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Reviewed: Capo Torino SL base layer

Pros: Driest base layer we’ve tested
Cons: Pricing reflects its superiority

For years, clothing manufacturers have pushed “summer base layers” on us, claiming quick drying and lofty performance expectations. We do our best to ride them in the hottest conditions we can, and even in the arid climate of Colorado; every base layer is a sopping mess of artificial fibers at the end of a ride.

Recently at the Gateway Cup criteriums in St. Louis, I put another pair of base layers to the test in the heat and high humidity of the Midwest. Both were from Capo cycling, dubbed the Torino 3D and Torino SL.

The 3D is the more complicated of the two, utilizing multiple patterns, with mesh patches in strategic locations. The SL is all mesh. Both are intended for year-round use and are designed around moving as much moisture off the skin as possible.

Though they differ in weave and fabric thickness, both the SL and 3D are made from the same material, one piece of tubular fabric that Capo calls Dryarn. Both come in one size that Capo claims will fit anyone who normally wears anything between an XS woman to a 2XL man. The 3D is available in long- and short-sleeved versions, while the SL comes with short, long, or no sleeves.

I wore the Torino 3D on day 1 and the Torino SL on 2 two while racing Gateway. Temperatures were similar, in the mid-90’s with a hot sun and high humidity, though day 1 was slightly warmer. But most importantly, the humidity levels were nearly identical.

The “holy cow” moment was post-race on day 2, while wearing the meshy Torino SL, when I took off my soaking wet jersey and realized my base layer was bone-dry. I had never been so comfortable in a base layer in such heat and humidity. The only base layer I’ve tested that holds a candle to the Torino SL is the lightweight sleeveless base layer from Gore — and even that doesn’t quite reach the same level of moisture management.

Of course, with most products that have thoroughly impressed us in recent years, the Capo Torino SL and 3D base layers are some of the more expensive lightweight base layers on the market. The super-airy Torino SL with short sleeves costs $80 and the Torino 3D comes in at $90. The Torino is still less expensive than lightweight offerings from Assos and Santini and is right on the same mark as Rapha’s Pro Team base layer, which sports a very similar mesh design.

So if you can get past the $80 price tag and build the confidence to rock this base layer — despite it looking like something Chris Kattan would have worn in A Night at the Roxbury — you’ll be impressed if not a bit shocked at how dry it keeps you. It’s one of the best summer layers around, and the benefits of a dry core shouldn’t be discounted with a cold winter approaching, either.