one cyclist's adventures through the urban jungle

Saturday, April 07, 2007

MEC merino wool longsleeve lovin'

My early childhood experiences with wool scream itchiness and fullblown states of discomfort.

So what?

For Christmas of 2005 my parents bought me a pair of MEC merino wool lightweight long underwear bottoms. I had a sneaking suspicion I that I wouldn't use them, so I brought 'em back and exchanged them for the same garment, only in upper form. It's been 15 months of bliss.

I have worn the shirt year round, it regulates temperature really well. In the winter I wear it sometimes under a thin fleece (perhaps another review) but often I can get by with it just under a jacket; my windbreaker when it isn't pouring rain, or my rain-jacket when it (almost always) is (as if it will NEVER stop). In the summer i wear it on its own; its perfect for the early morning chill and in the afternoon I just hike up the sleeves. There is just the right amount of elasticity in the very fine wool fibres, that it doesn't feel too tight when I bunch up the sleeves to my elbows, and they stay put.

Another, most excellent, feature of this shirt (and anything made out of wool in general): ZERO STANK. It takes a fair bit of abuse to get this thing smelling bad. If I wear most of my wicking tops for more than 2 days, the smell factor approaches unbearable; after 1 day they usually hit anti-social. My wooly little friend, on the other hand, can be worn for days without any sign of stink. I am not too easy on my stuff, but I do hang it up to dry at work and most of the time it gets hung up or draped over something at home at night. It wicks moisture incredibly well, I have watched beads of water form on the outside surface on a few occasions, it look like the fibres pull the water out. In anticipation of this post I wore it on my daily (45+ minute each way) commute for 7 days, generally under a windbreaker, always with my Chrome bag there to make for some moderate back-sweat conditions PLUS I wore it on a 10 hour hike/snowshoe trip over the weekend. After the first 4 days (before hiking) it still smelt fine, I could even smell detergent in some areas. I eventually gave up, but after all of that it still wasn't any worse than a regular synthetic shirt after a few hours of use.

The garment is pretty bare bones, which I like. No neck zippers, no pockets front or back, no extra length in the back to cover your stern; just a basic crew cut fit (wear them on the snug/tight side otherwise they don't wick or keep you warm).

As you can see, I love this garment. Year-round functionality, able to go the distance between washings, very nice cut (I find MEC stuff to be very hit an miss on garment fit) and fashionably neutral (I gots the black one). The price is right too; under $65 for something of this quality is cheap, err.. I mean inexpensive. Highly recommended and easily one of my favorite pieces of clothing, cycling specific or otherwise.