A base layer release in July may not be the most savvy marketing move. But Patagonia couldn’t wait for what the brand is touting “the world’s most advanced base layer.”
Those are tall claims. But the Merino Air Baselayer product line, which goes on sale this week, appears to be something new.
It consists of men’s and women’s pieces made of a wool-polyester blend put through a process I have not seen.
What sets it apart: During manufacturing the yarn is exposed to a type of high-pressure air gun. The result is an “exploded” yarn that is higher-loft as well as soft and stretchy in the hand.
Put it on and the fabric contours to your body, from the tight-fitting hood on down. It’s a seamless, stretchy fleece that immediately feels warm. But because of the “exploding” process the fabric is highly breathable.
Like most Patagonia products there is an environment story. The company notes it sourced its wool from grasslands in Argentina, in the Patagonia region, using “regenerative agricultural practices.”
Also, because of a seamless knitting procedure the company notes the garments are made with minimal fabric waste, as little as 4 grams of extra material left over at the end.
Merino Air fabric is about half wool, half synthetic. Patagonia cites it as being 51% merino, 49% recycled polyester, and the fabric weight is 190 g/m2.
I wore a hoody made of the stuff this week. It was too warm outside to test any of the cool-weather capabilities, but having the Merino Air Baselayer on did seem different.
Compared to most merino-based tops I have worn the Patagonia piece fit and felt more like a very thin sweater, not like long underwear. The fabric is airy and super stretchy.
Pull on the sleeve and hold it up to a light; the zigzag fabric pattern disappears to reveal an intricate knit web of pinprick holes — you can both feel and see the breathability of this top.
Style comes second to performance. The aqua-blue of our test piece was a bold color choice, and wearing the face-framing hoody I got compared to a Teletubby more than once.
But warmth, breathability, and wicking are more important than aesthetics with this product launch. Indeed, Patagonia, a business not known for product hyperbole, calls Merino Air a “breakthrough” and “like nothing else on the market.”
The company will sell the Merino Air line at its brand stores and online via Patagonia.com. The shirts and bottoms cost $129 and up, a premium rate.
This fall I will test it out when the weather gets cool. Until then I’ll wear the Merino Air hoody around for comfort if I feel chilled. Call me a Teletubby, I don’t care.
–See full details on the Merino Air Baselayer line by Patagonia here.