For those who I'm friends with, you may know that I'm a WoolX ambassador, meaning I get to test out a bunch of their pieces and represent the brand. In doing so, I've gained a lot of experience with merino wool - seeing how it works in different environments, activities, and weights. As with most ambassador/athlete programs, with the seasons, there's pieces they'd like for me to focus on more than others, but there's one I've consistently gone back to, continuing to enjoy it on-and-off the camera, the Base Camp Hoody.
- 160g/m² (lightweight)
- 100% Australian merino wool
- Thumb-loops, quarter zipper chest, hood
- Flat-lock seams with non-shrink properties (dryable)
- $69 (USD) @ WoolX
For all-around use and climbing, the BCH (Base Camp Hoody) covers the bases:
- cut a little longer than your regular shirt, so it sits nicely underneath a harness and tucks well into pants
- seams are flat-lock, so when you're rubbing against rock walls or against layers and packs, it won't cause chaffing
- quarter-zip at the chest allows for aggressive venting
- the snug hood is unobtrusive, allowing for an easy fit under helmets
- the thumb-loops help to prevent sleeves from riding up when layering mid-layers and jackets, they also provide extra warmth when you don't need your palms to be exposed
- the BCH is a lightweight piece, weighing as much as a regular shirt, so it's not really adding any extra weight to your pack
- the merino wool is naturally crimped, so it'll stretch with movement
This is definitely one of the BCH's (and WoolX's) strongest suits.
- silky smooth: merino wool is already a very fine fibre, at around 24 microns, but WoolX grabs extra fine merino wool for their pieces. Standard weight pieces come in at 18.5 microns, and their lightweight ones (like the BCH) come in at 17.5, making it feel more like cashmere next to skin.
- comfort for days: merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, which is why it's normally the choice for extended trips. It holds off that grimy feeling and smells. I've sweat through the BCH and worn it the day after without any discomfort. Something I like to do is wrap my travel pillow in the BCH (or an equivalent piece) to avoid that grimy bed head feeling.
- comfort when wet: if you're perspiring pretty hard and wetting out the BCH, it doesn't stick to the body as much like synthetics and cotton. It's still not a great feeling, but the wool feels much better and will dry quicker than cotton.
Merino wool feels more like an organic and (semi)living piece of equipment, so it'll naturally find a home in a variety of scenarios.
- in the hot: admittedly, I prefer synthetics in the dead of summer heat since I run pretty warm and need anything that will mimic shirtlessness, but merino wool still has a home when I'm in the shade, or need a fresh and comfortable piece of clothing in the evening
- shoulder season: in my opinion, this is what merino wool was made for. Shoulder seasons mean mild temps in the sun, and cold times in the shade - merino wool does a great job adapting to both. I find synthetics and cotton have a "fixed" temperature setting, while merino wool will adapt with your body and the ambient. Combine merino wool with a nice wind-breaking layer, and you're golden.
- in the cold: this is likely when most folks will be reaching for merino wool pieces, and for good reason - it's warm! Heavier weight merino wool pieces weigh a little more than their synthetic counterparts, but as mentioned earlier, they're adaptable and hold off grim - so it's your call on what you prioritize. Lightweight pieces like the BCH are comparable to their synthetic counterparts, so there's no sacrifice there. Also, if you really screw up and soaked your merino layer, it'll still maintain its warmth.
Sometimes it's quite disheartening to spend so much on gear that rarely gets to be used. We have those specialty pieces that are absolutely necessary, but have poor cost-to-use ratios... which is why it's nice to have things like the BCH in the closet.
I've packed this for almost every trip I've been on, and found myself reaching for it whenever everything else felt uncomfortable to wear after days of being a greaseball. It's consistently performed in all types of environments and has earned my personal badge of approval.
Though I am a WoolX ambassador, I can honestly recommend this piece to anyone, from the casual adventurer to the seasoned vet.