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Sportful Sottozero Base Layer Jersey


215g XL Black Long-Sleeve £90 (At time of writing discounted to £45)

The Sportful Sottozero Long sSeeve Base-layer Jersey, is designed to keep the rider comfortable when temperatures hover either side of zero centigrade. With some neat and functional additions to the general base-layer, it offers more than warmth. Aimed mainly at the sports enthusiast and competitor, it is also suitable for touring and general riding, especially as you’ll get away with it as a casual top when away from the bike.


Pros: well-made, light, effective, bargain at the current discount.


Cons: qualities come at a price.

test review thermal base layer cycling bike
test review themal winte cycling base layer jersey

Spec and materials

Combining polyester and wool is a proven cold weather formula. In this case, wool constitutes just 8%, beaten by Elastane at 10%, and 82% Polyester. Snug fitting greens may not flatter those of us who over-indulged over Christmas, or just over-indulge. Above left, as it should look; right, shame on you, Steve! However, we are talking effectiveness and function, rather than cat-walk, and this spec offers both. The cat-walk, Sportful cannot guarantee.


From the top. The neck is high and can be rolled down. Unlike one or two it is not high or stretchy enough to double up as a buff. Frankly, if I needed a buff, I’d personally prefer a separate one, in case things warm up.

Underarm mesh and a similar waist band – which will be under your longs or bib-tights – aid wicking. The waist-band has a narrow gripper-strip holding things in place. The cuffs don’t but are designed to make a very snug fit. The sleeves are plenty long enough to maintain a good seal when stretching down onto the drops. Internal seams are neatly finished and it is unlikely you will feel their presence. I haven’t.


Sotto zero translates as below zero, in this case Centigrade. The manufacturer’s spec state 0C upward, but as part of a system, such as with the Sportful Total Comfort Jacket I have found that it goes well below that.

Size and fit 4/5

The fit is snug, as you’d expect of a sporty base-layer by a brand named Sportful. Few people want a saggy base-layer, so this is very much the norm. The high collar might feel a little tight at first, but, far from strangling you, it keeps out the cold very effectively. Added to that, the neck of a tourer may well be a little more stouter than the neck of a speedster. Length in arm and body is suitably generous. 


The sizing guide seems pretty much spot on.

tst reviw wnter ermal cycling base layer jersey sportful
test review sportful thermal winter base layer
themal winter cycling base layer sportful test review

Care and durability 4/5

Wash at 30C, and line dry in the shade. Avoid bleach and softeners, and do not tumble dry or dry clean. Normal stuff for garments of this type. After a normal wash cycle it’ll dry in about an hour on a breezy, bright day; expect three tom four hours on a clothes horse in a moderately warm room.

Performance 5/5

At -5C, under the Sportful Total Comfort Jacket and the Castelli Reflex Commute Jacket, felt perfectly comfortable. Perhaps combining the Sportful pair was extra effective. However, whist things did not feel quite son comfy when I substituted the Stolen Goat Orkaan Everday Jersey as the mid-layer, it was still a pretty good team.


With the temperature just above 0C things felt good under both combinations. On warmer mornings, say 7-9C, on the morning commute, I’ve used it alone under the Castelli Commuter Reflex Jacket or the Proviz 360 Jacket.


Inevitably one will work up a sweat when pushing hard for speed or climbing long or steep hills. There’ll be some Dampness, but this will soon disperse. I found no significant chill, beyond the expected, on descents at around 30 mph. The underarm and waist mesh helps here. My go to Gore Wear base-layer is now having a deserved rest and may soon be reserved for cooler spring and autumn days as opposed to winter.


Off the bike, there’s been no side-ways looks when entering the oft-frequented post ride pub. Some have suggested the ‘S’ might stand for “stupid”, but that is purely a personal thing. Even Mrs Steve says that it is as good off the bike as the Tucano Urbano Nord Base-Layer Top. On that note, the Tucano Urbano is aimed at the leisure-utility-commuter cyclist and is warm, but does not wick as effectively as you more technical models.

Value 3.5/5

Discounted to £45 Is excellent value, but there’ll be some who’ll blanch at the full RRP. However, the Sottozero is very well-made, and the mesh and neck are excellent features. It is a highly effective bit of technical gear and for those participating in winter cycling when the mercury plummets those features make a lot of difference – not to mention the excellent wicking.


The Galibier Barrier is significantly cheaper, although is made from purely man-made fabrics. The Rapha Pro Team Thermal uses Power Grid Fleece to capture air – similar to old-fashioned layering: or for really cold weather, their Deep winter Base-Layer. Meanwhile, the MegaMeister Dynamo Turtle Neck Base-Layer has a similar spec, I a similar price range to the Sottozero.


Castelli offer the Flanders Warm Jersey at a similar price and with similar features, as well as a promise to be effective at similar temperatures. Of course, long-sleeve base-layers can be bought much more cheaply, but they are unlikely to be anywhere near as breathable.


Merino and merino blend base-layers can be very effective in colder weather and the wool element should maintain warmth even when damp. However, the description “merino” and “merino blend” can mean very different things.


I have found the Sportful Sottozero Long Sleeve Base-Layer to be highly effective as part of a layered system at sub-zero temperatures and comfortable on warmer days, too. Given the price – unless discounted – it is really one for the faster rider looking for highly effective technical gear to help them push the limits. However, it will certainly come with me in the pannier when the opportunity for touring comes along in the chillier UK months.

Verdict 4/5 Excellent performance, at a price.


Steve Dyster




Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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