Gear Review: L.L. Bean Cresta Wool Midweight Base Layer Crew

A cheap(er) merino crew that stays stink-free.

Covet merino, can’t justify the cost? This shirt is $25 less than most merino crews, putting it on par with a typical synthetic. We wore it over a T-shirt on cool New Hampshire nights, under a rainshell while climbing in Wales, and sandwiched between a light baselayer and an insulated shell while skiing in Vermont.

There’s softer merino out there (you’ll pay), but only the most sensitive testers found these fibers itchy, and the fabric prevented stink even after seven straight days of use. Thumbholes keep wrists from being exposed.

$50; 10 oz.; men’s S-XXL, men’s tall M-XXL, women’s XS-XL;

Prefer a Quick-drying synthetic? Try Cabela’s ECWCS Polar Weight Zip Mock, made of Polartec Power Dry. In deep cold, it works well as a base- or midlayer. $55;