Fairly loose-fitting, supremely comfortable tops, the Finisterre Bora & Vela Bamboo base layers are versatile enough to wear all year round in a range of outdoor scenarios, from hill walking in the colder months to summer camping escapades.
Thermal performance drops when wet
No thumb hoops
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So, what are the Finisterre Bora & Vela Bamboo base layers all about? Born and bred on the coast of Cornwall, with one foot forever in the Atlantic, Finisterre has always been an environmentally conscious company. To this end, in 2020 the brand supplemented their range of merino underwear with several base layers made from bamboo. The male version is called the Bora, and the female garment goes by the name Vela.
A natural product, bamboo is both sustainable to produce and the end product will eventually biodegrade, unlike synthetic poly tops, which will outlast us all and release micro fibres into the water system and food chain every time they’re washed. In addition, vegans can of course wear bamboo garments.
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And the material performs too – it’s highly breathable, doesn’t chafe, is naturally antibacterial and pong resistant, wicks moisture away, feels lovely next to your skin, and offers decent thermal properties to keep the wearer warm. On the downside, the thermal performance drops more when it’s wet (especially when mixed with cotton) compared to both synthetics and merino, and it gets quite a bit heavier when damp.
• RRP: $61 (US) / £45 (UK)
• Gender availability: Male (Bora) / Female (Vela)
• Materials: Bamboo (68%), organic cotton (28%) and elastane (4%)
• Weight: 232g / 8.2oz
• Sizes: S–XXL
• Colors: Men’s: Navy & Olive / Deep Blue & Red Clay / Grey / Navy Women’s: Basil Green / Lapis Blue / Kingfisher Blue
• Compatibility: Hiking, biking, trail running, climbing
In the field
We wore this top on multiple trail-running outings on chilly winter mornings, and hill-hiking and walking escapades in slightly warmer conditions. It performed well in both scenarios, although it is better suited to trekking trails than running them.
This is a very comfortable top, with ergonomic flat-locked seams. By design it is looser fitting than many of the other base layers we tested out, which some people will prefer, because it offers plenty of freedom of movement during activities. Others might like a tighter fit, to cut down on material flapping around, and because the warmth levels tend to be a bit higher.
We think thumbhoops would have been a good addition, to stop the sleeves riding up when you pull on a mid or outerlayer. As a long-sleeved top for camping in the warmers seasons, the Bora and the Vela are pretty much perfect. The tops are also available in a short-sleeve version.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.