With winter well and truly here and the risk of frostbitten nipples greatly enhanced, I realised it was time to update my base layer. At this stage I must confess that rugby is my No. 1 sport of choice, but as a part-time footballer I'm fully aware of the benefits of comfortable kit.
The rugby link has obviously seen me favour oval-ball favourites Canterbury for my attire in the past, but after six seasons sporting their base layer through thick and thin (snow), I was ready for a change. Having always steadfastly stood by the rugby-specific brands, it was with some reluctance that I agreed to try the Nike Hyperwarm Pro Combat base layer; however I'm glad I did.
The first thing that I noticed when putting on the base layer is the length. The bottom of the body comes down to below the waist - about halfway down the buttocks - meaning you can pull your shorts/bottoms over the top of it and then tuck your shirt in, should you wish to. The second thing I noticed was how tight it was around the forearm. As much as I would love to brag about my forearms, they are not my most muscular feature and those big forearmed of you may find the tightness a tad uncomfortable, although this does give way with a few wears.
The Nike baselayer has a high neck line, which I liked because it kept the icy winds of winter away from my sparsely-haired chest. Playing rugby, there is a risk it may bring some discomfort in compromising positions, but they are uncomfortable positions anyway - it is fine for football.
Aesthetics and comfort aside, it was time to test it in a playing situation. In arctic conditions, I took to the pitch with just a t-shirt over the top of the base layer and I certainly wasn't cold; quite the opposite. Throughout the training session the layer kept me hot while active but still contentedly warm while static. The length of the torso fabric paid dividends as it kept the base layer in position and ensured that I remained warm and insulated for the duration of the game. At the end of training, I was also able to remove the base layer on my own, rather than asking a muddy, naked team-mate to peel it off my frame; certainly a positive in my book. And after a wash, the top maintained its shape and elasticity.
In conclusion, Nike have clearly done their homework and this top will definitely keep you warm in the coldest of weather. It also fits well and stays in place during the most unyielding of physical stresses to help enhance performance.
The Nike Pro Combat Base Layer is available to buy for £36.