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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    27

    wool as base layer: optimal weight? (merino vs synthetic)

    i know, silly question as it depends how cold etc. But as someone who has always used Capilene for snowboarding and now entering the snowshoes+board-on-the-backpack world, i am trying to reconsider my layering system, starting from the base layer. I understand that wool/merino doesnt stink as synthetic and it should breathe better. Does it really breathe and drys better and faster? I checked Smartwool and Icebreaker catalogues, and see they have different weights. What is considered to be the average-conditions optimal weight? as everyone else, i hate having a soaked baselayer.

    any suggestion is appreciated, thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    63
    For the baselayer I go super light t-shirt, like 150-160gms and then put another 200-260 on top - long sleeve or 1/4 zip. That has worked out the driest for me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Ogden
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    Synthetic dries faster and feels less clammy in use. And lasts twice as long. And costs half as much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Eburg
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorcar View Post
    I understand that wool/merino . . . should breathe better. Does it really breathe and drys better and faster?
    No, no and no. Thin wool baselayer is fine for cold temps, albeit fragile. Lightweight polyester will dry faster, quite a bit faster while wearing it. Wool is a bit warmer when damp.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    5
    Wool regulates temp. I tend to get hot and synthetic starts to get stifling when it heats up. For warmer temps or uphill, smartwool 150 is perfect as a base. For downhill, smartwool 250 is perfect as a base. And yes, wool doesn't stink so it's easy to get multiple days without offending everyone around you. I have a closet full of synthetic that now stays in the closet since I switched to wool.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    NWCT
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    2,008
    Iíve been loving the Patagonia capilene air this year. 50/50 merino/synthetic, no seams, no stink, warm, and crazy breathable. So choice.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    37N 122W
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    If you can get past the price tag (or still support bc.com/stoic) then get the thinnest long sleeve zip neck merino top you can find (usually 150 - 200 max). Start your layering system from there. If you need more, you can add synthetic on top - as others have said, cheaper, more durable, dries faster. Wool for next to skin is unmatched in my opinion. If you go above 200 weight, then it gets more expensive, dries more slowly and weighs more. Zip open the chest and roll up the sleeves and its almost as good as a T shirt when it's roasting or you're really working. Throw something like a 3-4oz wind shirt (eg Houdini) on over it and you'll be surprised how cold it can be while you're still comfortable and passing all your buddies stopping to switch out their heavy layers (bring a puffy for when you stop).
    "Kids today, all they talk about is big air. I say, stay on the mountain, that's where the action is. If you want big air, pull my finger." ~Smooth Johnson~

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Squaw valley
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    Quote Originally Posted by enginerd View Post
    If you can get past the price tag (or still support bc.com/stoic) then get the thinnest long sleeve zip neck merino top you can find (usually 150 - 200 max). Start your layering system from there. If you need more, you can add synthetic on top - as others have said, cheaper, more durable, dries faster. Wool for next to skin is unmatched in my opinion. If you go above 200 weight, then it gets more expensive, dries more slowly and weighs more. Zip open the chest and roll up the sleeves and its almost as good as a T shirt when it's roasting or you're really working. Throw something like a 3-4oz wind shirt (eg Houdini) on over it and you'll be surprised how cold it can be while you're still comfortable and passing all your buddies stopping to switch out their heavy layers (bring a puffy for when you stop).
    I switched from ice breaker because of durability, to an or wool synthetic combo

    It lasts a ton longer, doesn't smell and as far as I can tell works the same as pure wool

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Not Brooklyn
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    6,343
    There really isn't one answer to your question. The best base layer and layering strategy depends on your body, the weather and where you are skiing. You need to figure out what works for you over time.

    I run hot but don't sweat that much and mostly ski in dry, windy places. I rarely pull out my wool base layers because the synthetic stuff generally stays dry for me while wool can remain damp on my back under my pack. Damp wool can also irritates my skin. Picking the right weight for the weather is key for me. Sometimes I throw a couple in the car after reading the forecast, and pick the one that seems best at the trailhead.

    I will offer this to consider: Novice backcountry skiers are always futzing around with their clothes. Try to spend as little time and effort switching around your layers as possible while remaining comfortable most of the time. If you find yourself repeatedly stopping and taking things in and out of your pack and shuffling layers around, think about steps you could streamline or eliminate (such as putting your shell over your puffy).

