To get the optimal protection and comfort for outdoor activities, layered clothing is very important (especially during cold weather). A base layer is the first layer that you put on, so the materials used to make it play a very significant role – it needs to be soft, comfy, breathable, and keep you dry.
Merino wool is a natural material that offers exactly this. It’s extremely efficient at wicking away moisture, so you aren’t sweaty even during intense activity. It warms you when you’re cold, but also has great breathability to regulate temperature when you feel too warm. Furthermore, thanks to its anti-bacterial properties, it’s naturally odor-resistant, so your shirt won’t get smelly fast.
While it’s definitely the best choice for a base layer, there are still significant differences among different Merino Wool garments – fabric weight, fiber quality, blends with other materials, extra features, and many more. To help you find a Merino wool base layer for your type of activity, we’ve created a buying guide where we discuss all of this in detail. But first, take a look at some great products we picked out for you.
How To Choose A Merino Wool Base Layer – Buying Guide
To get the most out of your new base layer, there are a few things you need to think about, which we’ll discuss in this guide. A high-quality Merino base layer is worth the investment, even though its costlier than the alternatives. You’ll immediately see the difference when layering for skiing, going on cold weather hikes, or any other activity where staying dry and warm is important.
Material and Performance
Merino wool is high-quality wool that comes from Merino sheep. It’s extra-fine and feels incredibly soft on the skin (much softer than your regular wool), making it a great choice for clothing. But the best things about this material are its natural moisture-wicking abilities.
The fibers of Merino wool are excellent at removing the sweat from your body and letting it evaporate, keeping you dry the whole time. As we mentioned earlier, it has natural odor regulation too. Unlike other materials, Merino wool doesn’t get smelly even if you sweat profusely. This not only makes it more pleasant to wear but also means you don’t have to wash it as often.
While all of the models in our Merino wool base layer reviews are made of 100% Merino wool, this is not the only option. You’ll come across shirts and other clothing that use a blend of materials, which can be a good thing (to a certain degree). Materials like nylon, polyester, and polyamide are used to increase shirt strength, while elastane is used to make it more elastic.
As you know, a Merino wool base layer can be pretty expensive, so mixing it with other materials reduces the price and makes it more affordable too. However, make sure that the garment you buy has a high percentage of Merino wool, otherwise it won’t have the same performance and fabric properties.
It’s these fabric properties that make it ideal for clothing. It’s used not only to make the best Merino wool base layers, but also for making ski socks, thermal underwear, and other garments. Finally, we want to add that this material is easily bio-degradable, making it very eco-friendly too.
Wool Weight and Warmth
Wool weight is a factor that ultimately determines how warm your base layer is going to be. The number represents the weight in grams over a square meter of fabric. This number ranges anywhere from under 150 g/m2 (ultralight), to over 250 g/m2 (heavyweight).
Lighter wool is a fantastic choice to make a Merino wool base layer for hiking, which is especially useful during summertime. It wicks away sweat and allows your skin to breathe making sure you feel comfortable. Midweight wool (200-250 g/m2) is generally used to make a Merino wool base layer for skiing. It offers a good degree of warmth too but isn’t too warm because your body generates a lot of heat during this intense activity. Finally, heavyweight wool works great as a Merino wool base layer for hunting, ice fishing, and other cold weather activities where you’re static (because it offers top-level warmth).
In general, Merino wool is an excellent temperature regulator that has the ability to keep you warm when you’re cold and to allow your skin to breathe when you’re warm. One of the best things about it is that it stays warm even if it gets wet (rain, snow), which is very important in freezing temperatures.
As we mentioned earlier, Merino wool is a super soft material that feels great on the skin. Unlike standard wool, it won’t scratch you, chafe your skin, or cause irritation. The secret behind this is how fine the wool fibers are. This is measured in microns, where a smaller number represents finer wool.
This number usually ranges from 17 to 24, and most of the products we featured have around 18 (meaning they are very soft). In addition to comfort, this type of fabric also gives the base layer excellent flexibility. Furthermore, the best Merino base layers come without a tag to scratch your neck and have flatlock seams that don’t rub on your skin when wearing the shirt.
