Through the coldest winter months, we’ve put the Italian designed and made Cascada merino baselayer to the test.
This isn’t our first time reviewing kit from small Italian adventure brand Cascada.cc, as we tested out some of their summer range last year including their beautifully designed wool shirts, tech tees, socks and cap.
When Cascada got in touch to ask us to try out their new winter merino baselayers, we were more than happy to oblige. We love their ethos of multi-use products: versatile clothing that’s just as happy on the trails as it is on a hike or trail run.
First impressions with the new baselayers were great too, as Cascada have upgraded their packaging to recyclable paper-based bags since our last test which we were very pleased to see.
The Cascada merino baselayer has been on test throughout January through a range of winter conditions from chilly sub-zero gravel rides to warmer spring-like mountain bike rides, wearing as an everyday top and as a hiking baselayer too. With both a long sleeve and short sleeve model available on test, I gave the short sleeve baselayer to ADVNTR contributor James Stockhausen for a second, alternate opinion on the unisex fit.
Cascada’s merino baselayers are actually made from a merino blend, with 45% merino, 40% polyester, 10% polyamide and 5% elastane.
Why this blend? By combining the soft and naturally odour-resistant ultrafine merino wool fibres with polyester, the resulting material tends to last longer and be better at wicking away moisture and drying, too. By adding in elastane, the material has a more stretchy quality, which is perfect for baselayers that you want to sit close to the skin and be figure-hugging.
So, does this theory stand up in practice? I’ve been really impressed by the long-sleeve baselayer on test, which has been a warm and fantastic wicking layer too through a many different conditions, from sub-zero deep winter rides to acting as an outer layer on more balmy, spring-like rides.
Sweat patches simply weren’t a thing, which was a delight, especially for light-coloured top.
Fit and sizing
The stretchy elastane make up of the merino blend means that the fit of the baselayer is certainly figure-hugging, and adapts to fit your shape without being restrictive. As James put it, the baselayer ‘fits like a glove’.
I had a unisex size small/medium on test (XS and L/XL also available), which felt about right. I noticed that the baselayer is very long in the torso, which was fine tucked into MTB or hiking trousers, but might be a bit troublesome if you have a short torso and are pairing with bib tights.
I really loved the neckline on the baselayer: a high crew neck that works well with a buff or Cascada’s own merino neck warmer. The flatlock seams linking the sleeves are comfortable against the skin to the point of being unnoticeable.
Lastly, a slightly different construction on the upper sleeves and down the sides keeps them from becoming baggy and helps accommodate different shapes and sizes. The lower sleeves were a little baggier, so I wondered whether I might benefit from the smaller XS size.
As those who are familiar with the wonder material of merino will know, the antimicrobial properties of the fabric means that you can wear these for multiple days before needing to wash them, which not only makes them ideal for multi-day adventures, but also helps reduce wear from washing and the environmental demand on frequent laundry cycles.
Putting this claim to the test, I wore the baselayer for up to four days on the trot, only really noticing any stench after 2-3 uses. As well as all the benefits mentioned above, this also means that you can keep active outside for more days in the winter without needing many different clothes, which is much appreciated for minimalists like me and I’m sure people on a budget.
James found that he could wear the merino baselayer for up to a week before it needed a wash!
Even after a number of washes (at 30 degrees and line drying, as recommended), the baselayer hasn’t shrunk at all (as you might find with some 100% merino items) and is still looking as good as new, even after getting filthy mountain biking!
The long sleeve baselayer is available in this greyish/greenish/blue (different colours in different lights, I swear) and also in a deeper burgundy marl. The short sleeve comes in a peachy salmon colour, which James has been a big fan ofYou.
The Cascada logo across the chest in black is bold, although I admit for most of the winter this was hidden away under outer layers. Having said this, the material is opaque enough that I could also wear it as an outer layer on warmer days when working hard without feeling too exposed, unlike some lighter weight baselayers.
The only other detail is a small sewn on label on the bottom of the rear, which I usually had tucked in anyway on colder days.
Cascada winter accessories
Along with the baselayers, Cascada were generous to send us a range of their merino accessories to try out too, as well as these gorgeous pin badges. We love their style!
The seamless elastic headband (€18) has been a great asset on chillier rides, keeping the ears cosy but without causing additional bulk under an already close-fitting helmet. When you warm up enough, it can easily be whipped off and stuffed in a pocket, as it rolls down really small.
If you read my review of the summer kit, you’ll know that I was a massive fan of Cascada’s socks, with cleverly reinforced heels and toes for longevity and a high fit on the leg that doesn’t shrink over time. Their winter merino cross socks (€25) are very similar, only with a thicker, merino blend for winter warmth, which I’ve worn for multiple days in a row and have held up really well. It might seem like a lot to spend on a pair of socks, but I’d happily pay this for proper quality socks that won’t just shrink and fall apart after one hard season.
Finally, the merino neck warmer (€35) is a soft and super warm addition for the coldest of rides (which has handily also doubled up as a face covering)! The flatlock seams prevent any irritation on the neck and the wide base fits down well next to the shoulders to prevent any drafts down the collar chilling you.
The Cascada merino baselayer verdict
Both James and I have been really impressed with both the fit and the quality of the Cascada merino baselayers. They’re everything that you could wish for; warm, wicking, quick drying, durable and antimicrobial, combined with some really gorgeous colourways (aka not black) and design. The fit is a triumph and I can confidently say that with the elastane stretch, these are truly a unisex fit.
Alongside the excellent baselayers, Cascada have developed some really ace merino blend accessories too that are just as versatile, for use on the commute, on longer wintery rides, hikes or runs. The socks are still a real winner in my book!
Priced at €85 for the long sleeve and €70 for the short sleeve, these certainly aren’t cheap, but for such a great technical piece of equipment that’ll not only see you through one winter but hopefully many, I feel like it’s certainly a sound investment worth making. If you fancy one of each, you can save 20% by opting for the bundle on their site for €124.
Last modified: 2nd February 2021