18 Jan Why Merino?
Last winter, we began the hunt for a base layer that performed in the cold; after our own polyester offering, we decided, was rubbish. That, and two other man-made layers I owned, left me feeling cold and clammy even after stopping at traffic lights. I dreaded leaving the coffee stop for the chill that hit the chest, before the helmet was on.
A baselayer works by transporting the sweat away from the skin and into the next layer of fabric. The desired result is the skin stays warm while the fabric is cooling down from drying. So if we got the base layer right, and made our skin feel good, the head follows on cold March mornings.
So we looked at all available options: simple polyester,bamboo, cotton and merino and the best synthetics for a material to make our next garment. And for training nothing comes close to 100% Merino. Most polypropylene fabric is totally non-absorbent, so has better moisture transfer for competitive use, but the package pure Merino offers, is hard to match for warmth, wicking and repeated use. In an world led by technology and the latest human innovation, it is comforting to return to a natural fabric, soft next to the skin which performed across a vast temperature range. The best thing about merino base layers is that they retain heat and their thermal properties even when wet. Sold.
We sourced New Zealand Merino Wool, woven on the South Island. It is naturally dyed and fine finished to be itch free. The material is then machined together using a 4-needle flat stitch to reduce irritation. The insulation offered by merino wool comes down to the shape of the fibres – like small rose thorns – and the fact that they don’t compress as much when wet, unlike cotton. This helps maintain the air-filled gaps between the fibres, working to retain warmth. It comes in different weights to suit different temperatures, from lightweight to thermal insulation. For our Winter/Spring Long sleeve after testing we settled on 200gram fabric weight.
The market is full of expensive 100% merino garments and cheaper merino mixes, which don’t work as well next to the skin. So after sourcing the factory we have refined the samples and purchased a lot! So confident are we in both the quality and performance of this garment that we say it is as good as anything out there, even at double the retail price.
The cut is designed only for cycling, slightly tapered on the waist, long tail and offering a close but unrestrictive fit. It comes in five sizes, from small to XXL. Our logo is embroidered, in white, on the high 7cm high-stretch neck. Extra long arms seal all drafts and finish the package.
“……..you just put it on and it feels right”
We have lighter, crew neck 150gram short sleeved base layers for Summer and Autumn use and are developing some racing jerseys made from this magic fabric.
Galibier and merino partnership will be a long one.