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View Full Version : Cold-weather base level shirt - can't do Merino. What else?



Cookerhiker
11-30-2017, 20:34
For a winter top-level base layer, I've concluded that Merino long-sleeved hiking shirts are not for me. Why? They cause itching on my arms, centered on the inside of the elbow and spreading up but mostly down the arm. I'm satisfied with their wicking capabilities, but I can't deal with the arm rash. I"m pretty sure that Merino is the culprit - the reaction is quite noticeable after a few hours and I haven't gotten the itches when wearing anything else.

Are there any alternatives to Merino that still wick well? On today's hike, I wore my long-sleeved Gander Guide shirt. It's nylon and polyester, wicks, is comfortable and perfectly adequate for a day hike, but I'd like something warmer.

I found some good info. on this thread (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/120090-Looking-for-a-new-t-shirt?highlight=Merino) but I'd like to hear more.

egilbe
11-30-2017, 20:58
Capilene baselayers, Techwick, polyester grid fleece are all good wicking layers.

gbolt
11-30-2017, 23:01
I use a short sleeve Ice breaker Tech Shirt (that contains some merino wool) however, I use a product called “sleeves”. It turns a short sleeve shirt into a long sleeve with easy adjustments made as core temp changes. A company you can check out is Sleefs. https://sleefs.com/collections/compression-arm-sleeves. It may help if it s mainly contact with the arms.

Franco
11-30-2017, 23:43
Merino wool comes in different grades. The finer the wool the lesser the itch.
A casual comment from a local producer ( standing next to one of his 15.5 micron bales...) was that most people don't suffer any itch at 17 microns or lower.
16 microns sells for about twice the cost of 22 microns. Anything below 22 is considered fine wool so often the price of the finished item can be a good indicator if you can't find the measurement.

iAmKrzys
12-02-2017, 01:11
I really wanted to like SmartWool but I hated the itching feeling on my skin. A friend recommended Uniqlo's Heattech long-sleeve base-layer shirts and I really love them - pleasant to touch, they dry up relatively quickly and don't smell bad after I sweat: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/men/innerwear/heattech/heattech

KDogg
12-02-2017, 01:23
I found patagonia merino to be itchy but icebreaker merino to be very soft. If you get a chance you might try a few different brands of merino. That said, patagonia capiline worked well for me too.

rocketsocks
12-02-2017, 11:09
I like merino over poly, really sucks it dry.

gbolt
12-02-2017, 20:02
I found patagonia merino to be itchy but icebreaker merino to be very soft. If you get a chance you might try a few different brands of merino. That said, patagonia capiline worked well for me too.

+1 Found the same thing to be true.

fiddlehead
12-02-2017, 20:14
I've found that merino wool itches for the first hour or so.
Then I don't feel it anymore.
IMO it doesn't keep me any warmer than polypro.
But it sure smells a lot better. Especially after a few days.

Polypropylene, polyester, capiline, all wick well and will do the job.
Buy what you can afford.
My capiline doesn't seem to keep me any warmer than the same weight in polypro.

Here's lightweight polypro for as low as $9.99 (with free shipping)
http://www.theunderwearguys.com/polypropylene-lightweight-tops-bottomsirr-p-175.html

Spirit Walker
12-02-2017, 22:16
Capilene is good. I had a Patagonia shirt that lasted for years. I wore polypro or capilene on all my thruhikes of the AT, PCT and CDT. When it was really cold, I got in my sleeping bag. When hiking, polypro was fine.

Tundracamper
12-02-2017, 22:42
I tried on a Merino baselayer shirt at a store and couldn't get it off fast enough. It felt like I was wearing a hay shirt. It was like a $70 top. How much does one of those "fine" wool shirts run?

sethd513
12-02-2017, 23:00
Below 25* I tend to hike in under armor base 4.0 grid fleece. Great with a soft shell pant and then adding layers up top to a full hard shell suit. Sometimes you can find them more then half off at marshals home goods tjmaxx, but I do feel like since the stp merg those places have no good deals that Iíve seen. They do seem
To run very very tight though.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Cheyou
12-03-2017, 07:13
https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/men/heattech-collection#ultrawarm

os sale often . Works for me

Time Zone
12-03-2017, 11:46
I have some older thin merino wool v-neck sweaters. Can one just wear one of those as a base layer? My other choices are polyester or poly/cotton blend.

