School me on Merino Wool t-shirts

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paulnb57

Full Member
Nov 18, 2007
428
2
Isle of Wight
So, Autumn, Winter and Spring, I generally wear a cotton t-shirt as a base layer, would I be better of with Merino Wool?
Would a Merino Wool T-shirt be too warm when hiking in Summer under a thin shirt?

Any opinions appreciated

Paul
 

paulnb57

Full Member
Nov 18, 2007
428
2
Isle of Wight
I bought a few "plastic" underlayer t-shirts from mountain warehouse last year, bloody awful, theyve just gone to the charity shop.....for the price i could have had a couple of Merinos......so yes they may be more expensive, but if they get used.....hence the question......
 

ebt.

Nomad
Mar 20, 2012
262
0
Brighton, UK
Depends how warm you run, but I couldnt wear anything under a shirt in summer.....I'd be a sweaty mess. I find my merino t-shirts warmer than cotton.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,170
190
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Just bought my first item of Merino baselayer from Aldi today, cost just under a tenner. To be totally honest though I've been getting on absolutely fine with the Trojan baselayer (unknown synthetic fabric) T shirt I bought from Arco a while ago and doubt its going to be an improvement.

If its even close to being as nice as the Trojan thing from Arco then I think it will be doing well.

I'm not precious about a fabrics provenance, it either works or it doesn't.
 

legin

Tenderfoot
Nov 30, 2009
83
0
Spalding
I'm a wool convert. I've got a couple of Smartwool 'T' shirts for summer months and a couple of long sleeved vests for autumn to spring that go under a Craghoppers top. I also have one thicker Smartwool long sleeved "grandpa" button neck vest for when it really gets chilly. As has been said, I find wool is cooler in summer and warmer n winter and doesn't niff after a few days camping without access to a shower. Wool may be dearer than cotton to buy but the value for money in comfort is there.
 

rg598

Native
I personally don't like wool because it dries too slowly. It's not a huge issue when we are talking about a thin t-shirt though, so it shouldn't be a huge deal. In summer, you are not going to get the instant cooling effect that you get from a synthetic t-shirt because the evaporation time is spread out over a longer period. That can actually be a good thing. In winter, when it's harder to dry out clothing, I prefer synthetic base layers because they dry faster. Cotton is probably not that great of a choice. For the money I would rather go with a simple synthetic t-shirt. If you have the extra money, then you can play around with wool and synthetic shirts and see what suits you better.
 

Quixoticgeek

Full Member
Aug 4, 2013
2,476
5
Europe
I am a complete Merino convert. I got a RAB MECO baselayer earlier in the winter, even with a week's worth of sweaty biking, there is no odour. Sure it doesn't dry as quickly as some tops, but it's fast enough, and the lack of pong makes up for this. Two Merino base layers is enough to last pretty much indefinitely on a wear one, wash one system.

Julia
 

paulnb57

Full Member
Nov 18, 2007
428
2
Isle of Wight
Thanks for the replies folks, now the Easter Holoday traffic and shop opening times are back to normal, I feel a trip to Aldi to see if they have any left, probably too small for me though, but I'll shop around and give it a go....

Paul
 

Limaed

Full Member
Apr 11, 2006
1,208
32
44
Perth & Anglesey
I agree with Ross that wool base layers are slower to dry and they are also less durable. I've had a couple of merino tops that have worn out in a few seasons although not all synthetic base layers last either. That said they feel nice to wear and seem to regulate temperature better than synthetic. You sometimes get good value merino kit in TK Maxx.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,170
190
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You know everyone says that Merino doesn't retain smells? Oh really...

Sweat? Maybe but after my daughter was using the hose on her car and splashed me with it today (totally on purpose, the cheeky monkey) I noticed that my new Merino t shirt from Aldi started to smell like a wet Swaledale ewe.
Lanolin type smell.

Yeah, great.
 

Quixoticgeek

Full Member
Aug 4, 2013
2,476
5
Europe
You know everyone says that Merino doesn't retain smells? Oh really...

Sweat? Maybe but after my daughter was using the hose on her car and splashed me with it today (totally on purpose, the cheeky monkey) I noticed that my new Merino t shirt from Aldi started to smell like a wet Swaledale ewe.
Lanolin type smell.

Yeah, great.
I've not had a water fight with your daughter (to my knowledge). So I can't comment on this specific case, but I can say that I've worn my MECO top for 2 weeks and not been able to noticeably smell a pong on it, Where as a day with any of my synthetic tops and I tend to not want to be in the same time zone...

Obviously, YMMV, and you pays your money and take your choice.

J
 

rg598

Native
The smell thing is interesting. I suppose it's different for different people. I know some people swear that wool doesn't smell for them, for others it does. For me neither wool nor synthetic shirts smell under normal outdoor use. If I'm out long enough, both smell.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,170
190
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@demographic how are the Aldi sizes?
Generous on the T shirt.

I'm normally on the cusp of large to XL so I bought XL and its too big really.
If I buy another it would be a large.

I've lived on a hillfarm for long enough to know what sheep smell like and I put this shirt clean on this morning, an hour later on my daughter fired a bit of water over me and I started to wonder where the hell the lanolin smell was coming from.

It was my T shirt, not that big an issue and when it dried out the smell went away as well but there's no doubt that it smelled like a wet sheep. Now I don't sweat lanolin so its deffo from the shirt.
 

Corso

Full Member
Aug 13, 2007
4,743
196
none
for me woolpower are without question the best, needs to be cold mind as they work too well
 

cbr6fs

Native
Mar 30, 2011
1,620
0
Athens, Greece
I personally don't like wool because it dries too slowly. It's not a huge issue when we are talking about a thin t-shirt though, so it shouldn't be a huge deal. In summer, you are not going to get the instant cooling effect that you get from a synthetic t-shirt because the evaporation time is spread out over a longer period. That can actually be a good thing. In winter, when it's harder to dry out clothing, I prefer synthetic base layers because they dry faster. Cotton is probably not that great of a choice. For the money I would rather go with a simple synthetic t-shirt. If you have the extra money, then you can play around with wool and synthetic shirts and see what suits you better.
+1

Merino sheep farmers must have the best advertising execs in the world, it seems to have made it into the main stay of most activities now, even ones where it's really not suited.

In my experience Merino is great for low level activities, once you start getting to higher levels of activity though it's a terrible choice.
Plus, although it makes good material for pullovers for low activity levels it's by far the worst material i can imagine using for areas where we sweat a lot like socks and underwear.

The problem is the material just doesn't wick, so you end up sweating say under your arms and instead of that sweat spreading out over a larger surface area to aid evaporation, it just stays where it is and gets wetter and wetter from sweat.

To the point where i've had some toes that looked like dried prunes from the sweat to others that were as dry as a bone.

The thinner the merino the less of a problem it becomes BUT once you start getting below 260wt longevity really starts to become a problem.


There are some interesting material mixtures around these days but still if it's warm and dry i wear cotton tops, if it's wet and cold i'll wear synthetic for high level activities like hill walking, running and MTBing.
 

cranmere

Settler
Mar 7, 2014
992
1
Somerset, England
I like merino in cold weather, but there is merino and merino, in a manner of speaking. A cheap one I bought really isn't as good as the Rab one, the Rab wicks better, is softer, and is generally nicer to wear. Aldi's stuff is usually surprisingly good although I haven't tried theirs. Kathmandu have their own brand and those are pretty good too especially if you can catch them when they are having a sale ;)