It's refreshing to see a company finally raise the humble baselayer from obscurity, hiding as it normally does underneath outer layers with little thought given to how it looks. Helly Hansen have taken the Warm Ice Crew and given it a thorough makeover, offering it in ten colours and patterns to give it more visual appeal. The inner face of the 2-layer fabric is Helly's well known and proven Lifa polyester, while the outer is merino wool.
In theory this combination should provide all the wicking properties of the Lifa fabric, drawing moisture away from the skin and reducing the clammy feel you can often get with straight merino wool when it becomes saturated with sweat. The merino outer layer draws that moisture further out and retains heat even when damp.
In practice we found it a superbly warm and cosy base layer, with the thick fabric providing plenty of insulation for cold rides under windproof layers, and milder spring and autumn outings under a thin jersey. True to form it hasn't suffered from that clammy feel merino layers can be susceptible to, and every ride has felt comfortable and dry. And that is pretty much all you can ask of a baselayer.
The fit is close without being oppressively so, and flatlocked stitching has never irritated no matter how long a day we have had.
Finally, without fail the Helly drew complimentary comments wherever it went, so it seems Helly is onto something with the Warm Ice Crew. With high performance, decent price and good looks it certainly ticked all our normal baselayer boxes and even added a few more.