DownEaster
12-03-2017, 11:59
I've got Weatherproof Thermafleece base layer pants for the AT; they're warm, soft, and lightweight. The shirts are tagless (http://www.cabelas.com/product/WEATHERPROOF-HEAT-LAST-THERMA-FLEECE-TOP/1869904.uts?productVariantId=3892853&WT.tsrc=PPC&WT.mc_id=GoogleProductAds&WT.z_mc_id1=03915046&rid=20&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsfSF15nu1wIVhV5-Ch2tcANoEAkYASABEgINJ_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds), which makes the chance they'll irritate your skin pretty much zero.

Franco
12-03-2017, 21:29
I was trying to point out that not all merino wool is the same. There are many grades so maybe worth trying another brand or type within a brand. You should be able to feel the difference just by handling the item.
The advantage of wool is that it does not smell after several days of use, it remains warm when wet (even exposed to the wind) and is fire retardant.
I have purchased some soft merino T (about $25 USD) from Aldi, a German supermarket chain that we also have here in Australia. So I would try some hose brands to see what they are like. Icebreaker 200 is already coarser than those.

kestral
12-04-2017, 18:21
Agree all Marino wool is not the same. My son has psoriasis and has a problem with many fabrics. I got him the cresta Marino wool mid weight base layer from LL Bean, and it is his favorite, both top and bottom. He can wear it during an outbreak and it calms his skin. LL Bean has a great return policy if the product doesn’t work out. Pricy, but it will last for many years, toss in washer when needed, doesn’t shrink, looks good, has thumb holes in nice long sleeves, and it’s long enough to not ride up over the butt. He wore it next to skin during cold nights and it made all the difference. I like the quarter zip, they have a crew neck option. https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/65661?page=cresta-wool-midweight-250-base-layer-quarter-zip&csp=a&feat=65660-item_page.t_recsmiddle

They also have a pretty woman’s patern this year which I would get for myself but I just don’t need a third wool sweater in Florida :)

Cookerhiker
12-04-2017, 18:36
Thanks everyone for the good advice! Looks like lots of options, all field-tested;)

Jayne
01-04-2018, 13:53
There are a lot of different merino wool grades and I have tried many different manufacturers. I think the ones from Kuiu are the nicest. Good sticthing and they are the least itchy (but they're not cheap.) Polypro works great and it's cheap but it gets so rank I can't even stand my own smell.

Vanhalo
01-04-2018, 14:12
For a winter top-level base layer, I've concluded that Merino long-sleeved hiking shirts are not for me. Why? They cause itching on my arms, centered on the inside of the elbow and spreading up but mostly down the arm. I'm satisfied with their wicking capabilities, but I can't deal with the arm rash. I"m pretty sure that Merino is the culprit - the reaction is quite noticeable after a few hours and I haven't gotten the itches when wearing anything else.

Are there any alternatives to Merino that still wick well? On today's hike, I wore my long-sleeved Gander Guide shirt. It's nylon and polyester, wicks, is comfortable and perfectly adequate for a day hike, but I'd like something warmer.

I found some good info. on this thread (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/120090-Looking-for-a-new-t-shirt?highlight=Merino) but I'd like to hear more.

Smartwool NTS Micro 150 is my favorite shirt.

41462

Tipi Walter
01-04-2018, 15:22
The solution to itchy wool (even capilene gets itchy) is to wear a long-sleeve silk baselayer against the skin. Once silk is used you can wear anything you want over it.

Ethesis
01-04-2018, 15:27
Capilene is good. I had a Patagonia shirt that lasted for years. I wore polypro or capilene on all my thruhikes of the AT, PCT and CDT. When it was really cold, I got in my sleeping bag. When hiking, polypro was fine.


Thanks for the comment v

Dogwood
01-05-2018, 14:34
There still is the mis-perception there are only two choices when it comes to apparel fabrics and insulation - synthetic or natural(wool, down, etc). For instance, it's Capilene or merino. Several merino clothing manufacturers, one being Patagonia for example, combine Capilene with merino in their merino shirts having attributes of increased durability, less fastidious laundering, very good odor resistance, and a softer feel against the skin. http://www.patagonia.com/merino-wool-baselayer.html


Another company that does this is Turtle Fur in their beanies. They mix a 50/50 premium merino with acrylic making for an "itchless" beanie.


The Primaloft Gold Series does this too not only having a merino/synthetic blend but also a down/synthetic blend.
http://www.primaloft.com/insulation

So, don't fall into that either/or - merino or synthetic shirt - duality. You have other options that might very well offer itchless relief.