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Pat Kinsella

Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight Long Sleeve base layer review: the cozy warmth of recycled fibers

Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight Long Sleeve base layer.

Meet the reviewer

Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight: first impressions

The first thing I noticed about the Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight long-sleeved top was the lovely smooth feel of the fabric – which is quite an achievement when you consider that it’s almost 10% wood. Some synthetic base layers have a very plasticky texture, and crackle with static when you put them on. Not, though, this garment from American brand Saxx, which specializes in producing comfortable, functional and technically advanced men’s underwear for use during active pursuits, including adventure sports and outdoor shenanigans.


• List price: $75 (US) / £65 (UK)
• Materials: Recycled polyester (87%), Tencel lyocell (9%) & elastane (4%)
• Sizes: S-XXL
• Weight: Men’s large: 221g / 8oz
• Colors:
Black / Dark Brick / Twilight / Get Out Camo
• Compatibility: Hiking, trekking, backpacking, mountaineering, trail running, snow sports and camping 

A midweight base layer, the versatile Roast Master long-sleeved top is part of Saxx’s base layer range, designed for cool-weather use by hikers, bikers, runners, skiers, boarders, paddlers, climbers and campers. The material mix includes recycled synthetics and Tencel lyocell, an eco-friendly fabric where the fiber content is derived from sustainable wood. A small amount of elastane is also used, to provide some stretch and ensure the top won’t inhibit your movements on the hillsides, mountaintops, wild water, snowy slopes or rocky crags. 

At least, that’s what the brand say. I’ve been field-testing the Roast Master long-sleeved top while doing a range of outdoor pursuits over the last six months to see how it performs compared to the best base layers on the market.

Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight: on the trails and in the hills

The Saxx Roast Master Mid-Weight Long Sleeve base layer looks so good front and back you may even be tempted to wear it as an outer layer (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve been wearing the Roast Master while out and about on hill walks, day treks, trail running, paddling and climbing adventures in a range of fall, winter and spring conditions. Typically I’ve been wearing it beneath a fleece and/or a waterproof jacket, and occasionally – when the sun was out, or while I was doing something a bit more energetic, like running – I’ve worn it as an outer layer, revelling in the funkiness of the ‘Get Out Camo’ color and pattern on the version I’ve been testing (which resembles ripples on moonlit water).

As I expected I would from the smooth texture of the fabric, I found the Roast Master extremely comfortable to wear right from the outset. It has a lovely next-to-skin feel, and the flat seams are virtually undetectable during use, so you can wear it for long periods of time during active use with no problems whatsoever. However, while I never felt my movement was impacted or restricted by the top, the degree of stretch is not as pronounced as in some base layers I’ve tested.

The flat seams are near undetectable against your skin, even over long periods of wear (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Also, despite Saxx saying it’s a slim fit garment, I found the Roast Master to be slightly over-generously sized. Bagginess is not something everyone wants in a base layer, and a loose fit can impact how warm an undergarment feels (with air not getting properly trapped between the top and the wearer’s body). Suffice to say, if you generally prefer a body-clinging base layer, choose a size smaller than you usually would. I’m 6ft 1in / 186cm and normally take a large, which is the size I tested, but I think the medium would have performed better.

During energetic activities such as hill clambering and trail running, the material proved itself to be adequately breathable, and it wicked moisture away from my skin well. Being synthetic, it continues to work and provide thermal protection even when you get it damp, and the fabric also dries extremely quickly, so these are all big ticks.

Saxx have a generous definition of ‘slim fit’, so if you like a tight-fitting base layer buy the size one down from your usual (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Saxx say this garment has been treated with an anti-odor product to stop it stinking up after repeated use (as synthetic tops are prone to do, unlike merino and bamboo-based clothes), but only time will tell if this works – I’ll report back if people start avoiding me. Like all synthetic clothing, though, I do confidently expect this top to be robust and long lasting.

My main criticism of the Roast Master long-sleeved top is the lack of thumb loops or hoops, which means the sleeves can and do roll up when I pull another layer on. Thumb hoops are such a simple feature to include – and they also allow you to ensure there’s never any exposed skin when you’re wearing winter gloves – it amazes me when brands don’t include them on their base layer tops. Sort it out Saxx.

The Roast Master is ideal for a broad range of outdoor activities (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
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