The GripGrab WindBreaking Thermal Short Sleeve Base Layer is a thicker design than typical, and features a windproof front, meaning you won't have to reach for the gilet you put in your back pocket just in case. It works don't-know-it's-there well, feeling just like a normal baselayer, its thicker and windproof layers not getting sweaty but keeping the chill off effectively.
For more options, check out our guide to the best cycling base layers.
I've had baselayers in the past that have sported a windproof front but it's been grafted on, and while useful, the extra layer has always very much felt like an afterthought – and crinkly and a bit sweaty. The GripGrab is a totally integrated garment that you wouldn't know had a windproof front, and it works very well.
As befits its probable use in the seasons where a bit of windproofing to the front would be beneficial, it's not a svelte airy summer baselayer but a far more sturdy garment. It's made from a thick and heavy material that gives the top its Thermal moniker. Calling it genuinely thermal, given what's generally understood as such, is a bit of a stretch, but it's denser and warmer than a skimpy summer layer, and about the weight of your usual long sleeve baselayer, but with short arms. So depending on what level of clothing you layer on top, it can be worn in a wide variety of temperatures – personal ability to deal with certain conditions depending, of course. I found it great for mid-teen temperatures that hover around spring and autumn, and even handy for evening or night summer rides.
The medium size on test was a little loose on me on the body, but fine on the arms; not so much to be a baggy bother, but my continual battle with bike clothing sizing continues. I've always been a medium but am frequently finding I have to size down to a small these days.
The GripGrab chart puts me squarely in the centre of its size small, but I have two other GripGrab baselayers, one in small and the other in medium/large, both of which are pleasingly compression snug, as well as one of its summer jerseys in a medium that's also similarly close fitting, so it's a bit of a lottery really.
Back, sides and arms are a thick mesh material with a waffle pattern to the inside that makes it sturdy, while the front and shoulders are the single layer Arrowind Windbreaking fabric, a tighter weave cloth so it can do its breeze busting job. It has a warp knit construction that GripGrab says blocks up to 80% of windchill-inducing air particles, with the clever bit coming from the 20% of the air particles that do get through helping to dry perspiration.
And it works very, very well. It looks and feels like a normal fabric without the shine or crinkle of other fabrics that boast wind resistance, which is lovely, and despite its thick construction and windproof character it's still incredibly breathable. It never became sweaty even when its windproof benefits weren't required, even on the thicker wind-resistant panels on efforty climbs.
Adding to the sciencey bit alongside the Arrowind is the garment's Polygiene treatment, which is 'Wear More. Wash Less' technology that uses silver ions to reduce the build-up of odour-inducing bacteria and doesn't wash out. It's nothing new in baselayer world, but less smelly kit means you might be able to wash it less, which both extends the life of the baselayer and minimises its environmental impact too. Your personal hygiene regime may mean you need to wash a baselayer every session, but this GripGrab baselayer definitely had less of a whiff to it at the end of a ride, and I can stink out clothing.
The GripGrab baselayer is quite a specific thing, making it hard to find direct comparisons. That said, there's the dhb Aeron Windproof Short Sleeve Base Layer, which is just £35, and the Craft Active Extreme X Wind SS base layer that Shaun tested in 2020, which is a lighter weight than the GripGrab and £50.
Gore has a Windstopper Base Layer Shirt in its wardrobe for £59.99. We haven't tested that, but Siobhan reviewed the long sleeve version a while back and was very complimentary, although the windproof panels are added over the top of a baselayer rather than integrated like the GripGrab.
I should also mention the 'is it a baselayer or is it a gilet' Spatzwear BurnR Gilet, which works better as a gilet than a baselayer, but at £134.99 is alarmingly the money you'd spend on a long-sleeved jersey or jacket.
