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Merino for everyday?
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Dennis Hiorns

Locale: Michigan
Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 08:56:55 MST Print View

For various reasons I've decided to use merino base layers and I love them (tshirt, underwear and socks). Comparisons to other fabrics have been covered in other threads, but I have a different query:

Do you wear merino for everyday (i.e., going to work, exercising, etc), and if so, how does that wear differ from regular cotton? I've been told by a couple people that you're not supposed to wash merino after each use and that it should be worn several times first (Icebreaker states on their website the record is 196 days...I'm not going that far).

So, do you wear merino several days in a row? If so, how many? Do you alternate between two sets, letting them "air-out" every other day?

I have a drawer full of cotton tshirts, underwear and socks, and it would be nice to replace them with just a couple sets of merino, if possible.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 09:09:15 MST Print View

I wouldn't say I wear it every day, but I do have some pieces I wear for city life. I don't wash anything after single use , unless I've gone on a long sweaty run, or it got really dirty. When I do sweaty runs in merino tops though, I don't necessarily wash them after one run where I would with synthetics. I have some merino pieces that have been through the wash more times than I could possibly count and show no signs of wear. This includes a BPL UL Merino Hoody which is about as thin as pantyhose.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
wear on 01/17/2011 10:32:15 MST Print View

i actually only wear my merino for every day use now

i wash it every 3 days of use as long as it doesnt get soaked in sweat

as for durability ... its a lot less durable than cotton IME

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: wear on 01/17/2011 11:18:25 MST Print View

I wear only merino socks and undies.

The socks are years old and still killin

The undies... all of them have holes in the... under the business area.
I have not been able to tell if its from me tugging out wedgies from tucked in shirts, or some fungal problem;)

I have UA draws that are years older than my merino ones. They get washed every other time i wear them -tops. I will say though that they are all years old- some are probably 4 years old and I have about 10 pairs total so they get worn a lot.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 12:02:52 MST Print View

I wear Merino as much as possible and am wearing a T-shirt as we speak that can go for literally months of casual wear without washing. Not all of my merino can pull this off, however. I have noticed some difference in quality and performance between brands and even batches from the same brand. Smartwool has been the most consistent for some reason, and Patagonia the least. This may be because of the frequency that Patagonia redesigns their product lines.

Versus Cotton, I have found Merino to be slightly more durable, but I also treat it with more care than cotton. I still prefer cotton for sleeping in and times après voyage. Polyester based clothing has proven the most durable of what I own, including fleece. I have some Patagonia silk-weight T-shirts which have seen about 10 years of regular wear and still hold their own today, but need to be washed after only a day or two usually.

I do air out my merino and switch between 3 or 4 shirts regularly while saving old poly or cotton for yard work and dirty jobs, then retiring them to rags ultimately. Socks seem to wear out quicker for me, but I only wear Merino in those now and have for about the last 5 years. Sierra Trading Post is a great resource for reasonably priced Merino socks. Socks typically go only a day before I wash them. I have always used cold water to wash them - even the "dry clean only" Merino T-shirt that I am wearing now, which has probably been washed 4 times in the last 3 years, yet retains no objectionable aroma (wife confirmed) :)

b willi jones
(mrjones) - F

Locale: NZ,,, best place in the world !?
Re: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 12:06:39 MST Print View

kia ora Dennis, i have a few Icebreaker items that get frequent wear. my singlet has just had its second birthday & is goin strong. it gets worn hiking, under my work shirt & to bed if my wife doesnt notice that i still have it on. it does feel a lot thinner than a new one, but no real sign of wear i.e holes. i also have various weight short & long sleeve tops, which can go several wears before the wash, even then its only because i feel bad that they arnt clean clean. undies & socks see more washing machine action

my first Icebreaker t-shirt really got put through its paces & got 30 days continuous wear, didnt really stink too much either, as per the Icebreaker catalog. after quite some time the wear holes began, but i didnt want to chuck it. so i sewed it into my 'headwarmer' as seen in my photo. it gets constant wear, as a hat, single or double layer, neck warmer or across the nose & mouth like a balaclava. the tangerine colour has faded though


Edited by mrjones on 01/17/2011 12:11:18 MST.

