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Polypropylene v. Merino Wool

Exercising outdoors in the winter is all about layering and choosing performance base layers can be tricky. Basically there's two main choices. Polypropylene or Merino Wool.

Polypropylene is a quick drying polyester fiber that wicks moisture away from the body. The fabric was engineered to do the wicking, since we all know regular polyester just makes you sweat. The downfall? The fabric retains odor, so even though you wash it, it can still smell a little stinky. Patagonia makes 4 different weights of its polyester performance baselayer called Capilene, so you can dress according to the temperature. They cost anywhere from $40 to $90.

On the other hand, Merino Wool is a natural fiber that's not at all itchy like that bumpy sweater your grandma knit you. When it comes to an active lifestyle, it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The wool naturally wicks away moisture. Plus, it can be washed and won't shrink. The downfall? It's a little more expensive than "polypro." Smartwool makes a great long sleeved shirt for $75.

If you want to know which one you should choose,

Both kinds of base layers come in a mulltitude of different styles from short sleeves, to zip-ups, to hoodies. They make bottoms too, so you don't freeze your buns.

For really active sports that make you sweat like hiking, running, and cross-country skiing, I'd wear the Polypropylene. During less active sports, where you're stopping and starting, like downhill skiing or ice-climbing, I'd slip on some Merino wool to stay toasty warm.

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peteuk66 peteuk66 8 years
PS...Forgot to mention bleaching affects wools sweat and water wicking properties.
peteuk66 peteuk66 8 years
Smartwool is the cheaper end of merino that has been bleached therefore losing its strength properties, just try the socks on a long hike and they start shredding. If your going to go wool then look at Patagonia, a little more expensive but it wont fall apart, because its not made with cheap bleached fleece trimings. By the way I am not employed by Patagonia or stand to gain profit monetarial or property by this post, unlike other posters, yes you from Smartwool.
Fitness Fitness 9 years
Yeah, Smartwool makes a whole lot of stuff, like glove liners, hats, and baselayer pants too. Check 'em out,
scratch5 scratch5 9 years
Smart wool sock are my fav. I have many pairs. I had no idea that they made sweaters. Got to check 'em out.
Fitness Fitness 9 years
Yeah, I love Smartwool socks. I just got a pair last year for skiing. Very warm indeed. And I like their running socks too. They're thin enough so they don't cause blisters.
Beaner Beaner 9 years
I just got one of those Smart Wool half zip-ups and I love it. I was impressed. It's really warm for being so thin. Have you tried their socks?
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