I buy a lot of cold-weather hiking clothes through REI because they sell high quality clothing that’s just as good as what you can buy from Smartwool or Patagucci, but for less money. REI doesn’t have to advertise their products, so they can pass the savings to consumers and members. You don’t have to be a member to buy REI clothes, but you do get an 10% end of year rebate on them which doesn’t hurt.
I recently bought several REI Merino Midweight Baselayer Tops and have been wearing them frequently since. They’re surprisingly warm and have become my goto layer around the campsite and when I’m sleeping outdoors this autumn. I bought these shirts on sale for 50% off and they’re still on sale if you want to snag a few.
Merino baselayers are more odor resistant than synthetic baselayers, which is a big advantage for backpacking if you’re out for a few days at a time. These shirts are made with an ultrafine merino wool that is soft to the touch. They don’t require any special care. I wash and dry them with my regular colored clothes and they don’t shrink, which can be a problem with some wool shirts.
They have flat seams to eliminate chafing and have a droptail hem that’s designed to work with a backpack hip belt and stay tucked into your waistband if that’s what you want. The underarms are gusetted to allow for full range of movement when climbing or scrambling, or working in the yard.
The REI Midweight merino shirts are the equivalent of a 200 (gram) fabric in Smartwool’s way of classifying the warmth of their garments. At 200 grams, it’s warmer than a 150 gram Merino baselayer that I prefer for highly aerobic hiking, like climbing a mountain with a backpack, even in cold weather. But it’s ideal, for sitting around camp on cool nights when I’m less active, sleeping in a cold weather sleeping bag, or sorting through my firewood pile outdoors.
If you can get a REI Merino Midweight Baselayer Top on sale, it’s a good deal. Even at full price, REI’s Merino and Synthetic baselayer tops are less expensive that equivalent garments from major brands and just as good. Hell, they’re probably made in the same factories in Vietnam.
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