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: on 01/17/2011 13:29:09 MST Print View

I have fully switched to merino socks for everyday life. Next on my list is underwear. I'd like to have all of my Hanes replaced with wool this year. What merino undies you guys rockin?

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
wool on 01/17/2011 13:40:16 MST Print View

I am wearing my Ibex Indie Hoodies in the winter with wool socks. I gave up on the underwear because it really doesn't last too long and went back to Ex Officio. It would be nice to find thin wool socks for a size 14/15 for the summer and a thin wool shirt for the summer that holds up for more than one year.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 14:52:40 MST Print View

I wear merino on just about a daily basis. Well, counting socks, a daily basis. I have worn shirts for over a month without washing (& daily smell checks by a significant other) and was fine. I probably normally wear t's & tops for... a week or two of wear? before washing. Pretty much just when I start to notice any odor or they're just obviously collecting dirt. I find the stuff extremely comfortable & versatile. I've found temperature regulation to be better than cotton, & I can wear a slightly thicker layer w/o overheating.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
merino everyday? hell yes! on 01/17/2011 15:32:52 MST Print View

I wear merino just about every day.

Merino socks almost all days- especially in the winter. I have 6 pairs of merino socks that I cycle through. I usually wear the same pair a few days in a row, though I give them a hand wash in the sink before bed with a small amount of soap from the bar. Hang 'em up on the shower curtain rod and they dry overnight. After a few wears they go in the washer and dryer with my regular cotton clothes.

More and more, I wear merino tops and bottoms. Until very recently, I didn't have any merino bottoms. Now that I have a pair of midweight merino long underwear, I've been wearing them some- warm enough and breathable enough that they don't get too warm as I move between the office, outside, the bus, and home. Performance is similar to mid-weight Power Dry long underwear, but don't need to wash them as often.

My merino tops don't fit in with my work outfits very well, though I'd love to buy a few white short sleeve merino Ts if I can get them at SAC to wear as undershirts. My universal work uniform is a short sleeve polo shirt and work pants that look close enough to work pants that look close enough to khakis that no one has complained. :P

I wear merino tops all the time on weekends. Same stuff as I wear as a base layer for hiking- I've a LS and SS black Red Ram top, First Ascent 1/4 zip midweight top, and a SS Stoic top. I use the SS Stoic as a workout shirt and undershirt- the anti-stink of merino is a great feature to have with the frequency I wash my workout clothes. :P

If I had some money to waste on underwear, I'd look long and hard to find a merino boxer brief with long legs and a fly and buy 10 pair and throw out everything else I own. Any recommendations on such a pair of merino underwear would be appreciated!

Val C
(GooseBumps) - F
Re: merino everyday? hell yes! on 01/17/2011 16:01:33 MST Print View

>If I had some money to waste on underwear, I'd look long and hard to find a merino boxer brief with long legs and a fly and buy 10 >pair and throw out everything else I own. Any recommendations on such a pair of merino underwear would be appreciated!

There's a pair of 9" boxers here:

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Re: Merino for everyday on 01/17/2011 16:02:28 MST Print View

I have an Arcteryx EON SLW merino T-shirt that I wear on casual weekends. It's a great shirt: warm, next-to-body fit, long (for tall types--so no chance of it becoming untucked), and it resists odor better than polyester or cotton T-shirts.

I would definitely wear it to the office on weekdays except for the fact that it is candy apple red, and underneath a white dress shirt it's pretty obvious. They also make the shirt in black and caper (deep forest green color), which doesn't really help either. If they made one in a neutral color or light heather gray, then I'd definitely be sporting one or two to the office.

If you're not so worried about color coordinating as I am, or if you're looking for something for casual wear, then I'd definitely recommend this shirt. I think I wore it for a month's worth of weekends before I first washed it. I don't wear deoderant or antiperspirant in the winter (why would I?), and it managed odor very well...

