Best Overall Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer
Is Merino Wool Itchy?
Unlike other types of wool, merino is not itchy or bulky. Merino issurprisingly soft and, depending on the brand and make of your merinoclothing, can feel more like a regular t-shirt than a sweater. Personally, Ihave a hard time wearing 100% wool clothing because of its itchiness, but havenever had a problem with merino wool.You’ll also notice that merino fabrics come in different weights. If the pieceof clothing is made from a lighter weight merino, it will feel soft and moresimilar to a slightly coarse cotton t-shirt than a sweater. Heavier weightfabrics will feel more like a plush sweater-sweatshirt hybrid. Either way,it’s comfortable.
Are Merino Wool Clothes a Good Base Layer?
Yes, absolutely. One of wool’s superpowers (merino or otherwise) is that itacts as a cooling, sweat-wicking fabric in hot weather, but a warm, heat-absorbing fabric in cold weather, making it a versatile layer for multipleclimates. Merino, of course, is thinner and less bulky than other wools,making it a wonderful option as a base layer for cold weather adventures.Because of these characteristics, you’ll commonly find merino in outdoors-wear, but these qualities also make it ideal for travel. Whether you wantclothes that can go days without washing, or simply the perfect tee to takewith you on a multi-climate trip, merino wool is up for the challenge.Tip: Want a layer that can do it all? Look for a “lightweight” top—around170-200g. It’ll be the most versatile for a variety of climates.
Best Merino Wool Clothing Brands
Not all merino is created equal. You’ll find a mix of 100% merino and merino-wool blends on the market. Generally (though not always), blends will be a bitcheaper — and some of them still do a pretty good job compared to the 100%wool stuff.Then, of course, there’s the myriad of brands to sift through. Which ones arehigh-quality, have ethical practices, a good price, and actually look good?Start your merino wool shopping with these tried and trusted brands loved bythe vagabonds here at Tortuga: * Best for merino wool tops, t-shirts, and long-sleeves * Has merino wool travel clothes for menA Colorado-based company, Western Rise designs clothes that are meant for theoutdoors — that is, if you consider the outdoors to begin as soon as you leaveyour house. They understand that a durable, quick-dry t-shirt that can wickaway your sweat is just as useful on the trail as it is on your morningcommute.And it shows in their clothes, which combine fashionable, street-ready designswith made from functional fabrics. Merino fans should take a look at theirline of tops and t-shirts.Item to try: Strongcore merino tee ($96). Get out. Be active. Stay confidentknowing this tee will never betray you with pit-stains or B.O., and keep youlooking good from sunrise to well after sundown. * Best for merino wool socks and base layers * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menIf you’ve ever stepped foot in an REI, you’ve probably passed by somethingmade by Icebreaker, including a wide variety of merino wool socks and baselayers.However, we mostly love them for their socks — their base layers sometimesfall apart after one season but their socks are durable, and odor resistant.“I can wear them for a couple of days in a row with no smell,” says Tortuga’sAngela Rollins.Item to try: Socks ($16+) With a wide variety of cuts and colors to choosefrom, Icebreaker is one of the best brands for merino wool socks. * Best for merino wool socks * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menWhile more outdoors ready than travel ready, Vermont-based brand, Darn Toughmakes high-quality merino wool socks that can stand up to any activesituation, in any climate. They may not make much more than socks, but with40+ years of experience behind them, they do it well.Item to try: Hiker Micro Crew Cushion ($22). Made from a merino, nylon, andspandex blend, these rugged socks stand up to the rigor of spending all day onyour feet — whether it’s in the woods or around town — while providing yourfeet with some much deserved cushiony comfort. * Best for merino wool headwear and scarves * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menWhen it comes to travel clothing, versatility is appreciated. Buff’s line of“multifunctional headwear” made of merino wool is nothing if not versatile.While they don’t make anything other than this miracle tube of fabric, theirone-piece wonder can be used as a hat, scarf, face cover — and at least a halfdozen other things. * Best for merino wool dresses * Has merino wool travel clothes for women.Sister brand to Wool and Prince, Wool& has just one product in their line upfor now: a wear-it-anywhere swing dress that’s available in several colors andstriped patterns. Designed to be, “the most practical, most wearable dress inyour wardrobe,” this is a perfect go-anywhere travel dress. And: it haspockets. Yes.Item to try: Rowena Swing Dress ($128) Ladies, this straightforward swingdress can be dressed up or down for any occasion. * Best for merino wool tops, t-shirts, pants, boxers, and socks * Has merino wool travel clothes for menAs my Civic-wearing, merino-wool loving, better half explained: “I love Civicbecause their clothes look cool and they’re really comfortable while biking.”And hey, if it’s comfortable to wear while riding a bike, you know it’s goingto work in any situation your travels throw at it.Item to try: The Frank Chino ($128) or Merino Boxer ($55). For pants (andunderpants) that breathe and move with