SNEWS Review: Patagonia merino wool 1&2 baselayers review

After a year of testing, we’re happy to report the new Patagonia merino baselayers are still some of our favorites, despite a few trade-offs that made us fall in love with the originals.
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In fall 2011, Patagonia relaunched its merino baselayer line after a season’s absence during the redevelopment of the product.

The previous versions were some of our favorite merino wool baselayers, so we eagerly awaited the reworked line. After a year of testing, we’re happy to report the new products are still some of our favorites, despite a few trade-offs that made us fall in love with the originals.

We tested a men’s merino Patagonia 1 Silkweight long-sleeved crew and a men’s merino Patagonia 2 Lightweight long-sleeved zip neck.

To be true, these are merino mixes — 65 percent merino wool / 35 percent recycled polyester for the Silkweight and 80 / 20 percent mix for the Lightweight. Like many other brands, Patagonia employs the blends to increase durability and wicking, while reducing pilling, snagging and cost. Patagonia moved away from 100 percent merino wool in 2009, even before the redevelopment.

Another content change in 2011 is that Patagonia switched from a New Zealand-based merino wool to one from Australia. The new supplier, e-wool, has a more sustainable and traceable wool supply, officials said, which helped Patagonia achieve Bluesign environmental standard approval for the garments.

From our perspective, all the changes add a slightly stiffer feel to the garments. That’s great for durability (we found the pieces do indeed hold up better with less pilling and snagging), but it takes away from some softness and light weight. That is particularly evident in the Silkweight, which lost some of its … well … previous silkiness. Indeed, the new Merino 1 version (men’s medium) weighs in at 5 ounces on our scales versus 4.5 ounces for the old one. The changes did reduce cost, the Silkweight long-sleeved crew today is MSRP $65 versus $90 a few years ago.

But we’re not only about pining for the past in this review. Patagonia made several other adjustments to its new Merino line that received big thumbs up from our testers.

One advancement is a new form of stitching along the seams to reduce itch against skin. Patagonia calls it “articulated seaming” and our testers approved. The stitching alignment also changed from one seam down the middle of each side to two offset seams down each side. This leads to a much better fit, which has overall been slimmed down, part of Patagonia’s slim-fit measurements — something to keep in mind if consumers are thinking of the previous line's fit standard.

While we’d still like to see Patagonia return to at least one 100 percent merino wool baselayer option (particularly for winter), the brand remains among our top choices (along with Icebreaker and IO Bio) in this category.

MSRPs: Patagonia 1 Silkweight Merino long-sleeved crew - $65; Patagonia 2 Lightweight Merino long-sleeved zip neck - $85

SNEWS® Rating:
4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.

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