Brynje Thermo Mesh Review (Wool and Synthetic Base Layers)
Nov 1, 2019 at 6:54 am #3616851
Companion forum thread to: Brynje Thermo Mesh Review (Wool and Synthetic Base Layers)
This Brynje Thermo Mesh Review features both Super Thermo and Wool Thermo base layers utilizing an open-weave (fishnet) construction.Nov 1, 2019 at 2:45 pm #3616865Gary DunckelBPL Member
Andrew, this is a pretty good review and description of Brynje’s products. I have also become a fan boy of their mesh base layers. Last winter I purchased a full wool top and also a synthetic short sleeve T-shirt. Both performed VERY well while snowshoeing in +20* F temperatures. So much so that I had to unzip my GTX shell and hooded puffy to allow ventilation when grunting uphill.
I will add that I like to wear 200 wt merino layers over the base layers, which trap the body’s heat while still allowing wicking of any moisture. I think this would be ideal while sleeping in cold temperatures, though I haven’t put that to the test yet.
This fall I added a pair of synthetic leggings to round out my arsenal. I chose synthetic for its greater durability (I worried that wool would be weaker at the knee).
I came to like the original mesh layers when they “came out” back in the ’70s. I think mine saved my life back in 1974 when I found myself enduring a plunging temperature of about -35* F one night. I went into stage 1 hypothermia, while wearing a pair of Levis (that’s what the groovy manly dudes wore back then) and a good parka, sleeping in a down bag rated to just +15* F. I woke up shivering uncontrollably, managed to fire up my Optimus 8R stove, and proceded to pound down a bunch of cup-a-soups, hot chocolate, and anything else that had calories. A warm glow came over me (which could have been descent into stage 2?). At this point I decided to blow off trying to break camp and ski a mile uphill back to my car at the pass at 3 AM. I fortunately survived, and I attribute that to the fish net base layers.Nov 1, 2019 at 7:04 pm #3616897Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
I’ve been using fishnet since they arrived on the scene in the 1970s, back then cotton or cotton blends, sometimes fully synthetic. I once found wool fishnet but it was too itchy for me. I’ve been using Bryjne more recently and am very happy with it. Somehow I can’t convince anyone else to try them, maybe this article will help.
Note that you can occasionally find the older kind of fishnet on eBay or Etsy much cheaper than Bryjne, but you have to compete with a sort of kinky crowd who wears fishnet at parties with nothing over it.
A quick note about getting really cold. While waiting for food to cook in -10 degF weather and below in the evenings in the ADKs we used to run 50 feet or so and back again in deep snow. This is pretty strenuous and it always warmed us up, at least for a while. I never found myself shivering uncontrollably, so I can’t say if it would work in this case, but it’s worth a try. Of course you’d have to get out of your sleeping bag, a daunting proposition when it’s really cold, but it’s better than freezing to death!Nov 2, 2019 at 11:43 am #3616963john hansfordBPL Member
Sorry to nitpick, but I think you meant the mesh size was 3/16”, not 3/8”. (1/2cm not 1cm).Nov 2, 2019 at 5:53 pm #3616999
Hey John. No worries! So in the photo the holes appear small (3/16) but when stretched out on a body (particularly across my torso) they are within a whisper of being 3/8 (the claimed size on Brynje’s website). These garments have a lot of stretch.Nov 2, 2019 at 5:58 pm #3617002
Hi Gary! Yeah they are great for snowshoeing, cc skiing, etc. I’ve also found myself puffing up hill in nothing but a fishnet t-shirt. Like you, I think synthetic is a great way to go for leggings.Nov 2, 2019 at 9:49 pm #3617018
I’ve been a Brynje fan for years and have been plugging it here ad nauseam.
I do think that you get a bit more warmth-for-weight – but as you say, the key benefit is moisture management. It really comes into its own:
- In wet cold when you might be getting damp under your rainwear
- For active use in dry cold when sweating, when you’re at risk of flash cooling when you stop
- For any water-based activity in the cold when you might be in a survival situation if you get an unexpected soaking.
In these scenarios, it traps a layer of warm air against your skin, insulating you from your damp or wet outer layers. In my experience, this makes a significant difference to your comfort and safety.
It also works fine as a general base layer – so if you’re on a long hike with mixed conditions there’s no reason not to use it all the time. But the benefits are more marginal in warmer weather, though if you get very sweaty it does help to keep moisture off your skin which can reduce the risk of chafing under pack-straps etc.