you as you adventure, look no furtherthan Civic’s chinos and boxers. * Best for merino wool tops, bottoms, jackets, underwear, and socks * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menJust because you can’t afford to spend $16 on a pair of socks or drop $90 fora t-shirt, doesn’t mean merino clothing is out of reach. Seattle-based Woollymakes high quality merino clothes more accessible to those on a budget withtheir comparatively affordable tees, tanks, and base layers. All are under$100 and some are even under $60.Item to try: Women’s Ultralight Tank Top ($40). This affordable, easy-to-layerbasic is a great addition to any warm weather travel wardrobe—especially sinceit can stand up to sweaty, sun-filled days without needing a wash after onewear. * Best for merino wool tops, socks, underwear, and base layers (top and bottom) * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menWe most often rave about Smartwool for their high-quality wool socks, andvariety of designs — including some made specifically for travel. But theyalso make a solid line of lightweight and quick-dry base layers, underwear,and other accessories. Even more exciting, their latest line features 50%recycled merino wool.Item to try: Women’s PhD Pro Medium Crew Socks ($25). Whether it’s a long-haulflight or a hike out in the cold, these socks always keep my feet cozy—sansweird sock smell. * Best for merino wool t-shirts * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and men (but mostly men)Cycling-inspired, Mission Workshop makes a great line of travel clothes formen, including their performance-ready yet stylish pants, shorts, jackets, andtops. And although they don’t have as much of a focus on merino wool productsas the other brands on this list, they do a few merino wool products worthchecking out. Namely, their merino blend tees.Item to try: The Sector t-shirt ($74). A sweat-wicking tee that also looksgood? Heck yeah. * Best for merino wool basics and hats * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menGenerally, we just love Patagonia. Not only do they make high qualityperformance and outdoors-wear, but they do it with a conscience. Their merinowool clothing is no exception. Patagonia only sources wool from farms withhumane treatment of their animals, that have responsible land management, andcan provide high-quality wool. Oh, and did we mention it looks good too?Item to try: Air Crew for Men // Women ($129). Made from a blend of wool andpolyester, Patagonia’s Air Crew is a basic, fitted layer that can be worn onits own or layered under a coat for max coziness. * Best for merino wool socks, base layers, underwear, and accessories * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menAs far as merino goes, Minus33 is pretty affordable — and they don’t sacrificequality for it. All of Minus33’s outdoor-ready lines are sturdy, well-made,and fit well. Their base layers and travel socks are fitted, without being tootight, and comfortable. Many of their clothes also have UV protection, whichis beneficial for outdoors adventures, or just long days out and about.Item to try: Midweight wool bottom for women ($66). These 100% merino woolbottoms are 230g, which means they’ll keep you warm as a cup of hot chocolateon your cold weather travels. * Best for merino wool blazers, boxers, dress shirts, and socks * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and men (very limited women’s clothes)While most other brands focus on merino wool products with an outdoorsy-focus,Wool and Prince has designed merino-based clothes meant for everyday andbusiness occasions. From their won’t-wrinkle-in-your-backpack-blazer and dressshirts, to their chinos, tanks, and t-shirts for layering, Wool and Princeprovides quality wool products that won’t make you look like you’ve juststepped off a trail.For women, they do have a few items in their product line (though — as tendsto be the case with travel and performance wear — much more limited than themen’s line).Item to try: Wool Blazer ($258).Guys, this blazer will make you wonder why youever settled for those other stiff, easily wrinkled, other blazers. * Best for merino wool t-shirts, hoodies, socks, and underwear * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and men (only has travel t-shirts for women)While many of the brands on this list have designed their clothes with outdooradventures in mind, Unbound Merino’s clothes are primarily designed to helpyou travel, and with less. (Dare we say, we’ve found a kindred spirit inanother brand who also embraces minimalism and packing light?) Made fortravelers, by travelers, Unbound Merino’s clothes combine the best of styleand function, making them an ideal choice for your next trip.Item to try: Compact Travel Hoodie ($165). It’s the perfect travel hoodie.Warm when it’s cold, breathable when it’s hot, and always, no matter what,soft and comfy. Also: this is Shawn’s top pick for a travel sweater. * Best for merino wool shoes * Has merino wool travel clothes for women and menYep. That’s right. The shoe that’s taken over San Francisco is made of merinowool. Although these shoes aren’t technically clothing, the quality, comfort,and odor-resistance of Allbirds’ sneakers and loungers have earned them aplace on our list. Just think: how many sneakers can you actually wearcomfortably, and stinky-feet-free, without socks? Now there’s at least one.Item to try: Classic Runners for Women or Men ($95) Allbird’s originals arecomfortable, stylish, and stench-free, which makes them a wonderfullyversatile sneaker for any type of travel.
