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Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Editors' Choice 2010: Patagonia Merino 1 Baselayer

Settle the wool-versus-synthetic debate once and for all: Get the best of both.

by: BACKPACKER Editors

Patagonia Merion 1 (Steve Howe)
Patagonia Merion 1 (Steve Howe)

Few products divide our testers like merino and synthetic baselayers. Some swear by the warmth-to-weight and natural stink-proofing of wool. Others demand the softness, durability, and quick-dry performance of polyester. And now they all want this hybrid fabric.

The keys are the ratio of wool to poly yarns and the construction. It’s made with 63 percent chlorine-free merino (16.5 microns) wrapped around a recycled poly core (which improves insulation and moisture control). Result: Testers wore the long-sleeved crew for a week straight in the Alps, and on scores of other trips, and it dried faster than an all-wool shirt yet never worked up a stink.

Due to the wool content, Merino 1 is more prone to pilling under abrasive pack straps than synthetics, but even our highest-mileage sample (almost a year) held up well. Caveat: Female testers wanted a closer fit. $65-$89 (six styles); patagonia.com

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Merino dries quicker then synthetics because the moisture can evaporate through the actual fibers themselves, rather then just through the holes in between the fibers, like a synthetic. So I'm not sure where you're getting that synthetics dry faster, they are more durable that's for sure. Does the synthetic element in these baselayers wear out the merino element quicker?

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