    I have on a windbreaker (as enginerd mentioned) about 95% of the time in the winter and 50% of the time in the spring. I carry thin, cheap gloves/hat/buff I can easily stuff in my thigh pocket if I get too warm for them. If I'm cold I often put a breathable puffy over the windbreaker. I can add/remove a layer and tie it around my waist without fully removing my pack. 90% of the time that's all the clothes I need to think about. If I stop for some reason and it's cold I'll throw a big-ass down jacket over everything and put on some big gloves/mitts. On the majority of my days my softshell/hardshell (depending on weather) doesn't make it out of my pack. But I live in CO. If I moved to WA I'd probably do things quite differently. The point is, with a few items of clothing you can adjust on the move, you can stay comfortable over a range of temps without taking your pack off, wasting time and energy, and making people wait for you repeatedly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    27
    wow, thanks to everyone for your replies. I will check Patagonia new hybrid wool/synt. I see they do it only with hood and crewneck, no zipneck.
    As far as my current setting, i own Patagonia capilene, R1, fleece R3, then recently bought Arc Proton LT, and a shell which was on kickstarter, the Cortez/Cortazu in Dermizax EV. I also have a more classic fleece.
    What do you think I am missing?
    I usually wear the baselayer and the R1 under the jacket.
    What's the difference between what you experts call "windshirt" vs a classic hardshell? or you bring both with you?
    I guess my Proton is the breathable puffy? or am I wrong? then you also have an additional down jacket if i understand correctly?
    I must confess I am still confused by your adding the insulating jacket OVER the hardshell when you are cold

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,445
    Let's not forget silk. My silk base layers are the shit. Sierra Trading Post used to sell silk for the cheap.

    Who's the latest distributor?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
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    Wind shirt is very breathable, ski jacket laminated, like goretex is not.

    No reason to put the puffy under your jacket or wind shirt. Takes more time

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Whistler, BC
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorcar View Post
    wow, thanks to everyone for your replies. I will check Patagonia new hybrid wool/synt. I see they do it only with hood and crewneck, no zipneck.
    As far as my current setting, i own Patagonia capilene, R1, fleece R3, then recently bought Arc Proton LT, and a shell which was on kickstarter, the Cortez/Cortazu in Dermizax EV. I also have a more classic fleece.
    What do you think I am missing?
    I usually wear the baselayer and the R1 under the jacket.
    What's the difference between what you experts call "windshirt" vs a classic hardshell? or you bring both with you?
    I guess my Proton is the breathable puffy? or am I wrong? then you also have an additional down jacket if i understand correctly?
    I must confess I am still confused by your adding the insulating jacket OVER the hardshell when you are cold
    Your are missing a big ass belay jacket (down or synthetic puffy) and a cheap wind shirt then youíd be covered for all days skiing imo. I have that lot minus the R3 and itís all Iíd ever use.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Whelk View Post
    a more stupid motherfuck does not exist.
    Big Balls is worst asshat kind.
    kind that wear bukkake from above.
    with warm drown he gurgles final death, for one time not worried about his misplaced import known of african american social standing and prominent community members. for he is only drown, as is the way.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Rossland BC
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    FWIW, I donít heat up or sweat as much as many, and I donít and wonít use anything but Merino. The sensation of all day comfort against my skin is easily worth the high price and shorter life compared to plastic. I canít recommend these enough: https://www.icebreaker.com/en-ca/men...it/104359.html

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    63
    I sweat like itís my job and run very hot ó happy to run/skin in a t-shirt into the 20s ó and I wonít use anything but super light wool as my skin layer either.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    37N 122W
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    396
    FWIW, most of my ski partners and I would find 150 wool + R1 + Houdini to be WAY too hot for any kind of uphill in almost any weather. Much more versatile and following the ďlayer over the topĒ concept would be to do 150 wool + Houdini and then throw that arc proton over top of that when itís particularly cold. You could then pack your shell if youíre expecting rain or really wet snow (cold snow will be no issue with those layers) and add a big puffy for stops. Some people also like to carry a proper shell (or softshell) for the descent as generally they are more durable than a wind shirt like the Houdini.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    "Kids today, all they talk about is big air. I say, stay on the mountain, that's where the action is. If you want big air, pull my finger." ~Smooth Johnson~

