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Thread: Merino question

  1. #1
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    Default Merino question

    I've been looking at a number of sources for merino base layers and socks. Having little experience with merino, I was wondering if you're better off with pure, 100% merino, or a blend of merino and synthetic. I've seen a wide range of blends, from 100% merino to these trail socks from Minus33 that are 57% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 11% Stretch Nylon, 3% Spandex. It seems to me that a bit of synthetic would add some toughness to the merino and perhaps help prevent stretching, sagging, and so on, but it also seems as if that would perhaps reduce the odor fighting effectiveness. I'd love to hear from those with a lot of merino experience as to what they feel is the appropriate blend, or if 100% merino is better. Also, would you stick with the same blend for both socks and base layers? Finally, through a friend, I can get a deal on Icebreaker and Minus33 products... any opinion which of those two is superior? Thanks!

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    Not sure on blends, I LOVE Icebreaker tee shirts, amazing "base layer"...........low/no stink, washes out easily in the field, fine at 100 degrees or 10 degrees, layer on top as needed, great gear

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    Icebreaker is my #1 brand for merino wool. I use the 150 wt. long sleeve half-zip Icebreaker Relay top for most 3-season hiking, and in hot weather you could use the 150 wt. Tech T short sleeve shirts, or a synthetic tee. The Icebreaker Hike Lite Mini or Hike Lite Crew merino socks are great hiking socks for all 3 season hiking. For colder winter hiking you could go with the 200 or 260 wt. merino wool. Ibex and Patagonia also make some decent merino wool baselayer products. I'm not familiar with Minus33. Most all the Icebreaker merino wool baselayers and socks use a merino/synthetic blend.

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    Thru hiker pistol p's Avatar
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    Socks...Darn Tough and Fit socks are good blends. Smartwool has went down the toilet in quality, as of late. Plus, Darn Tough has a lifetime, free replacement warranty.
    2013 AT NOBO - 03/13/13 to 08/14/13

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    Merino is the way to go. I've worn my Smartwool baselayer for 4-5 days during winter trips and a few of those days I did sweat quite a bit. While the shirt was pretty damp I just wore it dry while doing supper and other things. By bed time it was dry. At the end of the trip I still could smell the Ivory Snow powder I'd washed it in. As for the blended wool I don't think that 10% or less will have any effect on it's qualities and may help it last longer. I'd stay with Smartwool or Icebreaker, I own several of each and wear them around the house in the winter.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    Merino is awesome. I suffered through a couple hunting seasons with under armour and luckily got i introduced to merino last winter and it was 10x better

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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    My Icebreaker merino shirts are some of the SHWEETEST shirts I own PERIOD. I LOVE their GT UL and Sonic UL 1/2 zip tees. $$$. Their zipless Oasis tees hold up better than the GT UL 1/2 zips though of which I only have one left and may have been discontinued. I have several of IB's long sleeved 1/2 zip merino tops from their 150 Ultralight Sonic, 200 light wt, to the 260 mid wt wguich I mix/match/use as base, mid, and top layers. Athletic fit! Although some of these long sleeved 1/2 zips have put a serious dent in my checking acct I consider them a bargain considering the range of use and durability I receive. I live in merino shirts practically year round. I have a few Minus 33 merino long sleeved 1/4 zip torso pieces and two of their thermal bottoms(in different wts) that have some of the softest hand as far as all my merino pieces. What I like about Minus 33 also is the price. All my Minus 33 merino I bought on clearance at what I consider is a steal for that level of a merino piece. If you are getting a discount and want to spurge on the best(one of the best) go with some IB pieces though. IBEX makes some killer merino pieces as well. Most merino socks are not 100% merino. I look for a higher % of merino and heavier wt in a sock as it starts getting colder and wetter and when I desire more cushioning although I almost exclusively hike in merino socks but of what I think appropriate wt w/ other yarns added in as conditions dictate. In my use it helps durability in a merino sock by adding other yarns/materials.

