Finisterre is the sort of company that should immediately appeal to all SUPers and surfers. They are based in Cornwall and produce quality technical clothing designed for watermen/women. Not only that, they also have set up their company with sound ecological and sustainable ethics. No dodgy third world sweat shop products from this company.
One of the newer products which really interested us at Stand Up Paddle Surfing UK was the Base Layer. I have been an active outdoors person for a while and although merino wool base layers are fairly common amongst military and mountaineering types, the use of one for as rash vest caught me by surprise and I thought that I must try it out.
A quick email to Ernie at Finisterre and the base layer was dispatched; it arrived promptly the next day in 100% recycled packaging, these guys live by their ethos.
Now I am one of those people who find wool products itchy, so I was wondering how I would find the Finisterre Base Layer, firstly it looks, and feels, like very high quality cotton, not wool. During the cold snap in April I wore it as a traditional base layer, under a fleece and Gore-Tex jacket. We had several really cold days, and some snow and I had to be out and about in the bad weather. It worked really well, kept me nice and warm, but I did not overheat during exercise. Apologies for this next bit, but unlike some of the other synthetic base layers I own this one did not start to get smelly, as the others all tend to do. That’s the beauty of a natural fabric.
I was slightly loathed to take such a nice garment and put it on under a wetsuit, having seen the state of some of my lycra rash vests, but I gave it a go. The first session was a long down wind paddle on the SUP board, in sunny weather. I was worried that I might get too hot, but the merino wool worked its magic and I did not overheat. I did not get very wet on this session so I rinsed the base layer out in luke warm water and dried it overnight. I was impressed that, unlike some wool garments I have owned, it did not lose any shape or get baggy. The next session was a cold stand up paddle surf session in junky small waves, with a strong cross wind. I spent alot of time in the water and the base layer got a good soaking. I had just switched suits to my spring 4/3mm so I was expecting to get a little cold. My session lasted two hours and I came in because the tide had got too high, not because I got cold, so the base layer performed very well. Once again I rinsed the base layer in luke warm water and hung it out to dry and it has still retained shape.
I would recommend the Finisterre Base layer to stand up paddlers who want to keep warm and comfortable. As either a rash vest or a traditional base layer under a fleece it works really well and keeps you at a comfortable temperature, not too hot and not too cold. The only thing it lacks, that traditional lycra rash vests have, is a long neck to prevent wetsuit rash, but with a decent wetsuit this should not be a problem. The Finisterre Base Layer costs £25 and is available from http://www.finisterreuk.com.