Base Layer..... Merino bs Synthetics

Buckhorn 70

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Jan 16, 2015
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Looking for knowledge/info on using Merino Vs Synthetic for a next to skin base layer? Pros/Cons to each?

What layer would you put over that next to skin layer? Do you stack Merino layers upon one another? Synthetic over Merino or vica versa?

thx
 

Bob6180

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I personally find that the merino is better for wicking and helps pull the sink off my body. I find that I REEK after a good hike with synthetics... but that's my BO :LOL:
 

Muddler

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I've pretty much switched to all merino as well. I have the same problem with synthetics stinking too. Seems like after 20 minutes of wearing them they smell horrid. I think merino wicks and dries faster too.
 

Coldtrail

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For active hunts I find merino base layers to be the best and has a much lower stink/sweat factor, I'm kind of a traditionalist, but wear a merino base that has a thin hood, with 100% wool button up shirt over that. I've worn that combo for a very unsanitary amount of days in a row with the only "laundry" being airing/drying them out. The synthetic stuff is one day wear in my opinion....or I'm just not throwing enough coin down for something that matches merino?
 

Planopurist

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Merino - warm, cool, soft, and above all doesn’t stink.


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5MilesBack

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I wear synthetic over merino. That's the most comfortable option I've found for me.....especially when I'm in full sweat mode.....i.e. elk hunting.
 

briscoetab

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If you listen to podcast download a couple with John Barklow (he works for Sitka and manages the big game line) he explains synthetic vs merino in depth and even though the podcast are 1-2 hours I found it pretty interesting. He has been on Kifarucast several times, Stickbow chronicles a couple time and Eastmans’ elevated. I think on all of them he talks about the merino vs synthetic and points out a few things that make sense that I did not know.
 

Poser

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I use merino exclusively as baselayers for everything in the mountains, however, it doesn’t dry very quickly.
 

PredatorX

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In my opinion the answer lies in between those two choices. A hybrid like aerowool is what I'd recommend. Mostly meeino but has some synthetics in it. In my wilkin, it dries super fast and can wear it for a week without the stench.

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1shotgear

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There are benefits to both. Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial which helps with scent management. Merino also will maintain it's warmth value when wet. Merino wool DOES NOT WICK, it absorbs. This means that the wool will pull the moisture off of your skin, but it will hold it in the garment. Synthetic base layers will actually wick moisture off of your skin, meaning that the sweat will be pulled off your body, spread out through the base layer and moved to the outside of the garment until the garment is dry. Synthetic base layers dry much faster than merino. Some base layers such as Sitka's Core Lightweight series are treated with Polygene which aides in scent management. Synthetic base layers will lose warmth value when they become wet.
 

Tbone58

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I use all merino wool. It’s warmer softer and doesn’t smell. Synthetics are suppose to dry faster and be lighter then wool but the merino dries fast enough for me. It’s all personal preference. I would go with merino
 

doverpack12

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I transitioned to Merino around 2010-11 from cheap cotton camo shirts and stuck with it until a few years ago when I decided it really didn’t work that well all the time for me. Any cold hunt I wear synthetic short sleeve tee as my base either KUIU Peloton 118 or Sitka core lightweight. I shave my armpits and don’t stink after multiple days. I even prefer the synthetics most of the time just because I’m not constantly wet and I find I’m much drier and warmer. Wool may still hold some heat when wet but if that wet is cold and pushed against you by wind you will be cold even with a wind blocking layer. I do still wear Merino but I find I prefer synthetic if I try them back to back days with similar conditions. Aero wool works better than Merino and I felt mine performed excellent for 30-40 washings and then kind of lost its elasticity and became less effective at drying quickly. If you wear synthetic I think polygene treatment is key and minimal body hair, I’ve had Merino stink just as fast because my armpits stunk so to me it’s more about hygiene and eliminating your body hair that holds moisture and allows bacteria to grow causing you to stink. As a bonus synthetic shirts are much lighter and you can almost carry a spare at the same weight as a single Merino shirt. I layer Peloton 97 or 240 hoody’s over my synthetic shirt sleeve and if it’s frigid then an axis jacket and synthetic vest under if moving. Chamberlain/Ghar depending on the timeframe when I stop to eat, rest or glass.
 

bojangles808

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In my opinion the answer lies in between those two choices. A hybrid like aerowool is what I'd recommend. Mostly meeino but has some synthetics in it. In my wilkin, it dries super fast and can wear it for a week without the stench.

