I had a ground effect base which never really impressed me, replaced it with a lighter weight £5 synthetic which works far better- warmer, and doesn't get that instant damp feel. On the other hand it does smell horrendous.
I think I bought my Lab Gear merino base layer circa 2005 and it's still going strong. As a side note, it's probably been tumble dried 100's of times and is still the same size as then I bought it. I guess they are not trading any more?
I have a Howies merino top from 2005 which is still going strong as my "go to" thermal, although it probably thinner that it was. Cost per use it's the best item of clothing I've ever bought. I also have a Rab MeCo merino mix top that has been excellent. I wash both these tops with other stuff and they're both fine. I have an Ice Breaker top from a couple of years ago which seems to have turned scratchy with age and doesn't seem to be lasting half as well as the Howies or the Rab. I guess this might be the downside of merino, you just don't know what you're getting.
I wear a lot of merino and love it but found some makes are head and shoulders above others on quality.
Howies merino is very good, Endura is only alright.
i have a Ground Effect submariner one which i've had for years and is excellent but i think is not 100% merino - i also have an icebreaker once which is pants.
I guess there's merino and there's merino.
I really like it - I suffer badly in the cold but merino works very well, I find it dries out quickly. Most of my base layers are Rapha - some of the mid-weight ones and also a very thin one whihc I tend to use in summer or for track use.
Wanted one of their thick winter ones but they've sold out.
Another thumbs down for Icebreaker. Give me the old smelly helly stuff that HH stopped using about 10 years ago.
ton how much you after for the XXL one?
Decathlon Merino stuff is very good and quite good value.
Canterbury Cold works for me.
Never tried Merino and being a sweaty berstard I do not think it would be any good for me.
I find merino tops itchy :-/
I now remember that I have a Ground Effect Submerino, a Howies Waffler and a Swirve mid layer and they are all great too although the Submerino suffers from having artificial panels on the front that make it sweaty to wear next to the skin but as a mid layer it is OK.
For multi day events (aka holidays), travelling and fluctuating temperatures you cannot beat Merino.
Are you really saying that however many layers and a Camelbak and however hard you are working, that your nylon baselayer doesn't get damp? Mine used to, then they lost insulation and stunk. Merino keeps insulating when wet, dries in a reasonable time and doesn't smell. Repeat for a week (as I did on trans Wales and numerous holidays)
And its natural, biodegradeable, a by product of roast lamb, and supports farmers in areas that can't produce much else.
I've used merino made by Swobo, Endura and Aldi stuff and never kept any of it very long. I prefer man made as a base layer, my faves being 10 year old Pearl Izumi made from stuff called Xstatic with silver thread woven in. It's soft warm comfortable and doesn't ming or accumulate static electricity. I've had good experience with bamboo as well.
What is the On-One/Planet X Merino like - I see SportPursuit have Planet X 160g Merino Tees on sale for £22 right now.
Would I really notice a difference versus £55+ for Howies, etc?
Is it 100% merino? Many are mixing polyester in, just a bit.
I am a big fan of merino and now possum. Suits me on all occasions, does get damp but keep the dampness warm and it's fine.
Merino works well for me but I can see why it'd not be a panacea. Doing the Camino de Santiago last year I was wearing an Endura tech s-s top for 9 days - washed it once, after 5 days, not because it ponged at all but the salt rime from the sweat was looking pretty 'orrible!
Rapha and Sugoi base layers are lovely, dry in no time. Just bought some Smartwool chamois for next year's Camino so we'll see how those go...!
I have tried Ice breaker, Swobo, Endura DHB and On One merino and rate them all. The swobo wore a little quicker than I would have liked but was always very nice on. I hate going back to 'normal' biking tops, find them quite uncomfortable compared to Merino. Merino socks are ace.
I've been looking into that Chocolate Fish stuff - it's made from the same stuff and at the same factory that originally made Howies and IceBreaker, before each of those was taken over and moved production elsewhere.
Anyone got any Chocolate Fish Merino?
Each to their own but I prefer the feel of merino and find it's more pleasant to wear over a wider range of temperatures. I like the combination of merino and polyester in my GE submerino as I generally wear it as an outer layer. This combination does me in most conditions unless it's really wet or windy. I've had my ON-ONE merino for nearly two years and worn it lots as I wear it for work for about 6 months of the year and quite happy with it. I returned some Howies merino as it started to get holes in the arms but others seem to have good experiences with it.
