Lightweight merino wool baselayer put through its printed paces.
Embers Merino Zip
Printed 'Topo' - First Look
Zip-neck, long-sleeved, lightweight merino wool baselayer top made from
Mountainskin 185 pure merino jersey - 185 grammes per square metre,
18.5 micron fibres), 28cm YKK zip with rubber-tipped puller, seamless
underarm panel, flatlocked stitching throughout, embers embroidery at
hip, 5cm high collar, slight drop tail, topo print on sleeves.
Like all baselayers, it's designed to be worn next to your skin and
manage the moisture you produce when working hard, erm, let's call it
sweat. It's also intended to be comfortable and will have some,
insulation value, though because this is a lightweight merino, it's
really intended to be suitable for all-year-round use.
Merino's really taken off over the past few years, but it's worth going
over the basics again, because they're what make merino different from
synthetic baselayers. Merino wool is made from the wool of merino sheep
- yes, obviously - and has extremely fine fibres. This means it doesn't
scratch like traditional, coarser wool, so even if you find most wool
uncomfortable, merino should be fine against your delicate skin.
It has anti-bacterial properties, which means you can wear it
repeatedly, without stinking. It feels warm when the weather's cold and
cool when it's hot. And it's also fire retardent. Its big difference
compared to synthetics, is the way it handles moisture - whereas most
polyester baselayer wick water outwards, merino wool primarily absorbs
it and holds it away from your skin, so you stay comfortable, even when
the fabric becomes damp. It's also slightly exothermic, so generates a
small amount of heat when it does get wet.
At £49 for a baselayer, you're entitled to expect something
pretty good and so far, the Embers top hasn't disappointed. It seems
reasonably well made, with non-chafing, flat-locked seams throughout,
and sports a slight drop tail for extra nether region protection. The
underarms are seamless for, well, underarm comfort as are the tops of
the shoulders for pack friendliness. Where it does fall down a little
is with some slightly basic stitching around the zip area - we'd expect
a slicker finish at this price - and the use of a label inside the
collar, when a flat heat transfer would make more sense.
It's also our favourite style - long sleeve and collar for sun
protection / warmth plus zip for instant venting - and has a close
body-hugging fit. Basically it does what it says on Embers' sizing
chart. Looks nice too with unusual contour line prints on the sleeves
and shoulders. And the YKK zip is reversed for a clean look.
All of which wouldn't matter a jot if the top didn't perform. The good
news is that so far it's been excellent. It's very comfortable and the
fine weight fabric means it should be fine in warmer weather and also
suits hot-blooded, fast movers.
As usual with merino, it handles moisture well, though the finer grade
fabric, does means that lots of sweating will eventually overwhelm it -
if you have a steam bath type of metabolism, you may be better off with
a good synthetic - though it still remains reasonably comfortable, even
when quite damp. Smells like wet sheep mind, though not unpleasant...
The other big plus is that you can use over and over again without
stinking the place out. We wore it five days running and it was still
fresh and fragrant even then. That's great for multi-day trips and
treks when you don't always have the option to wash clothing regularly.
Speaking of washing, the one downside of merino is that it's a little
less durable than synthetics. We suggest you follow the washing
instructions carefully and also avoid mixing merino garments with zips
and Velcroed stuff where possible. So far the Embers top has survived
two machine washes without shrinkage or damage. We'll report back if
that changes. One thing we did notice is that some of the print lines
on the sleeves are starting to crack and with further use, may start to
wear off, so we'll be keeping an eye on those.
We like merino, it's real feel good stuff, and the multi-wearability
rocks. The good news is that the Embers top, so far, is up there with
the best we've tried in performance. The beautifully soft lightweight
fabric adds versatility - wear it in hot or cold conditons - and
touches likes the seamless under and over-arm areas do help to justify
the asking price. We do have a couple of quibbles with the finish, but
that shouldn't make any functional difference and we are being a little
We also like the topo print, but for £45, you can
have what's basically the same design but in two-coloured mode and
without the print. So far then, so good.
useability, nice format and all the usual good quality merino
clunky, label instead of heat transfer. Durability of print?
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