asked if I’d been working out. (No, I’d just missed breakfast)

I’ve taken my time testing the Factor 1 in a variety of conditions from bitterly cold and damp to sunny and warm – as such changes can happen on any given day in the UK – and I’ve been impressed by the results. Don’t get me wrong here, it won’t keep you toasty on a cold evening with no outer layers, but it does make a real, tangible difference to your core warmth.

I own thermal base-layers from Musto, M&S and someone else where the label has worn away, and the Factor 1 is leagues ahead of them all in terms of design and feel. It’s a proper garment and not your granddad’s underwear. It’s cut very long in the body, so you don’t get any cold draughts around your kidneys even when cycling or riding a motorbike, and I’ve just read that it offers a sun protection factor of 50+, which would be handy on the slopes.

Price wise, it’s not the cheap end of the market. It’s comparable in price to offerings from Under Armour, Smartwool or Helly Hansen; but then the quality and peace of mind of dealing with a small, specialist British company with a good industry reputation and 14-day refund guarantee is worth a lot.

I have the matching bottom half on review soon – it’s not quite cold enough to warrant wearing them yet.

SUMMARY: The Sub Zero Factor 1 is a well designed, exquisitely made garment which is comfortable and warm in use. Whether you be hiking, cycling, motorbike riding, climbing a mountain or sitting in a cold shed typing this review it offers a real difference in warmth against baggy or cotton layers. I’d worn mine for 3 days straight and it hadn’t developed any odour, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s been a genuine pleasure wearing the Factor 1. Teamed with a Factor 2 mid-layer and further outer layers, this could be an excellent winter outdoor solution.

Price: £34.99
From: SubZERO Store
Note: SubZERO have discount offers on at the moment
Tags and search info for this review: This is a base-layer review. GearWeAre.com tests and reviews thermals, base-layers, outdoor gear and camping equipment.

2 thoughts on “Sub Zero – Factor 1 Base Layer

  • December 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm
    Permalink

    great review! ive been hesitating on whether i should buy this item along with the factor 2 layer or not. ive been disappointed one too many thimes when it came to thermal underwear. youve convinced me. however i do have one question. you were mentioning that the underwear wasnt tight on you. in my case id rather have it tight on me. would it be possible to mention your height, weight and which size you tried? i live in south korea and i really dont want to risk buying the wrong size only to have it sent back and adding more to the already high price. thank you!

    Reply
  • December 7, 2010 at 9:36 am
    Permalink

    Hi Dan.
    The base-layers are close-fitting and 'snug', but not tight enough to be restrictive. They are comfortable and allow a full range of movement.

    I tried a Medium.
    I am 175cm tall and 70Kg, medium-build.

    Contact sales@subzero.co.uk for more information; they're very helpful.

    Thanks

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *