- Helly Hansen Freeze base layer
Once again it’s the time of year when things are turning a little chilly (or at least it is as we write this, in case you’ve stumbled across this article in July. Or should that be “will have stumbled”? Or brains hurt…). With that in mind, here’s a new base layer from Helly Hansen.
HH is, of course, the company responsible for the original Lifa base layer, the polypropylene garment that earned itself the sobriquet “Smelly Helly”. They kept you warm, but they didn’t half niff. That was quite a long time ago, though, and while the Lifa name lives on the fabrics that it’s attached to have evolved considerably.
All of which brings us to the Freeze. Helly Hansen divides its base layers into Warm, Dry and Cool categories depending on how cold the conditions are and how much effort you’re planning to exert. The Freeze is in the Warm category, and designed for “activities involving a lot of stop and go”. That’s certainly the defining characteristic of most of our rides, so this should be the ideal garment.
Unusually, the Freeze is more than just a base layer – it’s got two layers. The inner layer uses Lifa T3 fabric. T3 means “thermic tube technology” which essentially meants that the fibres in the fabric are hollow. This should contribute to better insulation and moisture evacuation. The outer layer contains a healthy proportion of magical Merino wool – warm, soft feel and non-smelly.
We don’t expect too many features in a base layer – the Freeze has a front zip, a slightly longer back and some reflective bits on the forearms. In use, it’s certainly warm, to the point that if it’s above three or four degrees you might want something slightly less warm. All the wicking cleverness seems to do the job, though – you can exert yourself noticeably more in this than in some other base layers of similar warmth.
Positives: Choice of colours, doesn’t smell, easy to wash, very warm, not too clammy, decent price for a Merino garment
Negatives: Might turn out to be too warm some of the time
Just like bikes themselves have diversified, so there isn’t really any such thing as just “a base layer” any more. Some are lightweight, airy and just a bit warm, some are heftier and very warm indeed. The Freeze is heavily towards the warm end of the spectrum but has impressive wicking powers that mean you stay dry and comfortable even if it’s not quite as nippy out as you thought. Whether it’s worth paying the extra over a less clever garment is up to you, though.