When it comes to my go-to base layer, I'm getting close to becoming a merino wool fanatic. During these cold days of winter, the first item I grab for casual comfort—around the house and in the local dog-walking woods—has become a merino wool long underwear top. It's soft, warm, and the static factor is low, qualities my older polyester base layers struggle to match.
Merino wool is getting bigger all the time, as the Big Merino Sheep of Goulburn, Australia, can attest. Photo: MD111/Flickr
If you've not yet experienced the upsides of soft merino wool against your skin, there's probably a reason—the stuff is expensive; a long underwear top or bottom can easily run you more than $75. (The price certainly kept me away for years.)
So is it worth it? It depends on your base layer budget, outdoor clothing priorities...and whether you can find an option on sale (or perhaps put it on a future gift list). I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
Interested? Supporting a Northeast-based gear company might help you further rationalize it.
Minus33 is based in a historic mill in Ashland, New Hampshire, and specializes in merino wool base layers, hats, gloves, and other accessories. Their base layers are reasonably priced as merino wool goes—and many are named for landmarks in the White Mountains to boot, including the women’s Franconia Midweight Bottom and men’s Chocorua Midweight Crew.
Many styles are available in tall and extended sizes (6XL anyone?), a bonus for size large-tall people like myself, and there is also an online clearance section worth watching.
Other manufactures also offer can't-miss (though pricier) merino options. Smartwool is perhaps the best known (it's what I've been wearing), though Icebreaker, Patagonia, and L.L. Bean offer excellent options as well.
Support your Northeast gear companies! This post is part of an ongoing (though recently dormant) series on Northeast-based gear companies. Here are the 24 companies I've profiled to date: