Editors' Choice 2010: Patagonia Merino 1 Baselayer

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

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