Merino Wool Base Layer

Leanne Arnott, Basic PLUS Author Wearing a merino wool base layer is a smart hiking choice. Wearing merino wool thermal underwear, merino wool hiking socks and adding merino wool clothing to your mid layer is an excellent way to help moderate your body temperature, wick away moisture and keep from stinking from nasty body odours.

Do you hike in cotton t-shirts? Or wear 100% cotton underwear on a day long backpacking trip? We all sweat, that's true and backpacking is a great workout but there's no need to start smelling badly before you reach your summit.

Cotton fabric feels great and is super comfy but it is also great at absorbing moisture and that includes sweat. Cotton also doesn't dry very quickly so once it's wet it will stay wet for a long time which isn't good for hiking.

The best fabric to wear by far is merino wool fabric. Merino wool clothing keeps you warm when you need it to, is great for layering and breathes well so you can wear it in the middle of a hot summer and still stay well ventilated.

And it isn't itchy either. This is not like the wool sweaters your mom made you wear when you were a kid. Merino wool clothing is soft, durable, comfortable and very lightweight and this includes a merino wool base layer.

Merino wool fabric doesn't absorb moisture, it wicks it away from your body so it won't become wet like cotton does. It also dries much more quickly than cotton and one of the best parts is that it strongly resists body odours! Which is really great for backpackers who need to wear their clothes more than once on a trip.

I love layering my merino wool shirts, I have varying weights of shirts all from Icebreaker merino wool.

Our whole family also wears merino wool hiking socks for the same reasons. The day I switched over to good quality merino wool socks I stopped getting blisters on my heels. They are usually more expensive but well worth the investment.

Polypropylene fabrics are also great for hiking, these are the fabrics often found in workout gear or running gear. They also wick away moisture and dry quickly when they get wet but they do absorb body odours and they won't keep you warm.

My husband wore cotton underwear on one backpacking trip and quickly realized his mistake. Who wants to wear wet, soggy underwear for hours? He quickly switched to a polyester type of fabric for his base layer and has never looked back.

Pack a combination of polypropylene and merino wool hiking shirts and merino wool base layer clothing into your backpack for your next hike and I'm quite sure you'll agree that cotton has no place in a backpackers backpack anymore. Happy Hiking!

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