Like many other backpackers in the last decade, Kristin and I have switched from synthetic to Merino wool baselayers. Merino wool is soft, handles moisture comfortably, and has natural anti-microbial properties. I like that wool is a renewable resource, and therefore prefer it to petroleum-derived synthetics. However, wool is generally more expensive and it doesn't last as long. I tend to get holes in my lightweight (150-200 g/m2) wool layers after 120 days of use.

Synthetic fabrics have superior wicking ability, quicker dry time, better durability and are generally cheaper. Some companies, like GoLite and Patagonia, have started to address the environmental concern by using recycled content in their fabrics.

So, which one should a backpacker choose?

Well, it may no longer be a choice between one or the other, as Rab tries to bridge these two worlds with their new MeCo baselayers. Rab combined Merino wool and Cocona to create a fabric that wicks and dries like a synthetic, but smells and feels like wool. We tested these baselayers to see if they live up to Rab's claims.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Performance
  • Environmental Concerns
  • Weight Comparisons
  • Assessment
  • Specifications and Features
    • Weights of Tested Shirts

# WORDS: 1970
# PHOTOS: 9

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