Rating: 5 / 5
The only merino I've found that I can wear.
I've been curious about merino for some time. I've always worn synethetic base layers - my Helly Hansen polypro shirts aren't the original scratchy plastic ones I bought in the 1970s, but they are well over ten years old. The smell never bothered me that much, they're nowhere near as bad as the first generation ones. But still: they, and all the other synthetics I've tried over the years, still exhibit that dreadful combination of feeling clammy in the wet, too hot when it gets at all warm.
I'd heard - jealously - about the advantages of merino, but I've always been very sensitive to wool, and all the merino I had tried on in shops until now almost brought me out in an instant rash in the changing room. Until now. The Patagonia 1's mix of very fine merino and polyester was the first one I'd tried on that felt like I could wear it.
A couple of weeks and three day hikes later, I'm delighted. The Medium fits me (6 feet, 180 pounds) perfectly - long enough in the body, snug but not tight, sleeves nice and long, but soft & stretchy enough to roll up almost to tee-shirt length. No overnighters yet, but I'm carrying out a controlled simulation by not washing the shirt between days out - one of them long & sweaty - and it still smells nice to me. And no hint of an itch.
I've seen a lot of adverse comments about the durability of the Patagonia wool shirts. The polyester in the new version is supposed to make them harder-wearing. Let's see.
(The Patagonia mix is 1/3 polyester, 2/3 merino. I've noticed Montane has a range at half the price, but 2/3 polyester 1/3 merino. Helly Hansen also does a merino/polypro mix. Might give one of these a try too)
Very light (men's medium 130g), well designed, supremely comfortable