Review: Leeuw Merino Premium Base Layer

The homegrown Leeuw Premium Base Layer is a close-fitting vest designed to keep you comfortable through the seasons.

Made from pure Nuyarn Merino with just a touch of nylon, this high-value piece from Leeuw offers a silky soft feel, with excellent breathability and pong busting abilities.

The Leeuw Merino Premium Base Layer vest as reviewed for Erik Kleinhans by Myles Kelsey and photographed in Cape Town by Gary Perkin
Based in Stellenbosch, Leeuw is a South African brand with local production.


What’s to love? Erik Kleinhans and the team at Leeuw opted for a very fine 17.5-micron fiber for this garment. By comparison, that is about a quarter the width of human hair. This ultra-fine fiber is known for its high warmth-to-weight ratio, lightweight feel and excellent breathability. This Leeuw Premium Base Vest is a performance-orientated garment with a slim fit but owed to the Nuyarn Merino, the feel is light, not tight.

What’s the deal with Nuyarn Merino? Merino is a 100% natural, renewable, biodegradable and sustainable fiber. Its breathable nature helps regulate heat and moisture flow to and from your body thereby protecting your body’s micro-climate when conditions change. Often referred to as the next generation of Merino, Nuyarn Merino goes through a mechanical process — as opposed to a chemical one — to unlock and amplify the fiber’s full potential. As a result, Nuyarn Merino is incredibly soft on the skin, has excellent non-itch properties, resists odors, is machine washable and dries very quickly.


The Leeuw Merino Premium Base Layer vest as reviewed for Erik Kleinhans by Myles Kelsey and photographed in Cape Town by Gary Perkin

Leeuw Premium Base Layer

MATERIAL: 125gsm Nuyarn Merino, 17.5 micron
MAKE UP: 88% Merino, 12% Nylon
FIT: Slim fit
WEIGHT: 100g (size M)
SEAMS: Flatlock 
RETAIL: R899 less 15% with discount code: bikenetwork15
SHOP: Leeuw

Comfort and Function

The range: Leeuw has a total of three base layers in their current range; Winter, Summer and Premium which are all locally made from Nuyarn Merino. The Winter Base has 130 grams per square meter, the Summer Base has 95gsm and this Premium Base I tested has 125gsm.

How warm is it? Now, because rides differ in intensity and riders experience heat differently with some sweating more than others, I’d say the ideal temperature range for the Premium Base is between about 8 to 22 degrees. If there is a chilly wind forecast, pair it with a Gillet and you will be cozy. That’s what worked for me and that’s with one layer over the base and riding tempo style. If you are riding in conditions colder than that you might want to add a layer or go for the Winter version. Conversely, the Summer Base is ideal for high-temperature outings.

Does the performance match the good looks? Yes, and here’s why: the flatlock stitching and tag-less finish complement the silky-soft feel of the Nuyarn Merino giving next-level comfort. With the location of the shoulder seams, you will not experience any chaffing. It is worn on-the-skin and I experienced no prickly skin irritations which I have had with a few other base garments. The relaxed fit of the collar helps extract excess heat. Following the instructions on the Leeuw website, it has had a few machine washes and shows no signs of aging. The ability to regulate body temperature through wide ranges of temperature and training efforts is what Merino Wool and this base vest do very well. It also lets the stink go and dries quicker than you can smash a Macchiato.


The Leeuw Premium Base Layer will suit anyone seeking a fast-and-light all-condition base. The ultra-lightweight build, breathable Nuyarn Merino and slim fit make it ideal for tempo training and racing.

The Leeuw Merino Premium Base Layer vest as reviewed for Erik Kleinhans by Myles Kelsey and photographed in Cape Town by Gary Perkin

| IMAGES: Gary Perkin |

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *
Name *
Email *