Which Base Layer Is Best?
If you’re shopping for ski or cold weather gear anytime soon then may be thinking about whether it is best to opt for natural fibres such as merino wool or synthetic fabric.
To compare the relative merits and drawbacks of these two fibres we have broken down the qualities most people are looking for in their base layers to see how they measure up.
Our conclusions are as follows:
Without getting too technical about individual microns of fibre, Merino Wool has some of the finest fibres available in nature. So it is naturally comfortable and you’re not going to find it itchy unless you have a wool allergy. Synthetic materials are ideal for anyone with sensitive skin which means they slightly edge it on comfort although most people won’t notice the difference.
Effective temperature regulation is what base layers are all about but you tend to get what you pay for when choosing the right base layer for the conditions you are likely to face on the slopes. Merino insulates well against both cold and hot temperature and it is excellent at absorbing moisture to keep you dry. Synthetic materials also have excellent insulating properties similar to merino but experts say synthetic materials are best when you are participating in sports and strenuous outdoor activity because they keep you cooler. Merino on the other hand is better if you are walking around and not being particularly active.
If you care about how you smell then merino wool is going to be the best insulating layer for you because it naturally reduces the growth of odour-causing bacteria by regulating moisture. Synthetic materials on the other hand are not so good at this which explains why that synthetic base layer is nearly always in the wash basket.
Good synthetic materials are easier to find than good merino base layers and the former is cheaper being a synthetic rather than natural material. If you calculate how long the materials will last, synthetic will be more durable and merino won’t last as long so you will need to weigh up how often you will need to replace your base layer to come up with the true cost. Also if you are environmentally conscious it is worth looking into the environmental impact of both. Natural doesn’t always equal better for the environment.