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I need a new baselayer
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John Gelack

Locale: North East
I need a new baselayer on 04/08/2011 09:48:26 MDT Print View

I have been wearing Patagonia silk weight Cap 1 for years, and have been very happy with it. Its proven to be quick drying,comfortable,even in the heat of summer, and wears like iron. It does start to stink after a couple of days,but that really does not bother me. I have been trying to revise my clothing list,and since my Cap 1 is coming to the end of its lifespan, I thought I would get a new baselayer, I'm just not sure which one. I know Merino wool is VERY popular. Last October I went on a three day trip and wore a Smartwool microweight LS shirt,this was my first and only experience with Merino wool. While I found the shirt comfortable for the most part, I did think it felt a little warm while hiking in the sun. But I really don't think I could make a accurate decision on whether or not a wool baselayer is for me, based on three days of use. So I would like to try Merino again, there must be a good reason why this material is so popular. Can someone please recommend a good Merino wool baselayer. I assume that I should only be considering the thinnest wool garments I can find. What about brands (Icebreaker,Ibex,Smartwool)are they all basically the same or is one brand better than the others. I appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks John

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Thin Merino on 04/08/2011 11:23:05 MDT Print View

One problem with UL merino wool is it is far more fragile than your previous shirt.
I do like them, but they tend to loose their shape after a few washings.

I often wonder if a merino/nylon blend wouldn't be better?

Mike Adams
(MikeAdams) - F
Smartwool on 04/08/2011 12:26:15 MDT Print View

I personally am a big fan. They seem to get softer and softer with each use, are very light, breath very well, and the odor control is HUGE!

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Thin Merino on 04/08/2011 14:21:04 MDT Print View

I've found that the shape problems with merino can be dealt with pretty well by drying them occasionally when washing. You gotta be careful doing with, as depending on your patience and dryer, you can end up with a shirt that is shrunk a few sizes. This has maintain the size and shape of my wool baselayers very well.

I've found better durability and less pilling with my two very light Stoic base layers than the Smartwool Microlight (150 g/m^2) tops. Sort of surprised me, considering what I paid for them, but I'm not complaining!

I agree with Steven though- I think that a blend of merino, spandex, nylon and/or polyester would make the most sense. There may be a decent one out there, but I've not found one yet. Mind, I haven't looked very hard. I've seen some merino/polypropylene blends by Terramar and others which had 5-15% of merino and usually on the outer layer presumably so that they could get away with marketing them as budget merino.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: I need a new baselayer on 04/08/2011 15:10:53 MDT Print View


I went with the Terramar Men's Therma TX2 Silk and Merino Wool. I love my wool socks and liners but I was a little hesitant to go liner less with my base layer.

The inner layer of silk calmed my fears of deciding between itching or shivering.;-)

I got mine at Campmor.

The link will show you the shirt but they have the bottoms also.

Party On,


Russ Porter

Locale: Anchorage
Baselayer on 04/08/2011 17:14:58 MDT Print View

Microweight wool will not last as long as lightweight synethics. I have a microweight smartwool shirt that I got about a year and half ago and it's already starting to wear out. However I do feel I got my money's worth for it. Living in Alaska it's my daily running/cross country skiing/hiking and backpacking layer. I've wore it probably 200 times in that period. I think the pros for comfort and warmth for weight far outweigh the price that it's not quite as durable. If I figured a price per time wearing it I think it would be at about 20 cents. From now on for me it's only merinowool.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Merino Wool on 04/08/2011 18:03:11 MDT Print View

I've had a good experience with merino wool. I have a Smartwool long sleeve 1/4 zip top and an Icebreaker 150 short sleeve T. I've had long sleeve for a couple of years and it's been through considerable use on the trail. I've experienced no loss of shape or excessive wear from either. I don't think I would ever go back to synthetic. I never put them in the dryer--just air dry, which may prevent the shape issue.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
A few washings on 04/08/2011 18:23:21 MDT Print View

Regarding my quote:
", but they tend to loose their shape after a few washings."

By a few washings, now that I think of it, more than a hundred:-)

So yes, merino is worth it. I wear mine a lot, even though the shape is getting a little off.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 04/09/2011 17:44:41 MDT.

Eric Wheeler
(CactiGuy) - F

Locale: Oklahoma
merino on 04/08/2011 20:49:52 MDT Print View

Ive tried a few different companies' merino wool garments. I really like the EB First Ascent 1/4 zip so far over the smartwool top I ended up selling after the comparison. I own two pairs of boxer briefs, 1 from icebreaker and 1 from minus 33 degrees. The minus 33 degrees blow away the icebreakers and are cheaper. Surprised me too! The minus 33 degrees is really soft with a merino waistband and I wear them all the time. They have held up very well so far. Still love the smartwool socks though!

Edited by CactiGuy on 04/08/2011 20:50:44 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
merino 1 on 04/09/2011 15:51:06 MDT Print View

not sure if they are still making it, but patagonia's merino 1 is a really nice layer- combining 150 wt merino w/ syn (65/35)

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: merino 1 on 04/09/2011 16:06:49 MDT Print View

+1 on Patagonia Merino 1, expensive, but worth it. I even wear mine as a casual shirt. Doesn't seem to be on the Patagonia website anymore...

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"I need a new baselayer" on 04/09/2011 16:29:46 MDT Print View

+2 Merino 1, great for everything.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Merino 1 on 04/09/2011 17:11:45 MDT Print View

Is the merino 1 any cooler than pure merino? I have some 150 merino and love it but it's a little hot in warm weather. I'm wondering if the Merino/syn blend could be the best of both worlds....

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
yeah, wool. on 04/09/2011 17:13:16 MDT Print View

The original Patagonia Wool 2 stuff is even thinner than the Stoic 150 stuff. I have been wearing my Stoic for the last three days just around and I barely even smell even after doing yard work today for 2.5 hours and sweating. I always make syn stink out in a day and the syn/cotton blend stuff does last long but wool does it for me as a baselayer so far below 80F.

John Gelack

Locale: North East
Thank you for your suggestions on 04/12/2011 22:02:31 MDT Print View

Thank you all for your suggestions. I think I will be getting another Cap 1 shirt, just for temps above 80 degrees, otherwise you guys have convinced me to give Merino a try for the rest of the year. That Patagonia wool looks VERY intresting. Thanks again for your advice. John

Paul Osborn
(bcoutdoors) - F
thumbsup for merino. on 04/13/2011 12:54:20 MDT Print View

I love my Icebreaker 150 base layer, but I haven't tried minus 33. I'll have to give it a try. It really keeps you from stinking.