Best Overall: Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer
Hands down, the best long underwear for extreme temperatures is Smartwool’sMerino 250 top. Not only is this midweight, merino wool base-layer the warmestbase-layer option that Smartwool offers, but it’s also highly breathable andultra-comfy, with none of the itchiness of other thermal underwear fabrics.Shoulder panels help to reduce chafing and optimize comfort, while flatlockstitching eliminates abrasion and enhances fit by reducing bulky seams. Plus,you’ll stay protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays, thanks to the top’s UPF50+ layer of fabric. All in all, when it comes to sheer quality anddurability, nobody does thermal underwear better than Smartwool. A men’sversion is available here.> “These are my go-to camping base layers. They are so incredibly cozy and> offer the perfect amount of stretch and snugness so you feel like you can> move around and still stay really warm.”— Ellie Nan Storck, Hotel Editor02 of 11
Best for Men: Patagonia Capilene Zip-Neck Long Underwear Top
BackcountryPatagonia is the crème de la crème of activewear, so it’s no surprise that theCapilene Midweight Zip-Neck Top for men is a winner. To begin with, there’sthe specialized, quick-drying Polartec Power Grid fabric that boasts warmth,breathability, and optimal moisture-wicking performance. There’s also thetop’s genius structure—a long, center-front zipper that allows for easyventing when you get a tad too sweaty, as well as full underarm gussets andraglan shoulder seams that provide shoulder mobility. Plus, the fabric’ssmooth face is also ideal for layering. This Patagonia top has it all.06 of 11
Best Leggings: ColdPruf Women’s Platinum Dual Layer Bottom
For extra warmth for your lower body (without adding a bulky under-layer toyour outfit), ColdPruf’s Platinum Dual Layer leggings are a classic choice.These fashionable leggings are designed without tags and feature flat seams sothey can easily be worn under any pair of pants. Made out of a polyester andwool blend, these leggings feature an array of cold-weather comfort featuresincluding insulating, moisture-wicking, and anti-odor/anti-microbial to keepyou warm while outside.07 of 11
Best Wool: Brynje Wool Thermo Long Sleeve Shirt Base Layer
Courtesy of BrynjeHandcrafted with 80 percent merino wool and 20 percent polyester yarn, theWomen’s Wool Thermal Shirt from Brynje is incredibly soft on the skin,providing a significant layer of warmth in freezing temperatures. In fact, theclassic ⅜-inch open weave design provides four to six times the insulationvalue of any solid knit by weight, making this the perfect layer to wear ifyou’re going skiing or winter camping. The brand’s high-quality wool blend hasbetter strength and durability than 100 percent Merino wool yarns, and thefabric’s odor management properties are excellent. Not to mention, thespecialized mesh design allows moisture to transfer in vapor form—so you staynice and dry, no matter how hard your body works.Continue to 9 of 11 below.09 of 11
Best Wool Blend: Icebreaker Women’s BodyFitZone 200 Zone Leggings
Courtesy of Icebreakerhttps://www.icebreaker.com/en-us/womens-baselayers/bodyfitzone-200-zone-leggings/104427.htmlWhether you’re hitting the ski slopes, traipsing around on snow-coveredtrails, or just trying to get home from work without turning into a humanicicle, the Icebreaker Women’s BodyFitZone Leggings are ideal. They’re perfectfor year-round use, thanks to the lightweight merino wool fabric withstrategically placed mesh panels for active ventilation. Flatlock seamsprevent chafing and the LYCRA content aids in stretch and mobility. And, theIcebreaker-branded brushed elastic waistband offers ultimate comfort.