To get the best out of it, I like to cap it with a fast-wicking lightweight base layer with a deep zip for dumping heat. This way it can handle a very wide temperature range without any faff.
I’ve only used the polypro version. It’s not the most comfortable against the skin, but that’s not really noticeable in use. It’s very hard-wearing and dries in a flash on the body. But get one of the darker colours – the white gets a bit grubby over time. And you might want to size up – the cut is tight.
Ideal for cold and rainy areas like the PNW, Scotland, Scandinavia or New Zealand. And for winter walking, climbing or ski-touring. Hillary wore Brinje to the top of Everest – it’s an idea that’s been proven for over half a century. It really does work. So don’t be put off by the “interesting” looks and give it a try!Nov 3, 2019 at 7:28 am #3617081Rex SandersBPL Member
I tried 1970s mesh and wasn’t impressed. Seemed like the slightest breeze through or under outer layers would chill me much quicker with mesh vs fleece or similar.
Has that problem been fixed?
— RexNov 3, 2019 at 10:16 am #3617089Rick MBPL Member
Millet also has Drynamic Mesh underwear that has been available for the last 5 seasons or so I think. Synthetic but also less expensive.Nov 3, 2019 at 12:25 pm #3617099
Rick – thanks for the heads-up – the Drynamic looks well made at a great price-point. Though their marketing pretty much claims they invented the idea, which is cheeky considering it’s basically a copy of something Brynje have been doing for half a century. Interesting that they lead on the moisture management advantages rather than warmth-to-weight.
Aclima in Norway do a range of wool mesh that competes directly with Brynje. Haven’t tried it but it looks high quality – at the usual eye-watering Scandinavian prices:
And many cycling suppliers do synthetic mesh tops, but I’ve see a couple of examples and they seemed too fine a weave to do the job for hikers. I think that the optimal mesh should be thick enough to keep the capping layer well off your skin and create significant air pockets.Nov 3, 2019 at 12:31 pm #3617100
Rex – for me the cooling effect you mention is actually an advantage.
Tightly capped, and you heat up fast when it’s chilly.
A little draught and you stay warm in moderate cold without overheating when you’re working hard.
Open up the over-layers and you can dump heat instantly.
So provided you have good zips on your over-layers it’s easier to fine tune your temperature without having to change layers so often.Nov 3, 2019 at 5:48 pm #3617120
I’ve been a lifetime subscriber for many more years than most. I enjoy the vicarious experiences of the trip reports and also seek to learn from the product reviews. Notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary about even-handedness, I’m always annoyed by the subtle biases and discriminations that seem to repeatedly occur on this site. This review of the fishnet underwear market is the latest example.
I have no fault to find with Brynje products (except the currently outlandish prices, and the fact that the last time I checked they’re not readily available from US vendors.). I’ve owned and used the Brynje fishnets (the Thermo synthetics) for years and they perform as expected. I find it curious, however, that fishnet underwear has been made and sold in the US for over twenty years by a company in CO named Wiggy’s, and yet the company and their product is not even mentioned in the review. No moderately informed reviewer could be unaware of the Wiggy’s fishnet underwear.
I’ve been using Wiggy’s products longer than I’ve been a Backpacking Light subscriber. The company makes excellent products at fair prices and the items perform as advertised. Interestingly, however, no mention of Wiggy’s or their “made-in-the-USA” products ever appears on Backpacking Light. I wonder why? Since the products are excellent, there must be some other explanation for them being ignored (yes, they’re routinely a bit heavier/bulkier than the super-light-weight down stuff many folks prefer, but they don’t fail in inclement weather. (Check out the recent story about the PCT hiker who was rescued when all his down gear failed in a storm and he nearly perished.).)
I’m reluctantly led to conclude that the complete exclusion of any reviews or even mention of Wiggy’s products (fishnets, in this case) must be related to either politics, or previous hurt feelings (yes, the owner of Wiggy’s is rude and blunt), or could it be anti-semitism? Since one of the stated purposes of Backpacking Light is to educate and inform the subscribers (many of whom are neophytes), I consider it a shame that decent American products are shunned.
(By the way, I own and use both the Brynje and the Wiggy’s fishnets. Both have pros and cons, but both perform well. The relative pricing makes Wiggy’s a far better value.)Nov 3, 2019 at 8:55 pm #3617147Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
A lack of articles may mean very few have any experience with the stuff. More obscure explanations are not needed. So – write an article yourself! Include photos, weights and prices of course.
