The first thing I noticed about these SubZero thermal base layers (women’s factor +1 long sleeve top & women’s factor +1 bolo john bottoms) was that they are very, very light in terms of physical weight.
This means that they are also very thin, though the polyamide material feels gorgeously soft and silky. As I find even the finest of merino wool layers make me itch to distraction, I’m a big fan of decent quality synthetic materials, but as these are so thin I was fairly sceptical as to how warm they were going to keep me, and whether they would be able to convert me from my trusty M&S favourites.
Along rolled a perfectly chilly autumn morning, 5 degrees Centigrade according to the BBC, with pockets of iced-up cars loitering around. Time for the first test – keeping me warm on my motorbike…
Having wriggled into the top and bottoms, I was particularly impressed at the leg length – these are not going to give you that horrible chilly strip around the top of your ankles, there’s plenty of material to keep you snug.
The arms are also a good length, though I found that from the elbow to wrist they weren’t as close fitting as everywhere else – a slightly odd place for a looser fit. Sadly there are also no thumb loops in the wrist section, something I find particularly handy (bu-dum-tish!).
A thumbs up for comfortable crotch shaping though – no bisecting seams to be found here! And parts of the material have ‘waffle zones’ for extra breathability – barely noticeable changes in the texture of the material, in the places where you’re likely to expel the most sweat.
I layered up with mid and top layers and headed off with some trepidation into the great outdoors. And I was very pleasantly surprised. I stayed toasty warm for my journey – including some fast dual carriageway blasting. Upon shedding my layers however, I found that the top had risen up slightly, and despite the elasticised waist the bottoms had also started to make their descent, presumably due to my seated position. So although they were so comfortable I didn’t notice, they don’t seem to want to stay quite where they are put. A second test with the top tucked into the bottoms annoyingly had the same result.
Next test – exercise. Having tested the thermal properties in a low effort way, I wanted to see how the wicking properties held up when worn for a nice long, sweaty, walk. So kitted up again, with walking-style mid and top layers this time, I dragged the other half out for some fresh, cold, air and exercise.
Again I stayed snug and warm, and my sweat was wicked away well – I was utterly comfortable. But again the waist rode up on the top (the bottoms stayed put much better). And I’ve noticed that the material on the arms is starting to very slightly bobble already, after less than half a dozen wears.
Overall, I absolutely love these, they tick my boxes for both comfort and performance. A couple of niggles that I’d like to see addressed, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be pushing my M&S specials to the back of the wardrobe for now…
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