Le Bent Base Layer and Trail Socks Review

Le Bent is an Australian outdoors/alpine apparel company that focuses on next-to-skin items comprised of their signature blend of merino wool and rayon from bamboo.  It may sound like an odd combination (it did to me anyway), but the result of the two source materials coming together is a pleasant surprise for many reasons.

Le Base 200 Lightweight Crew

This is the middle weight version (200gm2) of the Le Base top.  Le Bent also offers 160gm2 and 260gm2 versions of the same product for warmer and colder temps respectively.

Materials

Rayon from Bamboo (65.8%), Merino Wool (28.2%), and Elastane (6%)

Most traditional merino wool base layers I’ve used have had a tendency to transfer material to my skin, especially with a brand-new product and after particularly long, sweaty activities.  I did not experience any of this “shedding” with the Le Bent Le Base top; I interpreted this as a sign of a more durable material which logically should translate to a longer useful product life.  The top also does not pill after use and washing like some other merino wool products on the market.

The Le Bent signature blend of materials resulted in no noticeable chafing during my testing.  In my experience, most merino-based products will eventually chafe on longer running or skiing activities (10+ miles for me).  However, I did not experience that with the Le Bent Le Base layer – a testament to their unique product.  In the same vein, the top is not itchy as some competing merino base layers are.  This aspect is likely as personal as the chafing topic, but the use of the smoother bamboo fibers seems to make a significant difference in this area.  Additionally, Le Bent claims that even those who experience merino wool irritations find their unique blend comfortable on their skin due to no bothersome “spurs” on the bamboo.

Compared to competitors using merino wool blends, Le Bent products are superior in retaining their shape. I have other base layers that, once they are stretched, do not rebound to their original shape until after a washing cycle.  This is not the case with the Le Bent Le Base Lightweight Crew.  The bamboo rayon and elastane provide the top a 4-way stretch that comfortably clings to your skin; even when it’s pinched and pulled, it snaps back instead of hanging loose.  This is a major plus for those looking for base layers for athletic activities.  The Le Bent bamboo rayon is far superior in this regard to any synthetic base layer materials I’ve used previously as well.

Since the Le Bent Le Base is composed of wool, machine drying is not advised; dry cleaning is recommended by the manufacturer.  However, I always machine wash in cold water and line dry with great results.  I did accidentally send it through a machine dryer once while testing, though.  I was panicked as I pulled it out expecting it to be a full size smaller.  Amazingly, the Le Bent Le Base did not noticeably shrink.

Bonus: The bamboo used for the rayon is a naturally sustainable material so you can sleep well at night knowing you’re supporting a company that is conscious of its impact on the environment.

Sizing

I’m 6’1” and 170 pounds.  I typically wear a large but sized down to a medium based on the measurements provided by Le Bent on their website and knowing that I prefer a slightly more athletic fit for base layers; it was a great a fit for my body type.  I would advise you to refer to size guide as well and trust the measurements even if you traditionally buy a different size.  Some other companies’ base layers are cut so long in the body and arms so as to be an annoyance during activities, but the Le Bent top hit me right at the wrists and is just long enough in the body to be tucked in if needed – ideal for me personally.

Features

As the Le Bent Le Base is comprised of merino wool, it’s not a surprise that superior temperature control is one of its highlights.  The natural material does an unparalleled job of keeping you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm.  As with other quality base layers these days, the Le Bent Le Base top is built using flatlock stitching to reduce irritation and chafing where panels meet.  Additionally, offset shoulder panel seams help eliminate irritation from bib or pack straps.  The product also boasts full spectrum UV 50+ protection along with natural odor control and moisture-wicking properties.

Conclusion on the Le Bent Le Base Lightweight Crew

The Le Bent Le Base top is a versatile piece to add to your wardrobe.  It’s a high-performing base layer fit for any cold weather activity you can throw at it.  Due to an early winter season in the upper Midwest this year, I found myself not only wearing the Le Bent Le Base top on runs and outdoor activities but also utilizing it as a layer for everyday wear.  On cold days it pairs well with flannel shirts, lightweight sweatshirts, under an insulated jacket, or even as a standalone top in casual settings.  MSRP: $85

Le Sock Trail Light 3/4 Crew

Materials

Rayon from Bamboo (41%), Nylon (38%), Merino Wool (18%), and Elastane (3%)

The Le Sock contains the same materials as the Le Bent base layers with the addition of nylon.  As such, many of the same statements above regarding the Le Base apply to the socks: I experienced no chafing or itchiness while testing, the socks retain their shape even after hours of use and washing, and avoid the dryer if you wash them yourself instead of dry cleaning.

Sizing

The Le Bent Le Socks fit true to size.  I usually wear a US mens size 10 shoe, and these size large socks felt like they were made-to-order for my feet.  The fit is snug and molds to the shape of your foot.

Features

Once you slide your foot into the Le Bent Le Sock, you really can feel all of the features of their Definitive Fit System.  Most notable for me is how well they stay in place on the leg.  A problem seemingly since the dawn of socks, Le Bent has successfully created a sock that will not slowly creep down to your ankle even when you’re in constant motion.  The ankle band support, snug fit Y heel, and instep support combine to keep the foot of the sock comfortably tight – like it’s hugging your foot.  The impact cushion zone along the bottom of the sock is quite comfortable and noticeably cushioned, while the ghost seam along the top of the toe keeps nasty friction and blisters away.

Conclusion on the Le Bent Le Sock Trail Light 3/4 Crew

These socks are a dual threat: peak performers during high-output outdoor activities as well as offering casual comfort at home or even in the office.  I performance tested these in winter running shoes, and my feet were never chilled even on snow-packed trails when temps were below freezing.  Wearing them around the house without shoes, there are times I would need to take them off because they were so warm. My only request is more color selections in the future.  MSRP: $34.99

For more information on either of these products, please visit www.lebent.com.

Ryan Joy: Ryan is a lifelong runner and avid paddler currently living in Minnetonka, MN. He can be found enjoying the outdoors in northern MN, WI, and MI with his wife and young son whenever they get the opportunity.
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