Reverence: DeFeet Un-D-Shurt and Un-D-Lite

Reverence: DeFeet Un-D-Shurt and Un-D-Lite

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As indispensable and overlooked as the gilet, the undervest is the only piece of cycling kit that comes with me on every single ride, year round, in hot, in cold, in wet, or in dry. While one could be forgiven for assuming an undervest lives out its life as an insulation layer, the undervest serves a critical, more fundamental purpose: as a wicking layer.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of carrying a gallon jug of water, you will have noticed that water is not particularly light, nor particularly dry. If you’ve suffered the further indignation of having said gallon jug of water poured over your head after making a pithy remark, you will have noticed that the introduction of water to your clothing makes them both heavier and less warm. As cyclists, these characteristics don’t do much for us in the way of making our sport easier from the perspective that sweat is made up largely of water and thus has a tendency to make the clothing we’re wearing both wet and heavy. Enter the base layer, whose specialty is not so much in keeping us warm, but keeping us dry.

If I’ve understood physics correctly, these magical fabrics are designed to maximize the capillary action of fluids by sucking the water in our sweat away from the skin and towards the outside of the fabric where it can either evaporate or at least stop touching us. Even though the fabrics in our jerseys and bibs are heralded as being able to perform this task on their own, they are busy doing other things as well, and I find that using a layer dedicated to this purpose improves the effect greatly.

To be fair, though, the thought of wearing an undervest – or any additional thread of clothing for that matter – is far from inviting when kitting up in the middle of Summer. This is where DeFeet really shines with their multiple weights of undershirts, each targeted at a different temperature range. From the cooler months of September, through Winter and on into Spring, the Un-D-Shurt tank base layer is my go-to garment, keeping me dry but also adding a bit of warmth to stave off the cool air around Puget Sound. Once the mercury starts rising, however, I switch to the Un-D-Lite, which is much more lightweight and purpose-driven towards wicking rather than also insulating.

With both of these pieces, they are so stretchy, soft, comfortable, and good at keeping your skin dry, I never even notice I’m wearing them. I’d like to meet whomever figured out how to make this stuff; their brains must be so big, I bet you can spot it when you look in their ear.

// Accessories and Gear // Reverence

  1. Totally inappropriate but too funny not to post. The headline Borat 3 Poms 0 in the Melbourne paper in reference to The Glorious Khazak nation having 3 golds and the Old country yet to break the duck. Here is the accompanying photo.

  2. @frank

    But enough of us theorizing; in January, when I do Haleakala again, you’ll just have to join me in my attempt and then we’ll see which one of us is the hotter, more angry man.

    Hum. Haleakala in January. Hum. Maybe want some company?

  3. @frank

    I’ve found the same situation, though the above observations about humidity give me pause. But in general, I’ve found the same thing you have; even in cases when the jersey is good at wicking, it has too many other jobs to do as compared to a base layer devoted to the function.

    That said, a wool base layer in summer is not the way to go; you need a good, lightweight version which does no insulating and focusses purely on evaporation. Even in the baking heat on Maui, the base layer is indispensable.

    Of course, it has to be a summer-weight layer. I’ve been generally happy with Craft’s and Assos’ sleeveless. Sometimes, just putting it on at home has a nicer feeling (compared to ye ‘ole Au Naturel) when the ventilator blows a light breeze. Certain super-thin socks have that same effect too – RH+ and Assos summer socks are the ones I’ve tried.

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing next-year’s new Assos base layers – the designs are completely seamless, and woven like a sock – meaning the thickness of the fabric can be varied according to need. If the samples were Small rather than Mediums, I would’ve figured a way to sneak them out – amazing stuff, despite the cost. If it seems ludicrous for a student Velominatus to wear such expensive stuff – Assos is actually priced lower here than in the US/Europe, not more expensive than Nalini and Castelli’s offerings. That plus employee discounts equals the cheapest, highest-quality gear around. Full Uno kit, or a Flandrian Best set, for $80? Oh yeah.

  4. @graham d.m.

    @Frank you, sir, are psycho.

    Fixed your post.

  5. @eightzero

    @frank

    But enough of us theorizing; in January, when I do Haleakala again, you’ll just have to join me in my attempt and then we’ll see which one of us is the hotter, more angry man.

    Hum. Haleakala in January. Hum. Maybe want some company?

    As the dates firm up, stand by for announcement of a Cogal. Obvs Gianni will be DS’ing the Haleakala ride, with the VMH on bidon/camera/mocking detail.

    Cogal will likely be the East Maui Loop (that might not be the route exactly but its close), which I hear tell has been recently repaved so won’t require special wheels. New Years Dayish.

  6. Alright, I was convinced to order the UnD Lite.  Looking forward to comparing it to other base layers I’ve used.  But their shipping costs are a bit ridic.  Of course I ordered some socks, too, but  crikey…  $13 to mail a 50-gram piece of fabric within the continental US?  

    I’m sure I’ll forget all about the shipping costs when I’m grinding my arthritic knees and inhaling wasps up Mt. Baker next month and staying fresh as a daisy.

  7. @frank – Ya know, I might even make a point to try this… If you don’t mind a straggler who’ll take 12 hours to climb the damn thing. ;-)

  8. Ohhh man, that East Maui loop looks super sweet. When I visit Hawaii in 2014 I may force Gianni to ride it with me.

  9. @frank

    Cogal will likely be the East Maui Loop (that might not be the route exactly but its close), which I hear tell has been recently repaved so won’t require special wheels. New Years Dayish.

