TECH TIP: Merino Wool - close to skin really works
By: Bela G. Vadasz
In the 70's the best we had next to our skin and mid layers was wool. Yes, it kept you warm when it was wet but man did it take a long time to dry. Next came polypropylene, wicked moisture away, kept you dryer but man did it stink after a day. Capeline was much better for smelling less but still, on a 6 day trip, it got pretty rank! When you can't stand the smell of your partner, that's one thing, but when you can't stand yourself, that becomes a whole big problem!
New, Merino Wool is a high quality, super tough yarn that can be woven very, very thin making superb next-to-skin layers that are very thin and therefore can dry very quickly. This fiber comes from the bad ass, high mountain sheep of the New Zealand Alps, not wimpy, low land sheep. Instead it's from hardy animals that live in a harsh environment where they must stay warm in the winter yet cool in the summer. Just a thin layer next to your skin works. With today's technology, Merino Wool can be spun to create very fine yarn that makes a thin layer that is not itchy like old school wool.
A short sleeve thin to medium thin t-shirt is ideal. It truly works well year round and has become a mainstay workhorse for many experts in the mountains.
Then, depending on the wetness of the climate, the next layer could be a long sleeve zip-neck, synthetic if it's a very wet environment because it dries faster or Merino Wool, again depending on your preference.
Environmentally, it comes from a great renewable resource. The sheep get a haircut to produce the fiber to be spun into the yarn then grows the hair back to do it again, no harm, no foul and no oil to be refined into plastic yarn.
You can go days with much, much lower odor retention, warm when it's cold and wet, yet keeps you cool when it's warm.