Ask Tug: Should I Wear A Wicking Undershirt Underneath A Motorcycle Jacket?

guy-wearing-motorcycle-gearFrom one motorcycle lover to another, I’m really happy this reader wrote in with this question about whether or not it would make sense to wear a wicking undershirt under a his motorcycle jacket.

As a frequent rider myself living in the beautiful state of California, Mrs. Tug and I get the opportunity to experience extreme temperature changes during a single ride and wearing the right clothing is really important. Not too long ago we took a 7+ hour motorcycle ride during a weekend getaway to Southern California. We started out at around 5am with many layers of clothing, still freezing, and a few short hours later we were burning up at temperatures exceeding 95 degrees.

Depending on the ride and the weather conditions, I usually sport various undershirts as my base layer. The undershirt helps keep me cool and dry, or warm and dry – whichever I need at the time. The undershirt I wear varies as well. If it’s going to be really hot out, I’ll usually wear a thin moisture wicking undershirt. Otherwise, I typically wear a fitted cotton undershirt.

Here’s the readers question:

Hi

I would like to know if wicking shirts actually work when worn underneath a motorcycle jacket, & how does the moisture evaporate when trapped under the waterproof jacket.

Kind regards
J

My response:

hey j,

thanks for stopping by the site and emailing in your question!

as a fellow motorcyclist living in a warmer climate, comfort and temperature control is really important to me when mrs. tug and I are out riding around. in the cooler parts of the day (early morning, later evening) layering up with multiple shirts, jackets, chaps, etc. helps us calibrate what we’re wearing to the temperature at any given time. during the warmer times (like now in the summer), it’s a little tricky to find the right combination of clothes that will keep you cool and dry, while at the same time giving you the ability to wear the proper protective gear like leathers (if that’s what you like to wear).

guy-wearing-undershirt-underneath-motorcycle-jacketpersonally, I normally wear some form of lightweight undershirt as my base layer when out on the motorcycle. in the milder temperatures, I always wear cotton undershirts,  but when it’s hotter out, you’ll more often find me wearing moisture wicking undershirts.

now, depending on how you gear up, moisture wicking undershirts can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. as you inferred below, wicking undershirts are best worn when there is some airflow passing over the undershirt to help evaporate the sweat it’s transferred from your body to the outer layer of the undershirt. if there is absolutely no airflow, you’ll experience something similar to what police officers experience when wearing undershirts under their kevlar body armor — which is pretty much a soaked undershirt. if you have some airflow happening underneath your waterproof jacket, then wicking undershirts can perform rather nicely. for example, I usually wear a leather when riding, but since my jacket doesn’t fit tight, when I wear a wicking undershirt, I get enough airflow under my jacket to help sweat evaporate. when it’s really hot out and I don’t want to wear my leather, I sport a wicking undershirt under a standard t-shirt and that combination proves to work really well by keeping me cool and dry, plus there’s enough airflow to keep my t-shirt free of sweat stains.

so, wicking undershirts can perform well underneath a waterproof motorcycle jacket, but it really depends on the wicking undershirt, the motorcycle gear itself, and how everything fits you. if the gear combination allows some airflow underneath, you’ll probably stay pretty comfortable and dry. if not, depending on the weather, you might be in store for a pretty torso wetting experience. granted, if you’re looking to shed a few pounds of body water, you just might like that :)

hope the above information helps and let me know if you have any other questions.

best,
tug

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