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yea the merino synthetic blends are kinda the best of both worlds. i like synthetics for hot weather day hunting but for backpacking i like the aerowool blend too. dries a lot faster than 100% merino and a little more comfortable while still not getting funky like the synthetics
 

Trial153

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I went all merino for base layer awhile back. Quite honestly I don't think they work as well as some of todays Synthetic base layers. I find Synthetic warmer for the weight, breath better and dry out faster. The treated layers manage the stink fairly well also. When I do go merino, its limited to light weight base, the heavy weight are way to heavy for the warmth and performance. Last point is stacking merino, light to heavy .....this is an epic fail, heavy and stays wet. Doesn't wick at all.

If I went all Synthetic all the time at this point it wouldn't bother me at all.
 

Jauwater

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I went all merino for base layer awhile back. Quite honestly I don't think they work as well as some of todays Synthetic base layers. I find Synthetic warmer for the weight, breath better and dry out faster. The treated layers manage the stink fairly well also. When I do go merino, its limited to light weight base, the heavy weight are way to heavy for the warmth and performance. Last point is stacking merino, light to heavy .....this is an epic fail, heavy and stays wet. Doesn't wick at all.

If I went all Synthetic all the time at this point it wouldn't bother me at all.
^^^^^^This has been my experience with merino as well. Merino feels nice wearing around the house.

In regards to Merino "insulating when wet", doesn't this have to do with the speed in which the fabric dries? Fact being wool dries slower, so less cooling against the skin? Serious question here, feel like I heard that somewhere, but honestly not remembering the facts.

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briscoetab

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You are
^^^^^^This has been my experience with merino as well. Merino feels nice wearing around the house.

In regards to Merino "insulating when wet", doesn't this have to do with the speed in which the fabric dries? Fact being wool dries slower, so less cooling against the skin? Serious question here, feel like I heard that somewhere, but honestly not remembering the facts.

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You are correct I think (no personal experience with comparing). According to John Barklow the Sitka big game line manager, which I referenceD earlier because I have listened to him on several podcast and he explains merino vs synthetic better than anything I’ve heard.

The good synthetics move the moisture away from your skin so fast that you can feel slightly cool/cold for a short period of time do to an evaporative type cooling process but it only last a short period of time. You can help negate those effects by adding a puffy as soon as you stop.

With merino you will stay warmer when you sweat but you will stay wet for much longer. So if you don’t mind being wet/damp then go merino but you can stay just as warm with the synthetics.

You can also add a synthetic over the merino which will help pull the moisture from the merino to the outer layers some.

Personally, as of now I have all merino base layers but they are just next to skin and very light, I add synthetic on top if needed . I am looking at trying synthetics as next to skin/base layer but haven’t yet.
 

GunsAreFun

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I can’t wear merino shirts. They itch me. Don’t know why. I’ve tried probably a dozen brands including hybrids.

I’m pretty much exclusively a Sitka Core Lightweight user as well as the Cabelas Lightweight tech shirt. Both have the polygiene treatment, which I have found to be very effective with mitigating odors.
 

5MilesBack

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I use merino exclusively as baselayers for everything in the mountains, however, it doesn’t dry very quickly.
I always hear that, but I'll completely soak my merino tops with sweat every day and by the time I climb into my sleeping bag they're always dry. Now my cotton ball caps that I wear, are a completely different story. That's why I have so many of them......to trade out every day. They may take 2-3 days to dry.
 
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