Review: Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight baselayer

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We’re all big fans of Merino wool here at Gear Exposure and we were very exited when Patagonia announced that their Merino 1 Silkweight range was making a comeback.

The Merino 1 Silkweight fabric blends natural merino wool with polyester, to a ratio of 65/35 for what Patagonia says is a better wicking and more durable fabric compared to 100% Merino. Of course the polyester they use is 100% recycled and Bluesign certified, because sustainability is something Patagonia takes seriously.

We’ve been testing the t-shirt version for men and women for more than a month now so without further ado, let’s talk about how it feels to wear one of those.

Fit

The t-shirt version, like the crew shirt, has a slim fit but can be worn as a normal top. It looks nothing like a piece of underwear and comes in some great bright colours. Size wise the men S is slightly too large for my taste but the women S seemed perfect for my fellow tester.

Patagonia Merino One Silkweight front women

On the skin it feels very soft. I found my Icebreaker baselayer to be a bit itchy, the Merino 1 Silkweight is not, certainly due to the polyester they put in it. It is also quite light. The men size S weights 104g (3.66 oz) and the women size S 87g (3.06 oz) and as you might imagine once you have it on you will quickly forget about it.

Climbing

The fabric doesn’t stretch much but it never impaired my movements and it quickly became my go-to shirt for going climbing. It virtually lives in my sports bag, I took it out once to wash it in 6 weeks. That’s one of the main advantage of Merino wool, it doesn’t smell the way synthetic stuff does. Of course this t-shirt being only 65% Merino, it does feel less fresh than my 100% Merino baselayer after the same number of climbing session but it will definitely be cool for a weekend outdoor and more after that.

The Merino 1 Silkweight t-shirt seems to dry pretty fast and generally a 5min break in between routes is all it takes, even in the hot and stuffy room that is my bouldering club.

Hiking

Here again no surprise, the t-shirt performed very well, rarely too hot or too cold and always dry except in areas like arm pits and back where the body has a greater perspiration. On its own or under a fleece jacket did not make much difference, it breathes well and feels great.

Patagonia Merino One Silkweight front men

Patagonia Merino One Silkweight side men

I’ve noticed some signs of wear in some areas like shoulders, back and hips, where the backpack is more in contact with the shirt and I’ll update the review if I find it to be a problem but for now it doesn’t look like anything major.

A word about the Common Thread Initiative

Patagonia has been committed to the environment since the beginning and is always pushing more and more to get a more sustainable business. Some will call it marketing fad but we are inclined to believe that there is more to it. Back in 2006 they launched a program called “The Common Thread Initiative” to increase awareness about the impact of textile industry on the environment. Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, re-imagine. Read more about it on Patagonia’s website and take the pledge.

Bottom line

At the end it comes down to faster drying VS 100% natural and better odour control and I would probably recommend the Merino 1 Silkweight for more intense activities like running, mountain biking or climbing and a 100% Merino shirt for hiking, travelling and camping.

Merino is getting some more love recently and there are other great brands using it to craft great pieces of outdoor gear. In the same segment for example you will find the Icebreaker SS Atlas I reviewed a few months ago or the Smartwool Microweight Tee both in the same price range as Patagonia’s Merino One Silkweight at around $60.

Disclaimer: The two baselayers featured here were sent to us by Patagonia for the purpose of this review.

//Author: Ben

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