So what is SKINS Carbonyte… For those of us who don’t know (and that was me until a few weeks ago), Carbonyte is a ‘new and unique all-weather functional base layer’.
And what does that actually mean, well the name Carbonyte has been derived from the Carbon thread that’s woven into the ventilation panels at various points where perspiration is at it highest around the body.
The Carbon has been strategically placed there because of the thread's properties, which are said to reduce the friction in those areas and also drive the moisture away which in-turn should stop irritation.
We road tested this product during a rugby training session, and also out on a less impactful 10km jog along North West coastline.
The SKINS Carbonyte’s fit was great, along with it's durability, but these are properties that you’d expect from a company like SKINS, who has built their brand on base layers.
The product was lightweight and adaptable during the both these training scenarios, which is important with the amount of stress and movement that can be experienced in a full contact session. High intensity impact training can often be the end of many a garment, resulting in rips and splitting to any number of seams, but the SKINS product held strong.
This new Carbonyte technology has been branded alongside a video from Bath Rugby, so you’d imagine it would have evolved to take this sort of punishment in it’s stride.
It is a very hard balancing act - to mix a lightweight breathable fabric, with one that can survive the kind of dynamic and damaging training sessions that rugby can inflict on clothing, but one that this SKINS product seemed more than capable of.
These types of bespoke products can often fall under the ‘niche’ category, which I don’t disagree with. So what of the USP, the Carbon in the fabric. Well it's surrounded with all the right buzzwords, but for me it comes down to winning the little battles, fundamentally if the garment keeps you cool in the heat, gives warmth when its cold and provides a breathable, comfortable fabric then it's fundamentally on the right track.
But it’s these fine margins as you approach the elite level of any sport, which can give you the edge (which couldn't be demonstrated better than by Dave Brailsford in the London Olympics).
The price retailing at around £40.00 isn’t cheap, but it boils down to whether you feel the addition of a frictionless, breathable fabric is going to make you perform that little bit more or less successfully in the heat of the battle.
Overall I was impressed with the SKINS Carbonyte’s staying power during the most strenuous strength exercises, but also it’s durability to work when the training changed to a more low impact-high agility environment. Any base layer product needs to be comfortable, breathable and most of all functional, to fit the role of the conditions you’re training in, whether that being the relatively warm summers or the freezing cold winter months and the Carbonyte certainly did that.
The Carbonyte product passes the pre-season summer test for me…and it’s only a matter of time before it’ll be put through its' paces on those frosty December mornings.