Size and Fit
Since we’re talking about base layers, they usually have a slim and snug fit on your body. This is important for the function of the base layer since it needs to be close to the body to wick sweat effectively. Most manufacturers provide a sizing and measurement chart on their product page, and you should make sure you get a base layer that is neither too big nor too small (they are prone to stretching).
An additional benefit of Merino wool base layers is that they are pretty light and thin, so they won’t make you feel bulky when you put a few layers over them. Also, they are pretty compact too, so you can always carry a spare piece in your backpack without adding too much weight.
Some of the models we talked about come with additional features that make wearing them even more convenient. For example, an elastic cuff will fit perfectly around your wrist and prevent sleeves from sliding when you’re putting a something over it. It’s even better if it comes with thumb holes because they keep sleeves in place and add extra warmth to your hands.
We also want to mention the UPF protection that comes with Merino wool clothing. Thanks to the natural characteristics of the fibers, these base layers are able to absorb harmful UV rays and protect your skin from them (a big plus if you’re wearing a Merino wool shirt as the only layer). Finally, unlike synthetic materials, they are very resistant to burning and melting.
Washing and Durability
Perhaps the only downside of Merino wool is its sensitivity. 100% Merino wool garments are less durable than synthetics, and will deteriorate pretty quickly if you don’t take care of them. This is why washing and drying them carefully is very important if you want to prolong their lifespan.
While most manufacturers will say their clothing is safe for machine washing and drying, you need to be very careful with that. You should only wash them in cold water and on a gentle cycle, otherwise the garment might shrink or get small tears. For best results, they should be hand-washed in cold water and then put on a flat surface to dry (might stretch if hanged).
It’s always the best idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you want to get the most out of your piece of clothing. The fact that it doesn’t retain smell means that you can wash it less frequently, which contributes to durability (in a way). But don’t let all of this scare you – the best Merino base layers can last for many years and serve you really well. Furthermore, many manufacturers give you a nice warranty with the purchase, so you have nothing to worry about.
Q: Why Is Wearing A Base Layer Important?
A base layer is a layer that comes directly in touch with your body, and its main purpose is to keep you dry and warm. It wicks away moisture so you aren’t sweaty, and keeping dry allows you to warm up more easily. As we said, Merino wool is the best choice for this because its moisture-wicking properties and breathability can’t be matched by any synthetics. Also, the best Merino wool base layers offer fantastic comfort and don’t chafe your skin.
Q: How Does Layering Your Clothes Improve Performance?
Having multiple layers (instead of a single bulky one) has numerous advantages in terms of comfort and performance. Each layer has its own purpose – the base layer wicks sweat and keeps you dry, the mid-layer insulates you and keeps you warm, while the outer layer (usually a hardshell or a winter jacket) protects you from wind, rain, and snow. This setup allows you to move more easily during your activity and gives you the freedom to remove any of the layers when and if you don’t need them.
Q: Why Shouldn’t I Just Use Cotton?
As a base layer, cotton has a serious flaw. Instead of wicking away moisture and keeping you dry, cotton soaks the moisture in. This means that it becomes pretty wet if you sweat a lot, which is especially problematic during cold weather activities. A wet layer of clothing becomes cold quickly and then it takes away heat from your body, which can be very dangerous in freezing temperatures. Also, when you compare cotton and Merino wool, cotton doesn’t smell very pleasant when you start sweating and becomes heavier when wet.
Q: Why Is Merino Wool The Best Choice For A Base Layer?
As we pointed out in the text, Merino wool is the best material to eliminate moisture and keep your skin dry throughout the activity. Of course, it helps keep you warm too. Unlike cotton, it stays warm and insulating even if it gets wet. Furthermore, the best Merino base layers are incredibly comfy and won’t irritate the skin no matter how long you wear them. This is why they are an excellent choice when thinking about what to wear hiking or skiing.
Globo Surf Overview
Proper clothing is one of the essential things you need to think about when planning outdoor activities, especially during cold weather. As you had the chance to see, a good base layer is one of the centerpieces, because it’s responsible for keeping you dry and warm.
Merino wool excels at these tasks, which is why you should consider putting it on your skiing checklist. The models we featured are great in every aspect, and we hope you now have enough information to easily find the one that suits you best.