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
switching over on 01/17/2011 16:08:28 MST Print View

They're the only socks I have. I'm only just starting to try some baselayers (2 shirts in the mail). I really like Underarmour heat gear tees for every day, but they do hold the stink. I want some undies, too but I'm waiting for some sales or something. $40 for a shirt seems reasonable...$40 for a single set of drawers...I'm still in sticker shock.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
everyday on 01/17/2011 16:38:27 MST Print View

I've worn merino wool for every day use for 2 years. I have easily 10 or more tee's alone, i pretty much only wear merino socks and boxers, and i have worn out hoodies(being hit by a car while biking doesn't help though.) i some times go a week before washing some stuff(shirts, hoodies) but being i work in a gear shop, and can get some stuff for free has swayed me a lot.

duriily wise, i have worn some older 190 weight ice breaker tee for over 2 years now, and are still fine. i have even worn the UL wool from BPL a lot for use at work under flannel shirts and under shop stuff in the ski shop.

main thing i find is you can wear it for a while without washing it, keeps me more comfortable than wearing cotton shirts and hoodies and i can pick it up off the girls floor in the morning and head to work doing the walk of shame without smelling too bad....

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Socks on 01/17/2011 16:56:19 MST Print View

I wear merino socks a lot at work during the winter and whatever cheap/effective insulation I can come up with for the rest of me.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
I love Icebreaker! on 01/17/2011 18:14:49 MST Print View

After I realized how much I loved my smartwool socks I bought a crap load of Icebreaker tee's from Steep and cheap one day at the office. Long story short I have totally switched over all socks to merino and I have 8 tops all in various weights. I backapcked around Europe and went 28 days without washing one shirt and I wore it everyday! The only thing that happened to it was my deoderant changed the color under the arm pit but that's it. I've worn that shirt like crazy for 4 years now and it's still awesome. The seems in the shoulder are starting to give so I gotta be careful how I take it off but I feel it's definately lived up to it's price. Icebreaker all the way!

Just note that if you end up loving to wear merino all the time it is costly, so watch your wallet!

Dennis Hiorns

Locale: Michigan
RE: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 19:07:06 MST Print View

Thanks for all the great comments. Based on what I'm hearing, it's perfectly acceptable to wear my merino for several days without washing (especially by rotating through 2 or 3 sets). This will likely save on laundry and cut the number of tshirts/underwear/socks I own to just a few of each.

I just received a couple Icebreaker tshirts today - not cheap, but they seem like they are very high quality (and the company claims to practice responsible and humane wool harvesting). Here we go...

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
RE: Merino for everyday? on 01/17/2011 22:14:54 MST Print View

Aaron, I got a pretty sweet deal on some Ibex merino boxers from that are 16" long, have a fly, and are very blousey around the leg, the way I like them for max air circulation. I also bought a pair from BPL, but they're not really boxers but long briefs, like bike shorts, and without a fly at that. Now why would anyone make men's skivies without a fly? I wear them but they're not my favorite like the Ibex.

Bryan Redd
(pdx) - F
Merino: IBEX on 01/18/2011 08:52:18 MST Print View

I have a wide range of merino wool apparel, including socks, underwear, base layer, mid-layer, top layer, glove liners, neck gaiter and hats.

Recently, I've added to my collection with the IBEX Indie T-neck, which I now wear to the office routinely. Casual/dress, comfortable and good looking.

The wide temperature range, and yes, the fact that they have an extended use/wash interval are strong attributes.

I own Smartwool, Icebreaker and IBEX. IBEX has, however, become my preferred vendor and all of my merino purchases for the past 12 months have been from IBEX. In addition the IBEX quality, styles and customer service, a very important facet is that most of their merino wool products are made in the US in New England (using NZ wool). Supporting our local economies is critical if we are to have a sustainable future.

And, no, I do not work for IBEX. But I sure do like their products!



Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Small Wardrobe on 01/18/2011 10:09:37 MST Print View

Definetly agree about small wardrobe/long wash cycle things.

I've got 5 tops (1 short sleeved, 4 long) and wear them for roughly a week at a time, and so wash them once a month or so. Durability outside of cuffs (darnable using silk) seems good.

I'm actually not at all sure if this is so much more expensive than a wardrobe of cotton stuff - that certainly requires either rather more tops or a much shorter wash cycle. Its certainly nice in a lot of other ways :)