I have spent the last decade bouncing between merino and synth, at 100kg and sweat like Zindane Zindane these are my findings, used for biking, walking, running inc trail/felland skiing, terrain incs nepal/colorado rockies/alps/pryyenees/lakes/dales/wales brands include for merino
inbetween wool and poly
IMHO wool as a base layer useless, wets out for high aerobic activity or for me walking up a hill. Cold wet useless lump/ Appluads Ed O for his honesty estimation. Been really cold on top of scarfell waiting whilst for others using wool, sticks in the memory as i rarely suffer from being cold .
synth works evaporates quickly and dries, okay with salt crystals and sweat
inbtween ground efffect was good for me
best use for wool as a mid layer a nike wool jersey was a good send when biking in the pryenees. great as a mid layer skiing and best of all as that top you put on after. Good for multi day trips
Wool socks yes warm when wet
Howies dire never bother again for wool
smartwool been good to me
icebreaker still in its pacakging
kona turned to felt
cannondale long sleeve top synth brill/decathlon stuff (raid event) great/aldi baselayers pretty brilliant.
Loads of prooganda on wool, i do want to believe in ot as a miracle solutio hence i keep dipping in again....only to be disappointed.
Pays yer money and sweat.......
I've been pleased with my Howies merino base layer and is always my first choice.
However I thought I might try the winter base layer from Assos as I'm commuting from next week.
Most of the wool I bought in a rush of 'miracle fabric' enthusiasm has been relegated to walking apart from a light sportwool 150gm which is just right for a cold day under a soft shell and a ground effect one which gets used under Goretex waterproof. Otherwise I use patagoia capilene but as it is so expensive I wait for sales and special offers.
Strangely I find the merino socks keep my feet warm even after the shoes have started to leak but the base layers make me cold as soon as they get wet.
Never been a fan either. Some good socks about but I think it is more that they were premium hiking socks rather than merino. Fwiw my favourite base layer is sports wool so a blend of wool and poly prop. Might be a case of cheap plastic base layer vs expensive merino an expensive plastic vs cheap wool.
Merino keeps insulating when wetThis is what I was hoping for when I bought the stuff. Descending at the end of a road ride in sub zero conditions isn't a nice feeling. It's fine for summer riding but when you are out in really cold weather and beasting about/sweating heavy.. its poor. I got sucked into believing it was good and never realized until recently just how much better the polyester tops are performing. I thought merino was doing well,it's obviously a lot better than cotton but you lose track of what's best once you go onto something new that's described as being the bee's knee's.
I now steer clear of using it offroad on longer rides as the thought of being out for longer than expected with this freezing wet wool wrapped around me is a recipe for disaster. They old school polyesters wick far better,they might smell after one ride but at least I'll survive a little longer!
So I've been wearing the icebreaker snowboarding and it's been superbly warm and comfy and my mates tell me it does not smell after four consecutive days ( they are not humouring me) So while it's not working for UK damp mountain biking, it's good for this application.
The key to merino is keeping it ventilated. Use it without a waterproof if possible and if you do have to use a waterproof, make sure it's light and breathable. Pertex is perfect.
If you're a fat plodder who likes to be completely isolated from the environment you're riding in, merino may not be for you.
I find merino wooly mid-layers good in cool damp conditions, but base layers can be chilly when one sweats a lot in cooler conditions. It may come down to thickness - thicker ones seem to keep you warm when wet better.
Merino is best for me at least, when I am pottering about, walking etc or when it is not so cold. And its anti stink nature makes it good for multiday jaunts too
I love merino kit much nicer than smellyester!
There's nothing I have to add here that hasn't already said separately above, but I've found the following.
All merino is not created equal, I keep going back to Howies. The base layers are so fine it got an almost silky feel. Generally, mid layers are coarser, because they're thicker and not intended to be worn next to the skin.
Warm and wet is what merino gives you. It's something like 75% of the insulation remains when wet (read that somewhere ages ago but can't remember where). Depending on your tolerance of dryness, this may or may not be for you. Merino is not windproof. Wet merino with windchill will make you cold! - pretty foolish to consider otherwise. Merino will hold your sweat. As has been said, its best paired to something very highly breathable, like pertex so that it can dump as much moisture as possible. This is my preferred setup for 95% of the riding I do.
Merino takes much longer to dry than synthetics. You may or may not be prepared to live with this, depending on your tolerance to the warm and wet philosophy. You will at least, be warmer than a soggy synthetic, although that will dry quicker.
