Pros: fabric feel, warmth, handles sweat, no smell, price
Cons: price vs synthetic, tight elastic band
I've seen ads touting Merino wool over synthetic fabric as a base layer, but didn't give them much credence until trying the Minus33 mid weight bottoms and top that I recently purchased. Wool costs more than synthetic and normally I went for what looked like a bargain. However, I had a chance to pick up some Minus33 base layer clothes at a price just a little higher than a good synthetic version and decided to give it a try for the ski season. I'm glad I did. I haven't had a chance to try them in a full winter onslaught yet, but I was able to use them exercising outside on a cold, windy day and they performed well and felt better than any synthetic version I used.
The first thing I noticed when I got the wool bottoms was how nice the fabric feels, especially versus the synthetic base layer clothes I already owned. The wool doesn't itch against the skin and even though it is thin, it still feels warm. The Minus33 base layer bottoms felt like a quality product, which should last through many uses. I also liked how it looked in the sage green color I was able to get it in. Not that you usually are wearing the bottoms where someone could see them.
The bottoms and accompanying top performed well the one chance I had to use them so far. I wore them to take a run when the temperature outside was tool cold to just where shorts and and a t-shirt. I wore the bottoms and the top with just my running shorts over the bottoms and felt comfortable temperature wise for the whole run. I never felt too hot, even though I often build up a lot of heat when I run and I never felt cold either. The wool bottoms and tops helped keep me in a comfortable range.
Once I finished my run, I got to be impressed by some other qualities of the wool. First, I sweat a lot when I run and this run was no exception. But, I didn't feel particularly sweaty during the run. When I got in and took the bottom and top off, I was able to see that the wool had absorbed a lot of sweat from me kept me comfortable despite the sweat. Next, the bottoms and tops dried fairly quickly and didn't smell at all, even the next day.
There are a couple of small negatives. I noticed the elastic of the bottoms felt a bit tight when I first put them on and at the start of the run. This makes me wonder if the size was a bit smaller than stated. I can still wear them, but I might have been better getting a size up. The other issue comes down to price. Wool is more expensive than synthetic and if you compare the price to that of a quality synthetic brand, it is going to cost more. However, if you price it against other premium wool base layer brands, the Minus33 clothes can be found for less, and are thus a good value compared to other wool brands.