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Merino Wool L/S Zip
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Nicholas Jensen
(attack5) - F

Locale: Murderapolis
Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 06:51:18 MDT Print View

I have been looking for a long sleeve merino wool shirt with a zipper.
This is what I found as the lightest merinos wools for different manufacturers:
Ibex Woolie: 140 g/m2
Patagonia Wool 2: 148 g/m2
Smartwool Microweight: 150 g/m2
Icebreakers (lightest L/S they ofer): 190 g/m2

I will probably end up adding a hoody to it at somepoint. I believe the venerable Smartwool Shadow Hoody was a "versawear" weight and that is 190 g/m2.

My question is: What is the consensus for the different companies listed above in terms of durability and comfort?

Last note, Yes, I have searched this forum prior to posting.

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 07:56:06 MDT Print View

I can't comment on all of these, but I will give this observation. I have the smartwool *light*weight T shirt and the icebreaker skin 200 long sleeve zip. I wear a large, as I'm a stocky 5'6 180 lb or so. The smartwool fits like a comfy cotton T shirt with no tightness around my middle. The icebreaker (as evidenced by the "skin" name) fits like paint. I wear the smartwool as often as I can around town, as it's the comfiest garment I own. The icebreaker worn around town would make me look like a fat slob. It is therefore relegated to wearing under something else or where I don't care who sees me. It's also a little tight around my 17.5" neck, but wearable since it's stretchy.

I also have the ibex shak hoodie, which I love, but be aware that when the hood is worn, it fits like a balaclava, making me look like one of those russian dolls that fits inside the other ones. If I am that cold though, I usually don't care what I look like.

I try to buy gear that I can wear in non-backpacking situations, because I find it more comfortable and versatile than casual wear, and I don't backpack enough to have any more dedicated gear than necessary. As such, none of this may apply to you.

I have *heard* that the MICRO weight smartwool is not durable, but so far I couldn't be happier with my lw t and also my ibex shak.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Wool zip LS shirts on 06/12/2007 08:43:51 MDT Print View

They're all good from a qualitative stand point but for a real LW LS zip shirt --I like the Patagonia Wool2 version. It weighs in as light or lighter than the others, doesn't have pokey chafing seams (an issue w/ the Ibex Woolies) and has a mid-height collar that I find less bulky and more comfortable than the higher, T-neck styles of the other companies. So far, the Patagonia shirt is holding up well in action.

On the mid-weight front, If you can find a Spectrum Hoody, grab it.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 09:05:01 MDT Print View

If wool is new to you, whichever brand you buy, make sure it's easily returnable.

Many people sing the praises of wool, especially 100% merino wool. I gave it a try earlier this year -- Smartwool l/s zip tee and REI brand. Unfortunately for me, both tees were itchy -- not madly itchy -- but enough to be annoying. Interestingly, the cheaper REI brand itched less than the Smartwool. Obviously, YMMV.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 09:06:03 MDT Print View

I have long term experience with Ibex and Smartwool. They both make excellent products. I tend to favor Ibex because they tend to have what I want. Ibex also has the 17.5 micron merino which is very nice. Unfortunately I don't have direct experience with the Ibex Woolies, though I plan to soon. I wear some sort of Ibex clothing every day and have done so for about 3 years now. I have yet to wear anything out. None of my merino wool clothing even shows the slightest sign of wear. My Smartwool Shadow Hoody is holding up very well also, though I only wear it on outings. I hope it never wears out as I can't replace it! My Ibex 17.5 Polos are very comfortable. People are generally amazed when I point out that my polo shirt is made of wool and that it is so soft. I wear my polos all summer long, even when it's above 100°F and I believe I'm as comfortable as you can be at that temperature. It's always been below 80°F when I'm wearing my Shadow Hoody and I'm comfortable. I'm a cyclist and I wear Ibex cycling shorts and a Qu T when I ride. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the options you've listed but I would favor the Ibex.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 09:41:03 MDT Print View

I have worn the Smartwool LS Microweight Zip the last two hikes in temps in the high 60s during the day possibly reaching into the low 70s and it is very comfortable with not even the slightest itch. I’ve worn other brand merino wool, e.g. Duofold, and was more than slightly uncomfortable, but I recommend this Microweight. I also have a Smartwool Versa weight shirt which is too heavy to hike in except in cool temps in the 50s and below.

Edited by johnk on 06/13/2007 12:07:38 MDT.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 11:07:56 MDT Print View


I also wanted a L/S Merino Wool with a full front zip. Several years ago I had the chance to buy, at a great discount, an Icebreaker L/S with a short zip. I had a 2-way separating zipper put on it. The sewing cost about $25.

When the Patagonia #2 Wool L/S with short zip came out I bought one of them and added a Hood made out of another #2 Wool Crew to it. I did the sewing for the Hood.

MYOG-SW Capilene Hood Project

Nicholas Jensen
(attack5) - F

Locale: Murderapolis
MERINO WOOL L/S ZIP on 06/12/2007 11:28:54 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for your comments. I am not new to wool, I just wanted to do research into what has / has not worked for others.

It was your wool hoody project that gave me the inspiration. I probably won't do that until I can get a shirt at discount to chop up or I may look at getting a yard of the 190 g/m2 merino from


Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: MERINO WOOL L/S ZIP on 06/12/2007 16:23:07 MDT Print View


Just my two cents, I cannot detect a difference in comfort between Smartwool's lightwieght zip T and Icebreaker's lightweight T. As stated earlier, the Icebreaker stuff is skin tight. I haven't had enough usage out of the Icebreaker to comment on durability but the 180 g (or thereabouts, they change it so often I'm not sure where my 2 shirts fall) Smartwool stuff has proven very durable. I've got a few snags and holes, but nothing I wouldn't expect for the use its seen.

