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Is Merino really itchless?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have several merino wool sweaters that are comfortable but don't seem as comfortable as cotton or capilene next to my skin. I see lots of high priced merino underwear and t-shirts that are appealing but I really question if they are as comfortable as silk or some of the synthetics. How many people wear wool next to their skin?
Question number two: How important is it that you can wear your underwear multiple days? I know if your trecking you travel light but then smell is not very important when you're outdoors anyway. How many people really can't find a way to wear clean underwear every day?
post #2 of 12
steveturner, I've added some merino wool base layer to my collection this year. I used them at the ESA in Aspen and some of the following days. While skiing, I didn't notice any difference in comfort from the Capilene that I normally wear... and they felt almost identical to my Marmot with the silver in it (got those before I learned about the negative environmental impact of using heavy metals in underwear). The merino wool feels just a little like wool to the hand and when putting on/taking off, but while wearing it, I just don't notice it at all. The finish on the inside of the underwear probably makes a difference, and the Patagonia is exceptionally comfortable.

For the trips where I'm skiing multiple days in a row (like ESA Aspen and the nearby events when I was planning to spend 12 days in a row skiing before it was unexpectedly interrupted) it is more difficult to keep base layers clean--especially the right ones for the weather. I'm expecting the collection to come in handy during my 8 days in the spring in les 3 vallees.
post #3 of 12
Not if you're allergic to wool.
post #4 of 12
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Not if you're allergic to wool.
I have heard that Merino is different, but don't have this issue. Has this been a problem even with Merino, too?
post #5 of 12
Bought a Merino turtleneck on a recent trip to New Zealand. Wore it twice. Gave it away. Maybe it was just me, but I sure thought it itched.
post #6 of 12
FWIW, I don't care what they say I CANNOT NOT wear wool next to my upper body (this has been the case my entire life). I've tried many times, and the moment it comes into contact I'm miserable. I keep hearing this and that and how this one won't bother me etc, etc. I'm not going to say they lie, but they are wrong.

However, with a nice capilene or other base layer I just love the Smartwool and Icebreaker garments as additional layers. They last and last, look sharp, and I can get multiple wearings from them between washings.
post #7 of 12
Yes. I wear an Icebreaker merino thermal top next to my skin and it is very smooth and comfortable.

It is wool, but it is not the same as wearing a Shetland jumper as a base layer.
post #8 of 12
I love my icebreaker and smartwool baselayers. They never cause me to feel itchy or uncomfortable and if they get damp I still stay warm.


I've know some guys who don't like wearing them. The warmer you are, the more you may feel itchy in wool. Some guys say they are too hot.
post #9 of 12
I too have an Icebreaker top that I wear right next to my skin, I don't itch. I also have a merino wool hoody now I wear as a mid layer. I'm slowly getting away from fleece an other synthetics in favor of merino wool. What I like about wool is I never stink at the end of the day. If I'm wearing poly and fleece, their only fit for burning when the day is done. My wool clothing I only wash when I have to. When I get home, I hang it and let it air out and it's good to go the next day. With synthetics, I can't handle putting them on 2 days in a row...they put a serious hurt on my nose.
post #10 of 12
Merino sure makes me itch a well. In fact, it's even slightly worse than what I remember from "regular" wool. I can't even wear it as a second layer. It's all capilene for me with hot chillies 10 added if needed.
post #11 of 12
As a knitter who loves working with 100% wool, there are a lot of factors involved. While Merino is by far the best quality and can be the softest, that alone will not make it itchless. There are so many steps in preparing wool to be made into a garment (shearing, washing, combing, dying, spinning, etc) any one of those processes can make or break it. I have worked with some Merino that does not feel as nice as another non-Merino product. You will get what you pay for. A higher priced item will usually be better than a cheaper version of what appears to be an equivalent item.

I have a pair of 100% wool socks that I knitted and they are the softest and most comfortable pair of socks I own, almost like my new fleece jacket.

Of course all of this says nothing to individual sensitivities. Some people are allergic or just super sensitive to wool and it will itch no matter what. If you can tolerate some of the (higher quality) 100% wool socks, you may be able to wear other wool base layers. If you react to even the softest wool sock, you know to not even bother. That way you may only be out $20 vs $90 for the wool underwear.
post #12 of 12
Wool makes me itch like mad,

Bought a one of the new Patagonia wool base layers at Christmas, its soft comfortable, warm, no odour and it DOESN'T itch.

Very expensive but lovely!
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