I'm not very thermal and seem to feel the chill more than others. I'm the one wrapped in several layers while everyone else is in a short-sleeved top, and I always roll a gilet or lightweight jacket in my back pocket for the fresher start or finish of a ride, just in case. With the GripGrab WindBreaking Thermal Short Sleeve Base Layer there was no need to think about carrying an extra layer, and it would genuinely play with my head, as years of conditioning would suggest that conditions dictate I should probably put a gilet on, especially towards the end of a ride and dropping off the hill into a chill wind towards home. But the WindBreaking baselayer totally negated that Pavlovian need.
Excellent baselayer that's thicker than normal with an effective windproof front that means you can ride gilet free
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Make and model: GripGrab WindBreaking Thermal Short Sleeve Base Layer
Tell us what the product is for
"The GripGrab WindBreaking Thermal Short Sleeve Base Layer is the protection and comfort you need for cycling in challenging weather conditions. Employing the innovative Arrowind™ technology, this exciting new base layer pushes the boundaries in combining wind protection, best-in-class breathability and great freedom of movement. Leave your gilet at home even on the windiest days thanks to the windbreaking fabric on the front and shoulders blocks up to 80% of the air particles that bombard your torso.
Many windproof base layers feature a second-layer panel of non-stretch windproof membrane material on the front that can restrict movement and lead to heat build-up. The GripGrab WindBreaking Thermal Short Sleeve Base Layer, however, employs a new single-layer fabric that is exceptionally breathable and flexible.
The windbreaking fabric on the front and shoulders blocks up to 80 percent of the air particles that bombard your torso while maintaining the same breathability found in warp-knitted fabrics. The back of this base layer is made from ultra-breathable, high-stretch material which wicks away sweat and allows heat build-up to dissipate. The combined result is protection and heat control that keeps you comfortable on your ride.
To keep you fresh and odour-free, it features Polygiene® treatment. Its 'Wear More. Wash Less®' technology uses silver ions to reduce the build-up of odour-inducing bacteria. The treatment is entirely safe to wear against the skin and doesn't wash out. Reduced bacteria build-up leads to reduced odour and therefore reduced washing frequency, meaning that Polygiene® can also significantly extend the life of a base layer and minimise its environmental impact."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
GripGrab lists these details:
* Highly breathable
* Arrowind™ technology
* Polygiene® anti-odour fabric treatment
* Next to skin flexible fit
CARE & COMPOSITION
* Machine wash 30°C
* Do not bleach
* Do not iron
* Do not tumble dry
* Do not wring
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:
While a little baggy on me, it wasn't a real issue and fit everywhere was fine.
Rate the product for sizing:
Check sizing, this medium was a little loose on medium me.
Rate the product for weight:
For a short sleeve baselayer it's chunky, as befits its chillier season use.
Rate the product for comfort:
Rate the product for value:
It's not the cheapest short-sleeved baselayer but you're paying for that windproof tech, so saving money on a gilet. Dhb's
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Luzzed in with all the other cycling kit at 30 degrees, no problem.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
An excellent windproof baselayer that doesn't feel like a windproof baselayer; a gilet-free option for those breezy days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Genuinely windproof, and not sweaty because of it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit was a little baggy but nothing to worry too much about.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
dhb's Aeron Windproof Short Sleeve Base Layer is cheaper at £35, as is the lighter weight Craft Active Extreme X Wind SS base layer at £50.
Gore's Windstopper Base Layer Shirt is slightly more, £59.99, while the 'is it a base layer or is it a gilet' Spatzwear BurnR Gilet is alarmingly the money you'd spend on a long sleeved jersey or jacket.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, I was genuinely surprised and impressed, but might try a small.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a genuinely excellent bit of kit. It might seem a bit niche but it was more useful than I thought it could be. A denser weight short-sleeved baselayer, it's perfect for those less than warm days when you might also benefit from its breeze-shrugging benefits. The wind-stopping front works incredibly well, totally negating the need to pack a 'just in case' gilet, and yet doesn't get sweaty when making an effort in stiller air. Best of all, it feels just like a normal baselayer; it's some kind of magic.
Age: 50 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
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