most durable merino?

Whisky

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Just goes to show everybody has different experiences and likes...

To me, I like Smartwool the best. First Lite is nice too, but for me the Smartwool feels a tad more comfortable. I also have boxer briefs from both Smartwool and First Lite and prefer the shorter Smartwool. I've worn them a lot this season and so far they've held up. Smartwool socks, awesome. I have had no issues durability wise with either of the company's base layers..

I will say, First Lite customer service is pretty good. I believe they re-designed their Kanab pants for 2012 because of durability issues, and I got a pair. Used them chasing antelope on a couple different trips in Wyoming with no problems. One weekend packing into the badlands of ND and I had a hole in the crotch, as well as a seam splitting in the crotch. I'd stay away from merino pants, brand wouldn't matter. As awesome as they are in theory, merino just isn't made to be outerwear in a pant... Customer service obviously took care of me.
 

Lawnboi

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Im going to try some firstlite in asat this year for thinner tops. I may just go with synthetic as thin merino is pretty fragile no matter how you put it. Im hoping that when kuiu comes out with this hot weather gear that they push out a nice thin, synthetic top.

For heavier stuff, although I havnt used it much yet, the kuiu 230 merino looks like its going to hold up very well. A lot more than my other merino I have seen, Including kuiu, Sitka, icebreaker, redram and Justin Charles. Although this is all speculation as of now until I can give the 230 a real beating.
 

Arrowslinger

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I'll throw another brand into the mix that makes products for the run and ski industries - icebreaker. Although they don't make camo, they do make a few in earth tones. I just picked up 3 shirts from them and so far so good.
 

Gman

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Are there different grades of icebreaker? I tried it and thought it was quite scratchy against the skin. I also tried the redram and that was worse but I wasn't impressed by icebreaker. However all the positive comments here make me wonder if I wasn't trying the right stuff. I've been very impressed with the minus 33 stuff. Especially their boxer briefs.
 

Arrowslinger

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Gman, I'm wearing one of their (icebreaker) shirts now and theres no scratchy feeling. Our staff of 24 all wear and use icebreaker for casual wear and running with zero complaints, returns or issues so far.
 

thru-hunter

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Are there different grades of icebreaker? I tried it and thought it was quite scratchy against the skin. I also tried the redram and that was worse but I wasn't impressed by icebreaker. However all the positive comments here make me wonder if I wasn't trying the right stuff. I've been very impressed with the minus 33 stuff. Especially their boxer briefs.
Funny but I love the Minus 33 shirts and don't like the boxers that much. For me the waistband rolls up and cuts into my hips. I just ordered some ice breaker boxers to try since STP has em for $16/ea with deal flyer coupon. I have Icebreaker shirts as well and they are not quite as soft as the Minus 33, the minus 33 is also longer which I appreciate.
 

Kotaman

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Ditto for me...I have KUIU, Sitka, Justin Charles and First Lite. First Lite is BY FAR my favorite and appears to be the highest quality garmet as well.
 

Becca

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I have used stoic, icebreaker, smartwool, minus 33, I/Obio and a couple other brands, and can't tell too much of a difference to be honest. Any item I have owned that is 100% merino has had the same no stink, quick drying, sweat wicking properties I have come to expect from merino. Pretty much all of my next to skin clothing for backpacking is merino any more, (except for pants) to include underwear, sports bras and socks. I have worn out a few items, but given the amount of use an abuse I put them through, I don't fault the company or construction....they just plumb wore out after a couple of hard seasons.

Are there different grades of icebreaker? I tried it and thought it was quite scratchy against the skin. I also tried the redram and that was worse but I wasn't impressed by icebreaker. However all the positive comments here make me wonder if I wasn't trying the right stuff. I've been very impressed with the minus 33 stuff. Especially their boxer briefs.

Not sure about different grades with the icebreaker, but the weight of the knit and yarn used seems to make a lot of difference in the feel of the material. I have several icebreaker items, and the ones that are the softest say "superfine" and have the most narrow weave. I looked at some cabelas brand merino base layers one time that were on sale and super scratchy. It's lame, but I think with merino like everything else you probably get what you pay for...that being said if you find a brand and style you like, there are great deals to be had if you really look.
 

jmez

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I had good luck with the Core 4 base layers I got off of camofire.