Ryan Corder
(demo) - MLife

Locale: Arkansan in Seattle
Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/12/2007 16:53:32 MDT Print View

I own the Woolies Zip T, actually two of 'em, and it is one of my favorite pieces of gear.

For me, it isn't itchy at all and the zip is nice and deep for those times you really need some heavy ventilation. I also tend to push up my sleeves a lot and the cuffs do stretch out after a while but always seem to shrink back to normal after a wash.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Merino Wool on 06/13/2007 09:49:40 MDT Print View

Since we are on the subject, I have a question about a new Smartwool microweight short sleeve t I just bought from (another great company from Bozeman, by the way.) What is the upper temperature range for this shirt? I often hike in temps of 95F or even higher in the summer. It's a medium green, so I'm not sure I'd want to wear it in real hot weather due to the color alone!

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Wool in hot temps. on 06/13/2007 10:58:02 MDT Print View

The Beduoin and the Taureg have been traversing the Deserts of Arabia and the Sahara (respectively) for centuries wearing Wool garments (often in dark colors!).
They must be doing something right.

I have comfortably worn light wool shirts (in a light color!) into the eighties. Wool actually has a very broad comfort range and does a pretty good job of moisture transport. 95 degrees? i'd be waiting out the day in the shade somewhere and travel by night!

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Merino Wool on 06/13/2007 11:18:07 MDT Print View

Four months ago I purchased two Icebreaker Superfine 140 lite t's and they are simply amazing. I wear them running everyday in temps up to 97 degree's several weeks ago. I find that they far outperform any synthetic shirt that I own. The whole thermoregulation idea regarding wool is not just hype. Running even on the hottest days I get a sort of cooling effect from the evaporation of sweat. Best of all I wash them once a week and run/hike four times a week. Not possible with a synthitic shirt unless you do not care about the odor in your house

On the negative side, I would not take them on any overnight trip where heavy rain was expected. While I do find that they dry much faster than other thicker wool items I own, they still stay damp for at least a day.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/13/2007 11:26:56 MDT Print View

I own a pair of Tops and Bottoms Woolies. The only negative comment I could make would be that the top which is a LS 1/3 zip mock design is skin tight -- and I do mean skin tight. You can snap it on your skin it is that tight. I am 6'3" and weigh 175. Although atheletically built, I would call myself slim and this top in Large is almost toooo Tight! So if you are considering a purchase be aware of this issue.
As far as quality and construction. It is typical Ibex -- First Rate. Unlike Kevin D 's comment about seams being "pokey", I have never experienced this. Flat and unnoticed by me, the seams never bothered me. I have used this combo on numerous Sierra Hikes instead of my REI silk long undies and find that they reallly keep me warm. I have even used the top to hike in and find that in most weather it never seems either too warm or too cool. Like Goldilocks, it's just right for most conditions from 90 degrees to 40 degrees. I am very sun sensitive and I also find that both this top and another Ibex top @ 190 weight provide very good sun protection.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 06/13/2007 11:28:16 MDT.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/13/2007 13:40:11 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for the advise! You saved me from a mistake I would have certainly made. I'm 6'4" and 210 lbs and I usually order size large from Ibex. Would you say that large in the Bottoms is good or would you go XL?

I agree with you on Ibex quality and the comfort range of good merino. Wools good reputation in handling the cold has biased the perception of it's merit for warm weather. Color, cut and fabric weight need to be considered along with the fiber.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Ibex sizing on 06/13/2007 14:26:54 MDT Print View


I'm just about same weight and height, and I definitely recommend that you size up to XL for the Ibex bottoms. Don't know why but Ibex tends to size small below the waist. XL tops fit perfectly. Great stuff, Ibex. Richard

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Wooly Bedouins and Tuaregs on 06/13/2007 14:51:48 MDT Print View

As for these desert folks wearing woolens, one should consider:

1. Desert nights can be cold, as are the higher altitudes (e.g. Atlas Mountains). Wool excels in colder climes.

2. People generally use locally-availabe materials -- wool from camels and sheep are traditionally easy to obtain whereas growing cotton requires extensive water sources. Perhaps the Bedouins and Tuaregs have simply learned to tolerate wool when it's hot all around. Egyptians too have access to wool, but favor linen and cotton over wool.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Re: Re: Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/13/2007 15:50:05 MDT Print View

I agree with Richard above. Size up to XL for the bottoms. Can't speak to the tops but he seems to be about your size and feels that the XL on the top is also a good bet. You may have to order and return. Lord knows I have kept the post office profitable this way. Good Luck!

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Wool in hot temps. on 06/13/2007 17:00:38 MDT Print View

I wore my "tomato" red smartwool lightweight T in florida where the daytime temps were 85-90 and it was excellent. I never felt like it made me any hotter than I would have been shirtless. I also REALLY enjoyed how it kept me warm when it rained at dusk and the temp dropped. Adding the houdini was plenty, while my other family members were all cold. I am looking for deals on more colors. I'd wear it every day if I could.

Alycia Cavadi
(momentum) - F
Re: Merino Wool L/S Zip on 06/14/2007 11:55:46 MDT Print View

Icebreaker will have a L/S 150g/m available for Fall/Winter 07/08. It will come in a crew neck style, for both men & women.

Preview of men's can be seen at:

Preview of women's can be seen at:

Icebreaker merino is durable, comfortable, and does not retain odor, even after multiple days of wear. Icebreaker merino is biodegradable, and the fiber is an annually renewable resource - a nice all-natural alternative to synthetic base layers.