PCT hiker who was rescued when all his down gear failed in a storm and he nearly perished.
I suggest it was NOT his down gear which failed, but rather his management of that down gear. Let your down gear, or your synthetic gear for that matter, get soaking wet and you have only yourself to blame. Even if you fall in a river, your warmth gear should be suitably protected inside your pack. Only a poor workman blames his tools.
CheersNov 3, 2019 at 9:32 pm #3617156
Thanks for the heads-up about Wiggy’s fishnet. I’ve been wanting to try fishnets but didn’t want to pay the high prices. You mentioned pros and cons relating to Brynje vs Wiggy’s Could you elaborate a bit more?Nov 4, 2019 at 7:51 pm #3617283Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
Early this summer I wore a Polartec Delta LS top while doing a bunch of training hikes up and down a ski-hill here in Southeast Michigan in preparation for a trip out west. The Delta fabric works reasonably well on hot, humid days, and with built-in UPF protection, I don’t have to slather on the sunblock. What I don’t like about Polartec Delta is the somewhat coarse knit of the fabric. After a while it becomes quite irritating on the shoulders with a pack on. At the end of a training session, I could take off the Delta top to change into a dry cotton T-shirt, and the skin on my shoulders would be covered with a reverse impression of the knit in the shirt. Less than desirable.
I can’t imagine wearing any significant winter pack weight with a fishnet baselayer. That’s where I think the new Brynje would set itself apart from the cheaper Wiggy’s stuff. The Wool Thermo T-Shirt has solid panels on the shoulder to reduce chafing. It’s unfortunate that Brynje didn’t carry this design element through to any long sleeved fishnet tops I see offered on their website.Nov 5, 2019 at 4:30 pm #3617390
Hey Jeff! Good question about pack weight + fishnet layers. I can tell you that the Wool Thermo mesh is pretty darn soft. I wear it under a thin merino hoodie when I’m generating heat on winter hikes, and it didn’t bother me with pack weight of close to 40 lbs. But, like you said, there are those shoulder panels.Nov 5, 2019 at 5:33 pm #3617393StumphgesBPL Member
The Brynje blog pitching the polypro versions: https://www.brynjeusa.com/adventure-blog/making-the-case-for-a-synthetic-mesh-base-layer/
Interesting that Schoeller makes the polypro Super Thermo fabric and that Brynje claims that they’ve successfully addressed polypro’s infamous stink factor. Andrew, did you find the Super Thermo to be more or less stinky than a typical polyester base layer?
Not sure it was mentioned in the review, but Schoeller also makes the lightweight 80/20 wool/nylon version. I would bet it’s pretty durable.
Also, Andrew, Ryan did a more technical review of mesh baselayers some years ago, where he stated that mesh baselayers were likely to result on the wearer more finely adjusting their internal temperature – due to more moisture staying on the skin and remaining sensible than if wicked away – either by slowing down or adjusting layers. Did you find this to be the case in use?Nov 6, 2019 at 2:30 am #3617430Rob PBPL Member
Nordiclife.co.uk has the long sleeve polypro and wool mesh with inlays on their website…that’s where I’ve purchased most of my Brynje items.Nov 6, 2019 at 3:02 am #3617434Iago VazquezBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
I used a Brynje t-shirt last winter in the Whites and I was very happy with its performance. I was never too hot or too cold. It seemed to make layering less fiddly–I didn’t need to adjust my layers as much as other times in the past to avoid excessive sweat or getting too cold.
Regarding the choice between Wiggy’s vs. Brynje’s, for me it was a question of material. Wiggy’s seems to be nylon and Brynje’s polypro, so I chose the latter as I have the impression that it should dry faster. But I have never used anything but synthetic Brynje so I really don’t know. From a financial, standpoint, Brynje on sale last year was $40 on Amazon. I looked at the Nordic Life link, and it’s about the same shipped to the US for a short sleeve top.Nov 6, 2019 at 4:17 pm #3617488
Thanks for all the great information, guys. Just ordered a Super Thermo with inlays from Nordiclife. We’ll see how it goes.Nov 7, 2019 at 2:34 pm #3617619
You asked for elaboration on my comment about both Brynje and Wiggy’s fishnets having pros and cons. If you haven’t already done so, I’d start by looking at the products on the Brynje and Wiggy’s websites. Here are my subjective observations:
Brynje (I’ve only used the synthetics, not the wool versions):
- Fit very well and are soft and very comfortable.
- The openings are pretty small, and seem to get smaller with laundering.(I’m guessing bigger openings function better than smaller openings.)