How to choose the best base layer for your needs
There are many (many) ingenious hybrid fabrics used in base layers, fromcarbon fibre to silver, but they can broadly be split into two camps: thosemade from merino wool and those created using synthetic fibres.The famous (and expensive) merino wool is warmer by weight, more comfortableand absorbs less body odour. Merino wool retains heat, it’s breathable so itallows sweat to escape, and as a bonus, it’s naturally antibacterial so can beworn for days on end without needing to be washed. For general travel, it’sunbeatable. However, it doesn’t last long.Though there are many hybrids that use a mix of both, the other end of thespectrum is the wholly synthetic base layer. They tend to use variouspolyester blends that are also breathable, but perhaps not quite as warm asmerino. Artificial materials tend to be hard-wearing and easier to engineerand body map. That means they’re generally lighter and longer-lasting.Something else to think about when looking for the best base layer for you isventilation and how it’s designed-in. Although you’re preparing for the cold,if you’re likely to sweat (i.e. you’re exercising), it’s very likely that eventhe finest merino wool won’t be able to wick away every last bead of sweat. Sowhatever the material it’s made from, a base layer that can be unzipped at thefront can allow you to cool down quickly with a burst of cold air. Simple, buteffective.Here’s our guide to buying the best base layer no matter what activity you’reundertaking, and whatever the weather.
What is techwear?
Techware takes a minimalist approach to outdoor wear, making it fashionablewith enhanced functionality.It uses high-tech fabric and production techniques with a focus on functionaldetails, and therefore, as you may expect, usually comes with a high pricetag.For clothing to be qualified as techwear, it should: 1. Be light and comfortable with high mobility; 2. Use fabric with functional properties like water repellency to cope with different weather conditions;While it may give you the impression that it’s something you wear for hikingor sports, it is just as alluring to city dwellers as everyday wear.Techwear clothing tends to be in black, gray and white color with a futuristicflair. You may have come across some techwear outfits that look like acyberpunk or SWAT team member, but techwear can be minimalistic and look cleanas well.
Techwear items explained
The techwear garments you find on the market are typically jackets, midlayers, base layers, pants, shoes, and accessories. * Techwear jacket – Techwear jacket falls into one of two categories: hardshell and softshell. Hardshell is what most people think of with technical clothing. It is usuallylightweight, windproof, waterproof, and durable to give you the highest levelof protection against extreme conditions.Softshell, on the other hand, is not as bulletproof as hardshell but stillgives you a certain amount of protection. It is designed with a focus oncomfortability and style, and comes with a mix of the following properties:breathability, water repellency, wind resistance, and stretchability.It generally comes with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating on it, but itswaterproof ability can hardly be compared to a hardshell. * Techwear mid layers – A techwear mid layer is anything which designed to keep you warm under a techwear jacket. It ranges from hoodies and sweatshirts to fleeces and down jackets. * Techwear base layers – A techwear base layer provides moisture-wicking function and is usually limited to undershirts, shirts, underwear, and socks. * Techwear pants – Techewear pants usually feature stretchability, water repellency, and odor resistance. Some of them will go one up with totally water repellency using fabric and construction similar to a hardshell jacket. * Techwear shoes – Companies like Nike and Adidas continue to release new techwear shoes with an urban aesthetic, offering a wide range of features from sock liners to waterproof zip closure.However, most techwear enthusiasts opt for comfort and style over function. * Techwear accessories – Accessories are usually bags, pouches, and belts and are often overlooked. A techwear bag is usually waterproof or comes with a removable waterproof hardshell. Check out my top backpack recommendations if you’re looking for some ideas.
Cheap techwear buying guide
When you choose your items, consider your level of activity and the elementsyou’ll be facing.For example, if you a mass transit commuter who isn’t in the rain for morethan 5 minutes at a time? A softshell works better than a hardshell for you asit will breathe better in cramped spaces.Do you bike or walk a lot? Given the amount of time you spend outdoors, asoftshell might get totally soaked; you should look for something waterproof,well-vented, and light.When you read garment descriptions, you’re going to see a lot of trademarklogos (®, ™) next to futuristic, made-up words.Many companies put a lot of effort into creating the fabrics and treatmentsthat go into techwear and trademark the subsequent creation. And a lot ofcompanies also just license a fabric or treatment technology and rebrand it.So you’ll see a lot of trademarked names from brands that you might not seeanywhere else. Look around the product maker’s website to see what their majorclaims for the product are.