I’ve worn a lot of fabrics against my skin over a long career in guiding and an even longer life in the outdoors. I’ve sweated in all of them.
I still like cotton in some situations but let’s get serious; it’s not a serious layer for the mountains. Whether a Rockies thunderstorm or a Pacific Northwest drizzle, storms happen.
I remember the magic of my first synthetic base layers, moisture wicking and quick drying, but after a good sweat or two they quickly developed a stench that even a mother couldn’t love! But at least it didn’t “kill”; so for years I lived with the funk.
Since then I’ve worn a whole lot of petrol based tops and some perform quite well and have even gotten less stinky, but I’ve also come to like some of the wool and wool blends available in recent years. One issue has been that with all that sweat sometimes the wool doesn’t dry quickly enough to suit me.
Enter the Rab Merino + 160 Hoody. A blend of wool and polyester that has quickly become a favorite! This top is extremely quick drying, super comfortable against the skin and lightweight at under 10 ounces. The fit is close fitting but not tight or restrictive, with a “long enough to keep your belly covered” length and sleeves that won’t expose your arms when swinging ice tools or reaching high while rock climbing. The smooth and close fitting fabric slides well against other layers and doesn’t “snag” or bunch up like some other tops I’ve worn.
This top has been comfortable in a wide range of temperatures for me whether rock climbing, back country skiing or carrying a pack on and off trail. This is due in part to its ability to “breathe” and its ability to send that sweat to the outside (or “wick”), both of which are excellent. Adjustable comfort is also aided by the deep chest zipper when you feel a need for more venting.
The folks at Rab have a winner here and I find myself reaching for it day in and day out. In fact, it will be keeping me comfortable in the Bugaboos next week.
And the lack of bad smell, even with extended wearing, makes it perfect for a trip where I will be sharing a small tent. Or anytime you don’t want to be the stinky one!