Embers Mohaka Zip - First Look

First impressions of some rather nice Anglo-Kiwi merino wool clothing.

Posted: 9 February 2007
by Jon

Embers Mohaka Zip - First Look

Price: £69.95

Weight: 335 grammes (medium)

Features: Long-sleeve, zip-neck merino wool top, 100 per-cent NZ 300 grammes per square metre weight merino wool with 21 micron fibres, heat transfer neck label, long body and arms to stop riding up. [note: test garment is chocolate a new colour available soon, current Mohakas are 'midnight']

What's It For? Embers Merino is a new small Derbyshire-based outfit specialising in merino. The guys say that they're an 'active lifestyle brand' and reading between the lines, the idea is to produce kit that's both capable of active use on the hill, but also good looking enough for casual wear.

The Mohaka Zip is a middle-weight sort of grade material so you can use it either layered over some finer merino or next to skin as a serious cold weather baselayer or simple for casual wear.

The Techy Bits Unless you've been hiding under a large stone for the past few years, you'll probably know that merino wool is an ultra-fine New Zealand wool. The fine fibres avoid the scratchy feel of traditional wool making it comfortable to wear next to skin. It also manages moisture very effectively and can absorb a considerable amount of water while still remaining comfortable. It's warm in winter and cooling in summer and as a bonus has natural anti-pong properties making it ideal for multi-day use when trekking.

The downside is that it doesn't wick moisture as well as some synthetic baselayers and takes longer to dry. As it stays comfortable when damp, that's often not an issue.

How It Works We don't need to be convinced about merino's performance, it's comfortable and effective, so we were really just looking at the design and fabric. It's good news on both fronts, the quality of the New Zealand merino is directly comparable to other merino stuff we've used and is comfortable next to the skin.

We also like the design. For starters it's cut on the long side with longish sleeves to prevent riding up in active use. There's a heat transfer instead of a sewn-in label to stop scratchiness on the back of the neck and the shoulders are cut so there's no seam in that area where a pack might rub.

The Mohaka Zip is a medium to heavyweight merino, which means it's probably a tad warm for fast-moving use, but would work well as a super warm baselayer in seriously cold conditions.

Initial Verdict

Based on the Mohaka Zip, we'd happily recommend the Embers Merino kit to anyone looking for a merino baselayer. You'll either like the shrubbery graphics on the front of the garment or not but we can't really fault the rest of the top for fit or quality and touches like the heat transfer label show a real attention to detail.

For active use we'd suggest one of the lighter weight baselayer tops rather than the Mohaka, but for casual / active mid-layer wear, it's great and while the price is relatively high compared to synthetics, it's in the same ballpark as other quality merino.

It's also British in the sense that the company is based in Derbyshire and Chris, half of the company, is a Brit, while partner Marianna is a Kiwi and was brought up with sheep, erm, or at least in a merino-friendly environment.

Another great, natural, feel good alternative to synthetic baselayers.

Embers Merino web site

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