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    I considered my Icebreaker shirt to be one of my favorite pieces of gear.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pistol p View Post
    Socks...Darn Tough and Fit socks are good blends. Smartwool has went down the toilet in quality, as of late. Plus, Darn Tough has a lifetime, free replacement warranty.
    I've been using Smartwool socks and zipless feather light and light wt tees ALOT in the past 6 yrs but I'm starting to get the same idea as far as Smartwool's durability! I can't say 100% why though I feel like I'm getting less durability lately. Still like the hand, fit, breathability, looks, etc of my Smartwool light wt tees though

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    I'd check Steep&Cheap's Gear cache for good buys on Smartwool and Icebreaker. I got most of mine there. All of my synthetic junk is in the work clothes closet. BTW I once met a hiker, during cooler weather, who was wearing 3 synthetic baselayers and a jacket and was still cold. I was wearing 1 Smartwool and a Marmot Dri-Clime jacket and was toasty...
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    I just checked S&C's gear cache and they have several Smartwool and Icebreaker tops for less than $50.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    You definitely don't need to spend $50+ on a merino tee shirt. I bought a few 100% merino GoLite tees for example at a GoLite outlet in Boulder CO for $24 each. Found a Smartwool light wt tee at a gear consignment shop in Silverthorne CO for $16. At the Patagonia Outlet in Breck(of all places) I scored two 65% Merino 35% Capilene(polyester) Merino 1 Silk wt tees for $48 total.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    You definitely don't need to spend $50+ on a merino tee shirt. I bought a few 100% merino GoLite tees for example at a GoLite outlet in Boulder CO for $24 each. Found a Smartwool light wt tee at a gear consignment shop in Silverthorne CO for $16. At the Patagonia Outlet in Breck(of all places) I scored two 65% Merino 35% Capilene(polyester) Merino 1 Silk wt tees for $48 total.
    I know you had a couple for sale a while back, I guess I missed the boat on those, but have since bought a couple from another white blaze member. They do come up for sale every now and again...good stuff that Merino Wool...I'm sold, and in hot sweaty weather too.

  14. #14
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    I wear a smartwool 100% mid layer. The Med. weight I also have, might even be light I'm still experimenting with., got both from Campmor. Almost all my socks on and off trail have a % of wool. Not a huge fan of Darn tough.

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    This thread lead me to order three more shirts from Icebreaker.

    Thanks
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    Sox should be around 80-90% merino. I wear the cheap Costco knock offs daily, Smartwool for winter activities. I believe my Smartwool base layers are nearly all merino, and I like them.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Even when soaking wet, after, say, you wash your tee in a stream or it got rained on while hanging on the line during the night, it's warm when you put it on after about 3 seconds.

    Merino tees are my only choice.

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    Maybe someone should start a Facebook page for merino fans......
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    For warmer temps and socks in general, most prefer a blend.
    In the very lightest layers, durability is improved with little loss of the other benefits. I personally like the Merino 1 blend (Roughly 30% capilene, 70% Merino), Rab and Icebreaker are also popular.
    Keep in mind that Merino's drawback is that it will stretch during wear, while this expansion is quickly corrected by a wash and dry, over a few days you will often find a 100% piece start to feel a size too big. Adding in a light blend of synthetic helps stabilize the weave and increases abrasion resistance.
    When the clothing itself is thicker, the Merino is durable enough by itself, although still prone to size creep.

    I agree with most folks on Smartwool, what was once the best seems to have fallen off in recent years, and the customer support is less than stellar to non-existant.
    I am very happy with Darn Tuff which hovers around 50% merino depending on the exact sock. You don't want your socks to get sloppy, so other than for very cold temps it makes little sense to go 100% merino imo. I think a lot depends on your mileage and time on your feet.

    In true heat, Merino is superior in that you can rinse it and it will hold the cool better. As mentioned above, it is easy to wash and wear dry even in cool temps- the western boys love it because it prevents flash cooling.
    The old adage regarding wool; warm when cold, cool when hot still holds true. Merino is simply wool that doesn't itch like sand fly's.

    I have found Patagonia, Darn Tuff, and Icebreaker socks at TJ Maxx. All are quality pieces.
    The last few pairs of Smartwool I've had have all failed in under 100 miles, one pair I purchased at NOC developed a hole in the ball of the foot in a day and a half (about 40 miles). No remedy, no replacement- I'm done with them.
    It also appears they have gone with a cheaper manufacturing process in the toe that leaves a lumpier finish on both sides of the toe box.

  20. #20

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    Icebreaker.

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