How I became a Merinoholic
Over the course of the past few months, (if you read this blog) you will know I have been upgrading my wardrobe to be more up-to date and comfortable by adding new pieces of clothing. One thing I have learned, is love is merino wool. I am, as described by Minus 33, becoming a Merinoholic (someone addicted to wool). When I was very young (dating myself here) my mother used to dress me in a wool outer suit to play outside in the New Hampshire winters. After hours in the snow you may have been warm, but you had little balls of snow all over the suit (think Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story). It was a pain in the rear to take on and off and you could barely move it was so damn bulky. Now I am hot natured and enjoy the outdoors and I hate to sweat – well I don’t mind sweating but hate it clinging to or dripping off me. Cotton socks and shirts would soak up that sweat and hold it and after a couple of hours, wet feet made for a ripe smell and athletes foot and shirts looked like I walked thru a sprinkler. Fast forward to the 2000’s, I started trying those new “man-made wicking fibers” and found them to be sticky on the body and clammy. So I decided to give wool socks a try on the advice of a friend and lo and behold, my feet have never been happier. But shirts made of wool? I think not. They would be itchy and hot, but I did some more research and I discovered that today’s wool is way different.
Wool is measured in microns. Old school wool was 21 microns or larger, 18.5 microns and below ensure a comfortable, non-itch feel against your skin. Merino is breathable, insulating, fire resistant, flexible, resilient and offers UV protection. Best of all, while I was doing my research, I discovered a company right up the road from me in Ashland, NH called Minus 33. So last October when I needed to replace worn out base layers I picked up a long sleeve undershirt to put beneath sweaters and my jackets so I naturally turned to Minus 33 as I know wool is warm. It ended up being my go t shirt day after day. True to its word, Merino wool is warm, dries quickly, is stretchable, looks good and best of all is antimicrobial, meaning it’s odor free! I read where several people had worn their shirts for weeks without washing them and thought “wow I can’t do that”. That is until I wore it 10 times – not days (although close) but times in a row without washing and found it to be fine. So naturally when summer starting to make its way to NH, I called them and picked up a short sleeve polo and tee shirt. Now I know you are thinking wool, in summer, that’s crazy as wool is hot. But as stated above, wool dries quickly….it wicks the sweat away providing you with a mini AC effect while drying super-fast and again, NO ODOR. I have worn said shirts in weather ranging from 55 degrees and raining to 95, 65% dew point and sweltering, the whole time being more comfortable than my old dripping wet cotton tees or sticky in my manmade polyesters and “wicking” shirts. Besides writing this blog, I own a newspaper and represent a beer company, so I am outside 6 days a week, in and out of my car and stores, taking photos indoors and outside, lifting beer cases, writing stories and visiting with store owners and managers. The last thing I like is walking in their business in a shirt dripping with sweat and when we had this 6-day hot spell here week or so ago where it was in the high 90’s every day and dew points were tropical it was miserable outside, I switched the 2 shirts out with a few other summer shirts I own and they came through with flying colors. Each year my wife, myself and another couple attend Brewfest in Lincoln, NH. This year, it poured 4 of the 5 hours we were there, and the temperature hovered around 70 degrees. The day before we left I washed all my wool in Eucalen soap to clean them and by doing this I got an added bonus in the form of a nice water-resistant coating (natural to wool) to the shirts so even though I was wet I was always warm and it shed enough of the water to keep me somewhat dry. At the end of the festival and by the time we arrived at the restaurant for a late supper, it was back to dry and still holding its shape. Two days later I was wearing the polo - the temperature was 96 but the “it feels like temp” was 105 as the dewpoint registered 68%. Now in a cotton shirt I would be dripping and looking like I showered in my shirt BUT in the wool tee, although I was still dripping, it wicked it away fast enough my shirt always looked dry. Since then I have been hiking a few times, played frisbee golf, out to dinner and over to friends for get togethers sharing events between the 2 shirts. The shirts can be dressed up or kept casual depending on what you pair with them and have gotten more comfortable with each washing. I will be adding more items over time.
Minus 33 can be located at www.minus33.com. Here you can find more information on merino wool, care of the wool and of course, their great products.
A Penacook resident. All thoughts and writings are his opinions and his alone.