I did tear a hole in the shirt on the last day of my hunt. I caught my sleeve on a sharp piece of deadfall climbing over, I think it would have torn any shirt, cotton or wool. I wore the shirt with noting over it about 75% of a 10 day hunt and this was the only issue.

Shirt was soft and didn't cause any itching.
 

huntography

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I wore my first lite base layers for over 40 days of elk and deer hunting. Not only did they not stink for wearing them days on end, I only washed them once over a 21 day hunting trip and they held up perfect and did not stink. Super impressed with them.

I also wear Filson merino in colder weather and those have held up perfect as well.

Huge fan of merino wool. Those ate the only 2 brands I have experience with.

Hope this helps.

- Rudy
 

Matt W.

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I have Smartwool 3/4 zips tops I've worn pretty hard and have gotten about 4 years out them. They don't look new (slight "fluffing" to them), but no holes and they are comfortable still.

Been wearing KUIU 185 pants for ~2 years now.

I am still searching for a good merino wool T...
 

Ross

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I have no issues with the KUIU tops, knowing that if I wear the 185 with nothing over it, it is going to get holes in it. I wore the 230 through much of November in many conditions and through heavy brush and it held up very well. Smartwool was my go to company until KUIU came along. Have yet to try firstlite but imagine the time will come out of curiosity.
 

tradair1980

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I have FL,KU ,stoic and redram ...I used the 185 Ku and can say that it wore pretty fast one shirt is very, very pilled up up where my pack was and the other is showing signs of it as well. My FL Chama is my oldest merino shirt and has to no sign of wear , BUT it only gets worn during the late season so its mostly covered up . I have 2 stoic shirts I run in and they are my go to running shirts. As for boxes briefs I have 2 pairs of redram stoic and one pair of FL and use them for daily activities and run almost every day in a pair of them . And can say this Ill be buying more of the stoic brand they still look new and feel new and believe me the shouldn't Good luck on your.search !
 

Huntr

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I have Smartwool, Kuiu and Minus 33. I have had the Minus 33 for sevearl years and it still looks new, and I wear it for most of my backpack/hiking workouts for most of the year. My Smartwool has also held up very well being rotated in as well. I have recently added the Kuiu 185 and 230 (thanks to Christmas) and used them on a late season cow elk hunt last week only so no idea on durability, but it is not nearly as soft as the Minus 33 and Smartwool. Oh, I do have a pair of Icebreaker boxers that have held up very well over the last few years as well.
 

KMT

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I have only used Smartwool, so I can't compare it to the others. However, I can say that I have has the pants for over 8 years, and the shirt lasted 7 years before it started to get holes in it. I wear them as under layers only and doubt that any wool undershirt would last long as an external layer for hunting. I wear smartwool for hunting an skiing (usually skiing 30+ days per year). Smartwool can be machine washed and dried in a a dryer with no fear of shrinkage.
 

Ozz08

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I posted earlier in this thread that my smartwool had held up great as a base layer. Well yesterday after a long walk in with a full strap of ducks and 5 snow geese drenched in sweat I tried to pull my smartwool top off and put all 4 fingers and my thumb right through the material. Lol. I guess I pulled a bit too hard trying to yank it off my back. It probably would have happened to any brand. It just figures I say something positive about the durability of a product then I go and destroy it!
 

fair-chase

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I give First Lite a slight advantage over KUIU in durability, softness, and fit. The only concern I have with my First Lite base layers are the zippers. Haven't broken one yet (knock on wood) but they do feel a little cheap. I go the extra mile when using them to make sure there isn't any overdue pressure when zipping, keep them zipped tight when washing, and generally just baby them. Seems to have worked out so far but I'm always stressing about these cheap zippers breaking on a hundred dollar shirt. Wish they would remedy this.
 

Kalidor

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I love icebreakers, especially their 320 weight items. Very soft and comfy, but they are sized for athletic (read waif-like) build people. Being sized like a pig / bear, depending from where you are looking at me, means tricky sizing.
 

Nick Muche

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First Lite has been the best for me and I see no reason to even try any of the others at this point. All merino garmets are subject to tears if you do not take care of it.
 

Shrek

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Steep & cheap has 230 merino on now. 1/4 zip in a tan is an option. $53 & change.
Gone now.
 
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