Merino sheep are stuck wearing merino wool year-round, so it’s no surprise that merino wool stays comfortable and offers protection from the elements in such a wide range of temperatures. So does Patagonia’s Merino Air, a best-in-class hybrid base layer, new for 2015.
Warm, lightweight and odor resistant, merino wool is an incredibly popular material for base layers. Its only real flaw is its lack of durability, which has led Patagonia to discontinue previous merino product lines. Merino returned in products as a blend, combined with recycled polyester, which preserves merino’s warmth and comfort while giving their products more longevity. The hybrid material dries faster and is more breathable than 100 percent wool products. For the Merino Air, Patagonia improved upon the process of incorporating sustainably sourced wool fibers into the garment by spinning the wool into bulkier fibers, which increases warmth without adding weight. They’re then woven into the Merino Air in conjunction with Capilene, a quick-drying synthetic fiber that’s ideal for aerobic activities like running. Finally, Patagonia knitted the Merino Air garments with a zig-zag knit, which further increases breathability. The result is a 7.3-ounce wool sweater with the performance and fit of high-end athletic apparel but the odor resistance and warmth of wool. The qualities make it ideal as a stand-alone piece for high-intensity activities like running, or as a layer for ski touring.
The Merino Air is part of an ongoing movement in outdoor product design that refuses to accept the strengths and weaknesses of one type of material, strategically using both synthetics and wool to create a product with the best aspects of both. The Merino Air represents a new high for both natural and synthetic apparel. patagonia.com
Specifications for the Merino Air Hoodie
Total Weight: 7.3 ounces
Material: 5.6-ounce 51% chlorine-free merino wool / 49% Capilene recycled polyester seamless zigzag knit
Yarn: 18.9 micron gauge yarn, lofted wool