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Smartwool Microweight or REI Silk base-layers for JMT hike
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Justice Baker

Locale: Central Oregon
Smartwool Microweight or REI Silk base-layers for JMT hike on 05/10/2012 10:38:55 MDT Print View

Which would be better for a JMT thru hike? The only other long pants I will take will be MontBell Wind Pants. I know the Silk base-layers will have a lower weight, any other advantages to the silk?

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
Re: Smartwool Microweight or REI Silk base-layers for JMT hike on 05/11/2012 17:46:47 MDT Print View

I'm slowly phasing out every other type of base layer that I have besides wool. Wool just works for me....especially for backpacking. . It's comfortable (breathes much better than any artificial material or silk) and does not stink right away, so less chafing irritation issues etc.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Why Would One Not Choose Wool? on 05/11/2012 18:18:30 MDT Print View

Wool has never let me down. It works as advertised: insulates, breathes, keeps one warm when wet, dries quickly; and good wool smells of lanolin, a hearty and honest fragrance.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Why Would One Not Choose Wool? on 05/11/2012 18:41:31 MDT Print View

My only concern is the durability of pure thin Merino Wool as a base layer. Personally I would think a blend of wool and polyester would provide some durability, something like what Patagonia does with their Merino wool base layers.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Wool is Dependable. on 05/11/2012 18:53:02 MDT Print View

Randy: that's a fair consideration, but I've never, ever, worn out anything made of wool. They may have gotten saggy, but never given up. I've probably lost more quality wool items than I've discarded. Wool, to me, is never undependable.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Why Would One Not Choose Wool? on 05/11/2012 20:55:30 MDT Print View

> My only concern is the durability of pure thin Merino Wool as a base layer.
Dry wool is not too bad, but someone here washed his wool base layer and accidentally stuck his finger through it while wet. Wool is very weak when wet.


Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Interesting on 05/11/2012 20:58:54 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing that bit Roger.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Wool is Dependable. on 05/11/2012 21:08:45 MDT Print View

I agree. Wool rarely fails. If it does, it is only after wearing it a LOT. I have used UUL Ibex for 5-6 years, between 30-90 nights per year. The only complaint is that it does get a bit streached after a while, especially wet, the wrinkles can bother me, but this is one of those wierdisms I carry around I guess... Base layers should be nearly skin tight. Smart will lights are almost as good, just a bit heavier. Capaline has no real smell of its own, but will build up my own on longer trips. Silk I used for many years for skin tight base layers inder fishing waders in winter (steelheading.) Nylon/Spandex or poly blends don't have the warmth of wool for the weight. The UL weights don't seem to do much beyond the older silk, but, they do dry faster.

Wool for a base layer or insulating layer in corse weaves with guard hairs is just good in every category. Yes you can beat them in any one, at the expense of another. But, wool is well balanced, overall.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
REI silk base layer - not a fan on 05/11/2012 21:16:16 MDT Print View

I'm unimpressed with the silk base layer long sleeve shirts I bought at REI last year. The sleeves were far too long, so I chose the closer fitting medium over my normal large. They fit first time on, but shrank after the first wash (yes, I followed the directions on the label). There's little give in the fabric, and the seams chafe at the armpit.

In contrast my Icebreaker merino shirts are comfortable in all conditions. I do prefer the 200 weight over the 150, especially when my skin is dry in winter.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
100% Merino vs. Merino/synth blend on 05/11/2012 21:23:15 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 07:57:30 MDT.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Merino wool base layers on 05/12/2012 21:13:29 MDT Print View

Stick with the quality brands that place durability over weight saving and you'll never have a wearing out issue with merino. Patagonia 2, Ibex, Filson, MontBell, MEC, BPL Beartooth, and any Icebreaker above 150. I've heard Icebreaker has strengthened the new 150s ability issues.and added a bit of Lycra, which ought to solve its durability issues.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
merino v syn on 05/12/2012 21:21:47 MDT Print View

I have both and I like both, syn definitely dries faster, merino provides more warmth for the weight, merino does a better job w/ odor, but Capilene isn't too bad in that regards

I find myself using merino more in winter and cap 1 more in summer, shoulder season it's often a toss up

Patagonia's Merino 1 is really a good piece, glad they brought it back- blending merino and syn is a win:win

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: merino v syn on 05/13/2012 07:11:16 MDT Print View

Mike +1

In the southeast during the summer and shoulder seasons I prefer syn over wool. I find it better in the heat and humidity.


Edited by wufpackfn on 05/13/2012 07:11:57 MDT.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Love Merino on 05/13/2012 12:52:16 MDT Print View

I've had great luck with several brands of Merino and synthetic alike, but have really grown to prefer Merino for just about everything. It hurt the wallet, but I switched to my daily under ware being Smartwool boxers and Montbell t shirts. No problem at all with durability wearing them everyday. The MB T shirts shrunk a bit, my wife accidentally put them in the dryer, not too bad, but they're definitely skin tight now.

Check out the Stoic Merino on sale at right now, some really good deals if you don't mind the colors. GoLite is supposed to be increasing the size of their Merino line next year too, which are reasonably priced as well.

Justice Baker

Locale: Central Oregon
bought icebreaker on 05/13/2012 15:35:52 MDT Print View

I bought some icebreaker Redram bottoms and Oasis 200 top from STP.