    Rumors of repaving have been overstated. Still a few miles of Maui cobbles, dirt roads and generally terrible surfaced crap. Nothing a little deflating and re-inflating of tires won’t fix.

    Frank, I think we sweat at different rates. Meaning I sweat like a huge puffy bastard and you don’t. NASA is still working on a baselayer that works for me when I’m going uphill.

  10. @mcsqueak

    Bring it, son! As long as you are ready for an O-dark:thirty departure and mass quantities of Big Swell IPA as recovery beverage. It gets hot fast out here so getting the first climb going early is a must for Mr Big.

  11. I was just in Maui last week. Rented bike at South Maui Bikes (Madone) and did the Haleakala climb. Awesome. 5 hours up. 1.5 hours down. Would have liked to do West Maui but not enough time – had to choose one.


  12. @eightzero

    As the dates firm up, stand by for announcement of a Cogal. Obvs Gianni will be DS’ing the Haleakala ride, with the VMH on bidon/camera/mocking detail.

    Cogal will likely be the East Maui Loop (that might not be the route exactly but its close), which I hear tell has been recently repaved so won’t require special wheels. New Years Dayish.

    I’ve caught the Cogal bug.  Airline tickets go down a few hundred bucks right after NYE/D.  And we all know where that extra money will go, straight to the recovery drink fund.  Looks like I need to find a bicycle transport case majig.

  13. I’m an obvious master of the internet, and quoting.

  14. @Gianni

    Frank, I think we sweat at different rates. Meaning I sweat like a huge puffy bastard and you don’t. NASA is still working on a baselayer that works for me when I’m going uphill.

    Do the prototypes involve a composite of helium, Spanish Beef, and diuretic?

    @roger

    Awesome!

  15. @frank

    @Gianni

    Frank, I think we sweat at different rates. Meaning I sweat like a huge puffy bastard and you don’t. NASA is still working on a baselayer that works for me when I’m going uphill.

    Do the prototypes involve a composite of helium, Spanish Beef, and diuretic?

    @roger

    Awesome!

    more like Krypton, Spam and cat adrenal gland.

  16. @Gianni

    @mcsqueak

    Bring it, son! As long as you are ready for an O-dark:thirty departure and mass quantities of Big Swell IPA as recovery beverage. It gets hot fast out here so getting the first climb going early is a must for Mr Big.

    Thanks to the magic of time zones (and science!), on previous trips I’ve learned that getting up early in Hawaii is no problem since I’m going back a few zones.

    I’ll keep you posted as, uh… 20-freakin-14 (ugh, sooo far) draws closer.

  17. @drsims

    I was just in Maui last week. Rented bike at South Maui Bikes (Madone) and did the Haleakala climb. Awesome. 5 hours up. 1.5 hours down. Would have liked to do West Maui but not enough time – had to choose one.

    You chose the tough one without the brew pub enroute. Nice work though, up and down is quite a ride.

  18. @Gianni

    Found their Coconut Porter on tap at a local pub a few months back. Had it from a can previously, and the coconut could hardly be tasted. But it came out very well in the draft version… very tasty.

  19. @drsims

    I was just in Maui last week. Rented bike at South Maui Bikes (Madone) and did the Haleakala climb. Awesome. 5 hours up. 1.5 hours down. Would have liked to do West Maui but not enough time – had to choose one.

    was this Maui Cycling? Can you provide a link to their website?

  20. @frank

    @graham d.m.

    @Frank you, sir, are psycho.

    Fixed your post.

    well played! But a psycho in the best way possible. This whole lot of people here are psycho’s to regular folk: love climbing, love suffering…..welcome to the looney bin that is the Velominati.  I love it!

  21. @frank

    This got me thinking during my unseasonably hot ride today in Seattle in my UnDLite – which truly did feel cool to me – is that I think regardless of the jersey, the base layer, if well designed, is always better at moving it away from the body than a jersey can be; and with two layers, you spread the moisture out more and that means it evaporates faster. Seems like it will always be better than just a jersey.

    But enough of us theorizing; in January, when I do Haleakala again, you’ll just have to join me in my attempt and then we’ll see which one of us is the hotter, more angry man.

    Frank, did you wind up using a DeFeet base layer on your climb the other month?

    If so, did you like it, and do recall what the temps were that day?

    Now that spring has returned and my ride to the office this morning was a considerably-warm 13 C, I’m thinking more about base layer options as things warm up in the coming months. The base layers I have now are cheap and too hot to wear much past this temperature.

  22. Still snow, cold  and crappy roads in WI so getting out requires layers.  Thinking about the days when it’s gillet, jersey and arm warmers.  Can anyone compare/contrast the DeFeet wool armskins vs the woolie boolie arm warmers?  Also thinking that the UndD Wool might be a nice addition to my kit — who’s wearing it?

  23. @teleguy57 Hey teleguy, where in WI are you? Oracle and me are just north of Mke. I’ll likely put a Cogal together again this year so keep in touch.

  24. I’m in Appleton; one of my sons is in Cedarburg.  Had a great solo ride from home to his place through the Kettle Moraine last season — love that part of the state.

    I’ll watch here to see what you put together, but I’m way more than 2 months from peaking, and way too fat to climb

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