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    27
    Quote Originally Posted by enginerd View Post
    FWIW, most of my ski partners and I would find 150 wool + R1 + Houdini to be WAY too hot for any kind of uphill in almost any weather. Much more versatile and following the ďlayer over the topĒ concept would be to do 150 wool + Houdini
    i would be freezing, when in the shadow waiting in line for anything.
    Reading you guys i wonder how big is your backpack: you seem to carry Proton+big puffy down+hardshell+softshell. I thought Proton is a sort of softshell.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Bottom feeding
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    7,529
    I'm pretty addicted to wearing a tight, mostly wool blend T-shirt next to my skin for almost any athletic activity now. There are a couple synthetic T-shirts that come close to what wool does in this application, but not many. The key is tight or complete contact to push sweat through to whatever is over it. My BC outfit is the wool T under a thin soft-shell for the climb, then if it's cold put the shells/puffy over.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    37N 122W
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    396
    Quote Originally Posted by lorcar View Post
    i would be freezing, when in the shadow waiting in line for anything.
    Reading you guys i wonder how big is your backpack: you seem to carry Proton+big puffy down+hardshell+softshell. I thought Proton is a sort of softshell.
    Good point. Some caveats here. First of all, this is for touring where youíre planning on keeping your heart rate up for a long time and arenít ever waiting in line. Second, for most days touring in California I only take base layer, wind shirt and a relatively light weight puffy (12-18oz total weight like arc neutrino or atom SV). The other layers only come along when itís cold or wet.

    Resort skiing is a completely different story on all of the above.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    "Kids today, all they talk about is big air. I say, stay on the mountain, that's where the action is. If you want big air, pull my finger." ~Smooth Johnson~

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
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    18,970
    IME a super light merino T-shirt is the only layer that needs to be wool CUZ it will be next to your skin where you need the anti stink capabilitiy of wool, a super light merino T will also be cheaper than heavier layers or layers with sleeves and when it gets the inevitable holes ... no biggy cuz its the base layer

    All yer other layers can be plastic in fact it can all be plastic if you will be near a washing machine

    I don't think merino is gona be warmer than plas tic, for what its worth I wore light merino tshirts and poly t-shirts in Cuba and Bali where it was fucking hot and i couldn't tell any difference

    My father used to wear wool T-shirts in Singapore which has even hotter weather, when he passed at age 84 I inherited his merino collection which was 5 brands of merino all with holes from extreme watching TV in his condo ... merino just doesnt hold up eh
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    2,178
    The difference in sunlight and sun angle between 37N (enginerd) and 46N (alps) makes a difference in Nov, dec, Jan, feb for warmth/layering. Also differences in geography can lead to lots more cold shadows.

    A warm jacket backup can be invaluable

    lightweight merino doesn’t hold up especially well, ime. Lightweight capilene/synthetic is almost indestructible, but can have odor issues. At least in the Us you can buy really cheap synthetic athleisure tees from target or the like that are as good as the old capilene was, at a fraction of patagucci pricing
    Last edited by dunfree ; 01-13-2020 at 03:52 PM.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    30,563
    Quote Originally Posted by lorcar View Post
    now entering the snowshoes+board-on-the-backpack world

    any suggestion is appreciated, thanks in advance
    Buy a split board.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
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    18,970
    Quote Originally Posted by lorcar View Post
    i would be freezing, when in the shadow waiting in line for anything.
    Reading you guys i wonder how big is your backpack: you seem to carry Proton+big puffy down+hardshell+softshell. I thought Proton is a sort of softshell.
    If yer ^^ freezing it means its time to put on the big fucking puffy

    For touring I start from the P-lot with a light puffy over a light soft shell ( Marmot neo shell or Patagucci R1) with a base layer, if its colder than -10C I will wear long johns and I will have the big fucking puffy, within 15 min I will feel like its getting too hot, before I sweat take the puffy off, make any other gear adjustments and carry on to the top, as soon as I stop to transition or eat lunch I put the puffy back on, if you are cold or sweating ... yer doing it wrong


    riding lifts I use an entirely different setup cuz I will just be sitting around most of the time ...
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    363
    Another vote for light merino, I really like the Smartwool PhD Ultralight shirt with 1/4 zipper. I don’t think they make it anymore though.

    Bottoms are harder for me, on warmer days touring I often just use merino boxer briefs and skip the base layer. On cold days I add 150 weight SmartWool 3/4 bottoms, but it is often too warm if I’m exerting myself.

    Curious about these as a base layer for the legs, for days with cold starts. Seems like a cool option to be able to remove the base layer on your legs mid tour without having to take your boots off. Pricey though...

    https://www.backcountry.com/northern...wool-pant-mens

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    27
    Quote Originally Posted by rob stokes View Post
    Your are missing a big ass belay jacket (down or synthetic puffy)
    which big ass/puffy jacket would you guys recommend? so far I have seen the Patag. Macro and Micro puff, but the Macro seems NOT so packable.
    Also, have you ever used UNIQLO products on the snow?

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