Spring turns up with her usual false promise, luring us into golden beach days and coat-less walks before turning sharply and sinking from view. Greyness and rain close back in, summer clothes left dangling on newly-retrieved hangers and cosy socks pulled back on. I balance mid-pendulum, training for a hilly half marathon along hot, sunny tracks and biting morning roads, clad in soft merino that, surprisingly, does the trick regardless.
I’ve been gifted the Artilect Flatiron 185 Crew in Sea Spray / Ash, a long-sleeved baselayer in a subtle sea green that aptly fits the soft renewal of spring. Global brand Artilect may be new, but it’s backed by masses of experience in the outdoors and has sustainability at its heart. Artilect’s pledge is that it makes products to last – and, judging by the amount of wash cycles my Flatiron has spun its way through without losing a smidge of its shape, tactility or colour, I’m hopeful it’s no hollow promise.
The science bit
Named after the landmark Flatirons rock formation in Boulder, Colorado, this long-sleeved crew neck is designed for warmth and unparalleled dependability. Made with Australian merino wool, it uses Nuyarn spinning technology, which outperforms synthetics, and claims to offer unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio. It also dries five times faster than other fabrics, which is handy in view of all that washing. Its flatlock seams mean there is absolutely zero chafing and it is sooo stretchy, with no pulling at all around my tummy and no rucking under my running belt. It’s also a lovely fit, with just the right length/width ratio. I favour baselayers and tees that are slightly on the long side, which usually means going up a size (translation: baggy). But the Flatiron is flatteringly slim, whilst sitting comfortably below my hips, not on them.
Artilect says its clothes are for skiing, snowboarding, cycling, hiking and running. I’m unashamedly a fairweather cyclist and there’s a striking absence of snow in south Wales this year, so that leaves the walking and running bits. I clock up some miles going round and round my local parkrun and stretch my legs along quiet tarmac trails. I hike a wonderfully people-free loop around the verdurous Vale of Glamorgan and I huff my way up through newly-felled forestry on a 12-mile run from the Valleys to Cardiff. Finally, I arrive on the starting line of the hilly half. Today’s sun is bright but there’s a nip in the air and I don’t envy the proper runners in their vests and shorts. We’re off and heading uphill within a few hundred metres, but the Flatiron plays its part perfectly, keeping in the warmth without trapping the sweat.
At £90, this baselayer certainly isn’t a budget option – particularly when household incomes are being so horribly, tangibly squeezed. But most runners I know spend near that amount on a decent pair of trainers, and it’s considerably less than many hikers pay for the right boots. We do so gladly, in the knowledge that footwear is a lasting investment designed to keep us safe, comfortable and pain-free for many, many months. Applying the same logic to my layers, I suspect I’ll be notching up miles in the legs – and merino-clad arms – in the Flatiron for many winters and false springs to come.
My Artilect Flatiron Baselayer was kindly gifted. It costs £90 and is available in a range of colours. Follow Artilect on Instagram and Facebook, where you can join its raffle to raise funds for urgent humanitarian aid in Ukraine, and by searching for the hashtag #AliveInTheWorld.