- VERY EXPENSIVE, and then shipping from Europe adds even more to the total cost.
Wiggy’s (only offers synthetics):
- I find the bodies run snug. I’m not a big guy (5’6″/145 lbs), nor have a huge belly, and I buy the wiggy’s tops in Large to get the looseness I want in the torso. The downside is the arms are SUPER LONG. I’ve taken several Wiggy’s tops to the local seamstress and had the sleeves shortened. It adds a few bucks to the cost (still way cheaper than Brynje), but it makes them fit me better.
- The opening holes are larger than Brynje and don’t seem to contract from laundering. I prefer the larger openings.
- The Wiggy’s material is “harder/stiffer” than the Brynje (I think this helps create/preserve the “standoff” gap between your skin and the outer garment layer). Once you’re wearing the Wiggy’s stuff under an outer shirt, you don’t notice it, but overall I’d say I find the Brynje material is softer.
That’s about it. Both brands are great. For no particular reason, I find I tend to pull the Wiggy’s out of the drawer more often than the Brynje.
I am a big fan of wearing the fishnet tops. I own the bottoms, but frankly don’t find I think they add as much advantage as the tops. I tend to wear the fishnet bottoms under insulated ski pants, but when I’m going hiking in regular trousers I either don’t wear long bottoms or I often wear the very lightest versions of Smartwool/Icebreaker long underwear bottoms.
I hope this helps. (Oh, Wiggy’s also sells a mesh weave top they call a “second layer” that is very air-permeable and they suggest wearing it over the fishnets and under the outer shirt. I use it, and it really does add considerable warmth. If it’s warmer than about 30 degrees, I don’t use it, or I get too hot.)Nov 7, 2019 at 2:47 pm #3617621
I just noticed your comments about fishnets under the pressure of heavy packstraps. Yep! That can be an issue, particularly for folks who aren’t regularly carrying heavy packs. Of course by about the second day on the trail with a heavy pack for people who aren’t accustomed to it, the fishnets and any “impressions” will probably be less noticeable than the overall discomfort of the the sore shoulders.
I’ve found that the only “solution” (apart from not wearing the fishnets, which in my view is a less satisfactory approach) is to toughen up your tolerance and your skin by doing more wearing the fishnets, and as that infamous WDC scoundrel Marion Barry replied when asked about him being re-elected mayor: “Get used to it!”Nov 7, 2019 at 2:55 pm #3617624
Re the comment about drying time and different materials:
I’m no materials expert, but I have both the Brynje and Wiggy’s sythetics (no clue about the materials composition) and they both dry super-quick and I don’t see any noteworthy difference. If there’s any slight difference, it would be that the Brynje are softer and “spongier” than the Wiggy’s (which are a harder weave) and when actually wearing them, I seem to detect that the Brynje holds moisture and can feel damp a bit more than the Wiggy’s (I dry both in the drier, although I’m not sure you’re “supposed” to, and either one dries in a flash.).Nov 7, 2019 at 9:27 pm #3617676
After reading your comments, I’m thinking that I’d be fine with either one. I wasn’t about to pay the price Byrnje USA was asking, so I contacted Wiggy’s. Unfortunately, they don’t ship to Colorado, so I went with ordering from Nordic Life in the UK. Even with the $19 cost of shipping, the total price is substantially less than it would be to get it from Byrnje USA.Nov 7, 2019 at 11:22 pm #3617691
I’m sure you’ll enjoy your new Brynje fishnets.
That’s a bummer about Wiggy’s not shipping within CO. I don’t live in CO and I’d forgotten about this policy that started earlier this year. Wiggy’s probably explained it to you, but for the other, curious, readers, the story is: Colorado, like several of the greedy tax states that need ever-increasing revenue to fund your “Free Stuff,” has passed a law requiring online venders to track, collect, pay, and keep records, for the sales tax laws of every little taxing jurisdiction in the state, based on the shipping address of the buyer. This requirement obviously adds tremendous additional overhead for the merchant to cover the administrative record-keeping. Wiggy’s decided to just stop selling by mail order within CO. In-state buyers now either have to go to the store in Grand Junction (and simply pay the GJ local tax), or have some work-around with somebody out of state who will receive the shipment and then get it to the recipient.
It’s a scandal when our greedy laws force us to forego American made products and buy foreign goods from abroad at higher prices. Perhaps if the Brits can ever extricate themselves from the EU, the Brynje prices from Nordiclife might improve.
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