Finisterre Vela / Bora Bamboo base layer review: soft, comfy and good value... but not for hot weather

The Finisterre Bora (for men) and Vela (for women) base layers are designed as a high-performing, vegan-friendly alternative to Merino wool. Here's our review

Woman wearing Finisterre Vela Bamboo T shirt with rugged coast in the background
(Image credit: Finisterre)
T3 Verdict

The Finisterre Bora and Vela base layers use a blend of bamboo and organic cotton that's super comfy and flexible, and thick enough to wear as a regular T-shirt. They're not quite as breathable as others we've tried, but for cooler weather, they represent great value for money.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Soft, stretchy and comfy

  • +

    Vegan-friendly, sustainable fabric

  • +

    Good quality for the price

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    A bit thick for hot weather

  • -

    Some colours shows sweat very clearly

  • -

    On the short side

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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.

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.

Man wearing Finisterre Bora Bamboo base layer

(Image credit: Finisterre)

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. 

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).