Base layers are the foundation of appropriate clothing to wear while snowshoeing. The base layer is responsible for wicking moisture away from your body, so you stay dry and warm (yes, you do sweat when it’s cold outside). But with so many base layers on the market, how do you choose? One fabric type that stands out among the rest is Merino wool.
Ridge Merino, a company based in northern California, uses Merino wool as the focus fabric in their products, including their base layers. Recently, I had the opportunity to test and review a new addition to Ridge Merino’s base layer offerings, the midweight long-sleeve Women’s Aspect Merino Wool High Neck Top.
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For some reason, I have always gravitated towards synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, for my baselayers. But now, through my tests with the Aspect High Neck long-sleeve, my purchase decisions are likely to change. The difference between fabrics is pretty significant.
The Aspect High Neck is 84% merino wool and 16% nylon. The composition is spun with Ridge Merino’s (m)Force Technology, which uses the nylon filament as a core to increase durability and strength (up to 50% stronger than comparable weights), while still providing the stellar properties of Merino wool.
Merino Wool Properties
Since Merino wool comes from Merino sheep, the fabric provides natural temperature regulation. The material is insulating during cold temperatures, but the breathability allows heat to escape when it’s warm. While out snowshoeing on a particularly windy day during my review, I was surprised by how warm and cozy I felt with Ridge Merino’s Aspect High Neck Top.
Furthermore, Merino wool is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, which repel odors that come from exercise. This type of wool is also incredibly soft because of how fine it is, compared to other wools. In the Aspect High Neck’s case, it contains ultra-fine 18.5-micron fibers. In my tests, I didn’t have any itchiness or even wear on my skin from the day. Comfort is by far the primary factor of all of my favorite clothes, outdoor or every-day wear. On this front, the Aspect High Neck did not disappoint.
In addition to the insulating and anti-bacterial properties, wool (including Merino wool) is naturally UV-resistant (up to 50 SPF), flame-resistant, and water-resistant. In fact, wool can hold up to 30% of its weight in water without making the user feel wet!
Merino wool also tends to dry faster than other wool counterparts because of the fine fibers. Let me say that I don’t sweat very much, but while wearing my polyester long-sleeve base layer, I do occasionally feel the “stickiness” that comes with a long day of snowshoeing. This issue was not the case in the Aspect High Neck Top. I didn’t feel that “stickiness” with any of my outings while wearing the Aspect Top. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had been sweating on a few adventures.
Read More: Analysis: Will Merino Wool Keep Us Warm While Snowshoeing?
As part of my review, I also learned several handy features in the Women’s Aspect Merino Wool High Neck Top by Ridge Merino.
The high neck of this top is incredibly useful for keeping your neck warm and can even function as a makeshift balaclava in colder temperatures. On a particularly windy snowshoeing outing (the one mentioned above), I pulled up the long neck and was able to cover my cheeks, nose, and mouth from the chilly breeze. There is even enough fabric to cover the tops of your ears if you find the high neck is slipping down in the wind.
If you don’t need to pull up the high neck for wind or element protection, the fabric sits loosely around your neck. I don’t usually wear turtlenecks or tight-necked shirts, but in this case, that wasn’t an issue. The material was loose enough around my neck that I didn’t fiddle with it or even notice it while out enjoying the snow.
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The Aspect High Neck Top comes with two very discreet thumbholes in each sleeve. This feature serves the snowshoer well during outings with quite a bit of movement where you need to keep your sleeves secure. I also find that the thumbholes allow me to pull the sleeves a little farther down to cover my hands for additional warmth.
For those with longer torsos, this base layer is the way to go. The Aspect High Neck Top has a long cut, so it stays tucked into your pants. Even when not tucked in, there is enough fabric that you don’t have to worry about the base layer becoming too short with movement. This feature makes it an excellent option for those particularly active snowshoe days.
Labels That Don’t Itch
The Aspect High Neck Top has a printed neck label and removable care label. So, you never have to worry about itchy tags or cutting labels off this base layer. I don’t know about you, but a label that itches drives me mad, and of course, I always seem to forget to cut it off. I’m so glad I didn’t have to worry about this detail with the Aspect High Neck Top.
Finally, the color options for the Women’s Aspect High Neck Top include a magnet color, purple sage (the color I have), and camo.
This top is a warm, comfortable, versatile baselayer option for snowshoers. The (m)Force Technology and fabric makeup lead to a base layer that is 50% more durable than similar merino fabric weights. Moreover, you still have all the benefits of Merino wool.
Plus, Ridge Merino sources the Merino wool for their products sustainably and from certified farmers in Australia and New Zealand. The company is also a proud member of 1% For The Planet, donating at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits.
I know that I’m happy to say that I’ve added the Women’s Aspect Merino Wool High Neck Top to replace my long-time polyester long-sleeve for future snowshoe outings.
Would you try this baselayer? What is your review of the Aspect High Neck Top by Ridge Merino? Let us know in the comments below.
Ridge Merino provided my Women’s Aspect Merino Wool High Neck Top. As always, the views and opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.
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