The Finisterre Bora (for men) and Vela (for women) short sleeve base layers are made using a bamboo and organic cotton blend fabric that's new to the Finisterre range for 2021. The fabric is a vegan-friendly alternative to the Merino wool that you find in many of the best base layers, and Finisterre promises it's equally high-performing, as well as retaining its shape well and being naturally breathable.
At RRP both the Bora and the Vela are £35, which puts them in the mid-range bracket (although there's typically a deal on that gets you £10 off if you buy two). So are these Ts good value for money, and how does this new fabric hold up in practice? I put the Vela through its paces on an active camping trip to find out. Read on for my full Finisterre Vela base layer review.
While you're here, you might want to also check out our guides to the best fleece jackets and the best waterproof jackets, to layer up with. For snow sport-specific layers, head to our best ski base layers guide.
- Buy Women's Vela Bamboo Short Sleeve Top from Finisterre, RRP £35
- Buy Men's Bora Short Sleeve Bamboo Base Layer from Finisterre, RRP £35
Finisterre Vela / Bora Bamboo base layer review: performance and fit
Both the Bora and Vela base layers use a blend of organic cotton and bamboo (68% bamboo viscose, 28% cotton, 4% elastane, to be precise) that's designed to be naturally breathable, temperature regulating, antibacterial and moisture wicking. Finisterre says it'll hold its shape better than other bamboo fabrics, as well as being a high-performing sheep-free alternative to Merino wool, for vegan adventurers.
It is, however, thicker than your average base layer. While that does mean you can wear it as a T-shirt on its own with no fear of it going see-through, even when drenched with rain or sweat, it's a bit hot to wear in warm weather. And on the subject of sweat, the blue version I tested really does show it up with glaring clarity (so less a subtle shadow, more your companions trying to figure out if it's an actual pattern or not). You can decide if that bothers you or not. I'd also say that it's not as breathable, and slower to dry than other base layers I've tested.
In short, I wouldn't pick the Vela / Bora for hot weather hikes. That's not to say you should discount it entirely; I found the Vela extremely comfy to wear. It's very stretchy and soft against the skin, and feels and looks high quality, with vibrant colours and secure seams. In cooler weather it'd be a great choice.
In terms of shape, you've got flat-locked seams for extra comfort and no danger of chafing, and a close fit that makes this T-shirt easy to layer on top of, with no bunching. For me personally, I found it came up shorter than I like (I'm 5'8") – I prefer a longer body line.
Finisterre Vela / Bora Bamboo base layer review: verdict
The Finisterre Vela / Bora Bamboo base layers look and feel pricier than they are, and deliver excellent comfort and a great, snug fit. The bamboo / cotton fabric is, however, a little on the thick and warm side, which means you might want to pick something different in hot weather. For cooler months, though, these base layers would make a great addition to any adventurer's wardrobe.