Merino vs Polypro thermals
With my set of merino thermals hanging off me (no elbows, no knees, no butt, shoulders down to threads) it has become time to get a new set, or two. Begs the question, Merino or Polypro? I understand both have their strengths and weaknesses. What do people recommend and why?
I have found good quality polypro and Merino both keep me warm. I also find Merino more comfortable to wear when in warmer temperatures. In general I favorer Merino, I find it softer on the skin and it can be worn for days on end without smelling. In saying that, I have read claims on new high tech expensive polypro that they are more order resistant then wool.... Never tried them. I own a pair of Stoney Creek Powder Dry long johns and they are silky smooth to wear, but do not believe they keep me as warm as other brands. Have not had experiences with any other 'new hightech' polyprops because I have stuck with Superfine merino.
Thanks militaris. Comfort, warmth and odour are of concern. Cost is secondary. Someone was just telling me that Polypro OVER Merino is great for when its just *that* cold. Hard for me to imagine, but then, I have never even seen snow.
I think the benefits of Merino and polyprop are about the same. I have mostly polyprop but my stuff is getting a bit old now. A lot of people prefer merino for comfort but I have no problem. The polyprop seems fine to me. I don't have a problem with the smell. Sure they smell but so does everyone else in the party so it isn't offensive. It's a tramping smell so I have nice associations with it. I always change when I come back to civilisation though. The main issue I think is that merino tends to be more expensive. I have seen it on sale from time to time but polyprop is always a lot cheaper.
A good trick to de-smell those old polypros is to boil (yes boil, they will survive, most plastic kettles are made from polypropylene) them with the laundry powder for about ten minutes, then rinse well. Make sure you use an old pot! Previously I've stuck with polypro but recently tried some new polyester thermals, they seem more comfortable to wear and slightly more wind resistant hence warmer. Never tried the merino thermals, so many bad memories of the those old woollen singlets I had to wear as a kid when tramping.
All thermals, being made of Polypro,wool or polyester will seemingly keep you warm. They don't actually provide the warmth.It's your body that does that. They actually keep you dry by wicking which is the transportation of moisture through the fabric using body heat which will always try to escape to the cold areas.They therefore keep you dry and its being dry which is allowing you to feel warm. Your body (skin) will lose up to 240 times more body heat when wet. This is one of the reasons the first layer will need to be a snug fit to prevent moisture pooling in loose areas. Polypro is often the snuggest fit because it provides some stretch. Polypro is usually the cheapest option but they lose shape faster. Many will usually attest to polypro smelling more and that is because bacteria from body oils get caught in the fabric and die. Some say wool will smell less and probably is the case mostly but an individual's oils etc can still produce a smell. Wool is porous and is able to wick but holds more moisture in the fabric longer so dries a little slower. Note many wool options are more expensive and can wear quicker but there is often a fashion element in it such as those from Icebreaker. Polyester is only often a little more expensive than polypro and will usually keep shape longer but then they are often less of a snug fit and can appear more shirt like. There are dozens of mixes on the market now combining fabrics and ways to weave them that it can only confuse the buyer. Always remember the basic properties of the fabric and go from there. eg Polypro and polyester are plastics and wool is natural.
A couple of friends with Merino and yet to see one dry overnight in a hut. More than 'a bit longer' as most polyprops seem to take an hour or two. Or have they just been unlucky with their purchases?
i have found the altica brand thermals from kathmandu seem to work well, they are a bit more expensive than standard polyprop but cheaper than merino, and dont seem to smell either
Drying time seems to be a huge difference.
Am I the only person who can't wear merino against my skin? I find it itchy, and then I go red and bumpy. So I generally have 1-2 layers of polypro first, then an icebreaker or two.
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