IMO merino is more comfortable to wear over a wider range of temperatures and humidity. It's a small difference though and it would only bother you if you were a sensitive flower.
Merino is not as tough as synthetics, by some margin.
I wear both. My stock ride gear is a Howies NBL with a wind proof on top. I rarely wear a plastic membrane jacket unless biblical deluges are predicted, or the ride starts with rain. When I do, it seems to work best with a synthetic as a base layer.
Same with everything in this life, theres good and bad...
I've been using merino for years, mostly for climbing/mountaineering, loafing around and working, although i do use merino blends for cycling.
the icebreaker lightweights from sport pursuit aren't that great really, seem to get damp quicker than most and rip if you look at them wrong.
best i have found are:
Finisterre eddy base (the king)
Patagonia (various weights, all good)
Torm and rapha (same thing aren't they?) sport wool blend, best for riding.
Typically they are all pretty pricey but i will happily part with my money gladly when i need a new one and I'm not a wealthy man.
Synthetics are fine if your gonna get real sweaty and be out in the wind but for EVERYTHING else i much prefer sheep hair shirts
The key to merino is keeping it ventilated. Use it without a waterproof if possible and if you do have to use a waterproof, make sure it's light and breathable. Pertex is perfect.Agreed.. I use a poly layer over a thin, close fitting merino base and a robaix-lined part-windproof / thin softsshell type top in the cold, add a pertex or similar windproof if it's windy or rains. Either warm and dry, or warm and wet, all good. Merino is great stuff but how it's used is important. I find it a lot warmer and more adaptable than all-poly layers. Merino base and a goretex jacket on a bike is a bad combo unless it's chucking down.
Evaporation causes cooling so if you feel a bit of chill coming through at times but it's only a breeze here and there you're about right for staying fairly dry, means you're drying as you go. If you don't, you may be overheating and getting sweaty wet. (I did 2x 6hr hilly rides in the snow this weekend, SS so was working hard quite often, popped a windproof on when it was windy on top of the hills, got home with a pretty much dry merino layer on and wasn't chilly at any point)
Climbers use belay jackets as it's stop-start stuff. You will get cold if you stop in damp layers whatever they are - good to take a spare layer if you're likely to stop here and there.
merino is great in the right application, im still experimenting but i have come to the following conclusions
Merino socks keep you warm when wet, they work better than any poly sock, doesnt matter if you use cheap merino or expensive smart wool, wool keeps you warmer.
So why doesnt a wet merino top keep you warm when wet?, well it kinda does but your feet dont mind as much and your boots probably shield the wind and keep the warmth in.
now interestingly merino doesnt make a great running top, it wets out too quick and if theres a bit of wind then you get chilly, However put that merino top on skiing and under your skiing jacket which protects you from wind and wet and breaths well and you will be toasty all day long due to the low activity non continuous nature of skiing.
If your primary objective is to stay dry helly hansen tops work great, they dont absorb water and dry quick.
So if you have a high aerobic activity like running or cycling in the cold then i think your best bet is a poly prop helly hansen base layer with a decent polyester fleece from northface or someone over the top, if really cold then put a polyester top in between, you should come home fairly dry.
now if its raining or you put on a waterproof then basically your going to get wet through high activity. even wind proof tops and shell tops can make you wet, thats why i prefer a fleece that doesnt get too wet and keeps you warm and blocks some wind but breaths. unless it pissing down then you get wet from sweat or wet from rain.
you think merino is bad, imo waterproof jackets combined with high activity are pointless!
wow started to digress and rant a bit there
Socks fantastic, yeah you walk through water and your feet get cold, once you get going again your feet are just wet, find them to be better than warmers.
Baselayer, yeah takes ages to dry, but when it's chucking it down you get the same effect as the socks.
Possibly helps that I run hot right enough.
I've been using my Icebreaker merino for maybe 7/8 years - I use it winter mountaineering in the first instance that and a pertex windproof top an nothing else for the walk in, then as a base layer under a pertex and pile buffalo copy (both pertex bits are montane) when I'm actually on the route (the slower pace etc. means I get colder.
I don't have problems with getting cold, and I shove another layer on if I do, really wet weather, I tend not to bother going out, or stay low and walk/keep moving, so don't get wet. I've used it a few times cycling, but only if it's very cold, in the 'warm' which for me wearing a merino is above zero, then it tends not to get used that much, maybe as a jumper on a cold summer evening/bivvi etc.
This topic has been closed to new replies.