View Full Version : Best Base Layers on the Market

05-02-2011, 12:07 AM
Well after getting some first lite merino wool a few months ago, I have put it to the test every way that I could think possible to test its durability and insulating qualities. I have worn under armour, as well as many other brands of base layers of the last few years, and nothing has compared to the merino wool from first lite. I wrote up a short little overview of what I thought of the shirt I have been testing, as well as my view on its pros and cons. You can find my thoughts on first lite merino wool through the follow url:


05-02-2011, 08:28 AM
+1. First Lite is the best I have found and I wear it everyday when guiding. Can't beat the Merino wool for moisture wicking, and when in the mountains for days at a time it doesn't start stinkink after long hours of hiking

05-02-2011, 12:14 PM
Thanks for the article. I have been looking for a good merino base layer. This really helps.

05-03-2011, 08:35 PM
what weight do you prefer, the lighter or the medium weight ?

05-04-2011, 01:51 PM
I've become a huge fan of the baselayers made by Icebreaker, a company based out of New Zealand. Great stuff. Comfy, warm, excellent wicking. Socially and environmentally sound to boot.

05-04-2011, 02:20 PM
I haven't worn the medium weight stuff yet, so far I have only tried the light weight one. It is very warm for the weight though. I think that the light weight would work for my system during the early seasons. However, I think I would suggest giving the medium weight stuff for later hunts with a greater possibility of colder temps.

05-04-2011, 07:31 PM
FirstLite wool comes from "Global Merino", KUIU wool is from “The Merino Wool Company” a better bit better wool IMO. Both great products but I would go with the KUIU.

05-04-2011, 07:33 PM

05-04-2011, 07:43 PM
I agree with everyone 100%. I love the Merino Wool. I have the lightweight version from Smartwool. Since I found this stuff I won't hardly wear anything else, just wish I had the medium weight for Midwest whitetail tree stand hunts. I also agree about how it absorbs body odor and virtually does not stink. My feet sweat real bad and these are the only socks that keep my feet from stinking even on long backcountry hunts where weight and space are an issue. Merino wool is unbelievable and I highly recommend it. Two thumbs up from me. Never heard a bad word from anyone who has any.

05-04-2011, 07:51 PM
Icebreaker and First Lite are made of the same Merino wool. I am fortunate enough to have known one of the founders of First Lite for over a decade now. He has provided me with their gear when they first started and continue to now with me always providing feedback. I am a true believer of all their products and especially when using multiple layers of their system it works from cold as hell mornings to early September hot hunts. I find myself wearing it constantly year round. I also have many Icebreaker layers and have nothing but good things to say about them also. First Lite is geared toward hunters, Icebreaker was not created with the "hunter" as a focus but it works plenty well.

05-04-2011, 08:00 PM

Merino wool has amazed me since the first time I tested it. Body temperature control, odor management, comfort and performance, I knew merino was the perfect fabric choice for KUIU’s base layer program.

I did a lot of research sourcing merino for KUIU. What I learned, like other fabrics, not all merino is the same. Just because a products uses merino wool and has a 17.5 micron rating, it does not dictate the quality or consistancy of the fibers in the fabric. As with Toray for outerwear, I wanted to ensure quality, consistency and performance for KUIU. General sourcing of merino from the global market would not guarantee this.

The Merino Company (TMC) based in Melbourne, Australia has been supplying merino wool for over 150 years. TMC has deep-rooted relationships with merino growers throughout New Zealand, Australia, South America and South Africa. This creates distinct supply chain advantage over their competition.

“The TMC approach ensures there is minimal variation in wool quality throughout a supply chain, with transparency, traceability and tight controls from sheep to shelf (S2S).” states TMC

TMC is able to provide a more consistent micron rating in their fabrics. This is important. A 17.5 micron rating is an average and to meet this fabrics will contain a range of fibers from 19.5 to 15.5 microns. TMC is able to supply a fabric with more 17.5 micron fibers. 19.5 micron fibers are not as comfortable and 15.5 micron fibers are not as durable. Thus TMC is able to provide a more consistent fabric which is more comfortable, performs better and lasts longer.

In addition to the supply chain quality advantages, TMC uses the most advanced yarn spinning and knitting technologies available. They offer their customers the widest range of merino wool fabrics on the market. TMC is the innovator in merino wool and leads the market in new fabrics and merino developments. They are eager to work with their customers to develop new products specific to a market. This makes The Merino Company the perfect partner for KUIU.

05-04-2011, 08:03 PM
I have been able to wear both weights of the KUIU merino wool for about two months now. I have worn it skiing, snowshoeing, shed hunting, and just general hiking. This is the BEST next to skin layer I have ever used and the camo is great to boot. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.

John G
11-07-2012, 12:14 PM
Minus33 is a great product check them out at minus33.com

11-07-2012, 03:55 PM
Micron count is pointless when comparing fibers.

Alpaca, muskox and cashmere all have similar 17-19 micron counts (the same as any finewool breed of sheep: Rambouillet or Merino).

Sheeps wool is the cheapest of the four fibers to use on a commercial level, BUT it's also the harshest on the skin.

If you want the BEST wool long underwear buy some that are blended out of one of the other 3 products.

You will pay!

John G
11-08-2012, 02:18 PM
Edelweiss I agree 100% for those that don’t know.

The muskox has a two-layered coat, and qiviut refers specifically to the soft underwool beneath the longer outer wool. The muskox sheds this layer of wool each spring. This is what is super fine down like fine wool down to 11 micron. . Cashmere is also from a double haired animal and can have microns down to 14-15. And you are 100% right both will feel great and cost you dearly. Aplaca fiber is a little different but still would improve the feel. The problem is that these very fine fibers are not that strong and will pill rather easily unless blended with wool as you mentioned.
The basic rule is the coarser the wool the longer it will last. The finer the wool the better it will feel but as ElkUpHigh states you do loose durability if you go too fine. IMO the light weight merino wools at Minus33 and Smart wool are always very comfortable and never prickly feeling. If you have not tried a good merino wool base layer garment you owe it to your self to give at least one piece a try.