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Merino Baselayers

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

Before I head to Austria for the season I have decided I am going to purchase my first Merino baselayer.

I've had merino socks and jumpers in the past but for baselayers have always worn polyester ones or compression layers made by Canterbury/Underarmour.

I've had a look at Mons Royale, Icebreaker and cheaper offerings and would like to know is it worth paying the extra money for Mons Royale or Icebreaker?

Mons Royale look stylish and I'd be happier wearing one of their baselayers in the bar or in a restaurant but £70 for a baselayer feels like a lot of money.

Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
For the last few years, TK Maxx has stocked a brand called XTM, which was great value.

It's this crowd: http://www.xtm-shop.com/merino-thermals-c-38_30.html

Also check out Sport Persuit...who often have good deals on Merino stuff.

Another good brand is Smartwool.
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@Old Fartbag, thanks, I'll have a look.

Don't know why I didn't think of Smartwool, the clue is in the name isn't it. I also have some Smartwool socks.
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@lewisb22, Lidl have had merino base layers in the past at about £15 iirc.
Think that their ski wear arrives next Thursday.
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@Old Fartbag, Have a look at Isobaa on sportspursuit
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Aldi have cheap merino base layers but they are a bit itchy! Icebreaker are very good but pricey. Just ordered Icebreaker Oasis vest and leggings from Blacks which came to £86.40 when I applied my 20% Ski Club discount.
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Which ski club are you in @Eddy?
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The Isobaa ones are very warm...but personally I prefer synthetics for baselayers as merino doesn't seem as breathable and feels (very) slightly itchy (although that may all be in my head)!
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Ski Club of Great Britain
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I love Mons Royale stuff but it is pretty pricey. If you look around there are always deals on though and don't mind paying £40 for a good bit of kit than you can mooch around the resort in also.
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I have Icebreaker stuff, which has gone through the washing machine hundreds of times; I wear it all year round, for walking as well as skiing. It appears to be astonishingly hard-wearing, so I don't mind paying a bit over the odds initially. I don't know about the longevity of the cheaper brands, maybe they're just as good?
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I use my cycling ones - Endura Baa Baa. They are without doubt the best baselayer I have ever had warm, non itchy and very durable. I have 2 long sleeves and one short for (scottish) summers !

I just take 2 along for a ski week and rotate them - as they are merino, they dont need washing.

I would say from experience that the cheap ones sometimes skimp on the quality and quantity of merino wool - caveat emptor and all that.
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@lewisb22, We wear merino base layers always. My thoughts as follows:-

Icebreaker - used to wear them but overpriced and shrink in the wash. Mostly wear them now for mountainbiking because the size L and now M's. Frequently end up with holes in them, don't know why but can't be coincidence.

Ortovox - the best by far, great 3/4 leggings and layers of all types. Very warm, quality excellent. expensive but you get what you pay for, and it lasts unlike Icebreaker. Buy in the sales.

Janus - look at Sportpursuit, they sell this brand on there - we have plenty of their midlayers. Not as good as Ortovox, goes baggy with wear but washes well, goes back in shape and lasts years.

Devolo - excellent, good value and wash well.

Smartwool - only had their 3/4 leggings and a tee but wore baggy after a few days, not very warm compared with all the others, washed OK but were heavy in comparison to the others - sent them to the charity shop!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Another area of research would be the cycling outlets. I've got all my base layers (upper body) from Planet X. They haven't got a lot in at the moment but when they do, it's absurdly cheap. Quality of their own brand stuff is usually good.
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@Markymark29, thanks. If and when my Icebreakers give out, I shall look further afield. Janus look well worth a try. (My Icebreakers have never shrunk, but I am careful about the temperature at which I wash them.)
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The best base-layer I have is by a brand called "Frankly". It's some kind of merino mix and they just seemed to get it right. It resists developing odour like merino but it's much hardier so while all my other merino stuff wears out in a season or two, this one just keeps going.
I was given 2: one for myself to try and one to give away in the great Tombola la Bomobla of '14.

Even given my propensity to get given stuff, I'd be inclined to buy another of these. Unfortunately though the brand seems to have disappeared without trace Confused
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I've got merino from a bunch of places. I wear a merino base layer most days for 5 months of the year when cycle commuting. Also wear them for skiing / hiking.

Mostly icebreaker but always in sales - I've not found that they shrink. Been very long lasting for me
Agree with @Penry, on planet x - VERY good value
Howies - good
Smartwool - OK but remember they are not 100% merino, I find they are less good from a non-stink point of view
XTM (TK Max) - good price and design but they are Australian Merino not NZ Merino and are significantly more scratchy/itchy. Good on warmth and "odour management" though
Sweet protection (sale) - very good quality, wouldn't pay full price
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
does it need to be merino?
Have you looked at burnt custard?
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Icebreaker are top quality. you will pay for it, but I have several pairs of bottoms that have served me well for 5 seasons (approximately 20 wears per season) with no loss in elasticity or shape or insulating ability so far. Money well spent in my book.
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I have several pieces of Ice Breaker kit .lasts for ages .Always wash it on a wool wash and never shrinks.always hang it to dry and never put on a radiator.common sense really.
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Another Icebreaker user - not a problem with it. As Angus og, wash on wool, doesn't shrink or stink when wearing. Still going strong 9 - 10 years later, it was cheap then Smile

Easily washed in the shower if need be wink I believe there was directions on here at one time by someone.

Have bought some Isobaa from SP recently too - seems ok, and a great price, but bought for just general usage rather than ski baselayers.
@jedster, Some smartwool is 100% but the thinner weights tend to be mixed to give harder wearing now. Older stuff was 100% too - or so it says, obviously their socks aren't.
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Quick review on a few brands:

XTM - avoid! Dire stuff - worked in retail with them - all their stuff falls apart, had so many returns. Cheap and nasty.
Mons Royale - looks really good, but not quite as happy with it on as other premium brands. Just felt a bit claggy and hung in the wrong places. Not had it long enough to comment on durability.
Devold (from sports pursuit - same as Markymark I'm guessing) - solid. Cheap and decent quality.
Icebreaker - I'm a fan.
Smartwool - I'm a fan of this too - my goto for socks especially.
Le Bent - OK, although not as hard wearing as others in my experience.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@jedster, Some smartwool is 100% but the thinner weights tend to be mixed to give harder wearing now. Older stuff was 100% too - or so it says, obviously their socks aren't.

Ah OK fair enough I see from their website that they have lots of different fabrics based around merino including pure merino.
I have some cycling jersies made from a smartwool fabric which is a blend and while I really like them they are not quite as anti-stink.
I wear smartwool phd light ski socks which I think are excellent - also a blend.
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Thanks all for the comments, wasn't expecting this many!

I've been bought a Mons Royale baselayer as an early Christmas present and have also bought an Isobaa one from Sport Pursuit.
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One thing I'm giving a try is sleepwear. David Mandy from M&S. No odour and wicks great. Use it in hot climates a lot.
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