Pros & Cons: Merino Wool Vs. Polyester Base Layer

The base layer is the most important item of clothing that you wear.

Never mind your waterproofs or your pocketed pants – foundation layering is life or death. Get it wrong and you will be sweating all day.

Get it right and you could survive in negative temperatures, all year around.

Here is a full list of the pros and cons of each fabric choice. Read on to find out which fabric is the best option for a base layer for hunting.

What Is Merino Wool?

Let’s start with the basics: what is merino wool? The Merino sheep is a species of sheep that we breed worldwide.

The species started in Spain, where it was the wool of the aristocracy. People have always favored merino sheep for the fine wool they give us.

It is finer than most wools, meaning the fibers interlock with each other easily.

In turn, this makes for tough, durable wool that weaves together nicely. It is difficult to tear or snag – or even cut – a sheet of merino wool.

If you do damage it, the fibers will work themselves out into the space to fill it.

Hunters like merino because it is temperature regulating. In the summer, the woolen fibers work hard to wick away moisture from your skin.

In the winter, using merino wool as a base layer lock in heat. In all seasons, it is soft and comfortable beside the skin.

The Pros of Merino Wool as a Base Layer

When it comes to buying a merino wool base layerthis fabric has far more pros than cons.

Some of the best reasons to choose merino wool as your hunting clothing base layer include:

  • It is odor resistant, and you can wear it for days at a time
  • It wicks away moisture from the surface of your skin
  • Merino wool is snag resistant
  • It is long-lasting
  • It doesn’t chaff or rub
  • It’s super-soft beside your skin

The Cons of Merino Wool as a Base Layer

However, it’s not all sweetness and light. Here are some reasons that a merino wool base layer for your hunting clothing might not suit you:

  • Merino wool smells a little like lanolin, the natural odor of wool
  • The fibers work themselves out of the fabric over time. This doesn’t affect your experience, but it does mean that the wool has special care requirements. Washing it with denim once every few months will take care of loose fibers.

What Is Polyester?

On the other hand, polyester is a textile fabric that is man made from polyester yarn.

It is a synthetic material which comes in different blends. Polyester is plastic based, made up of polymers.

This makes it water resistant, hard wearing, and good for outer garments. However, polyester is rigid and can chaff and rub the skin.

The Pros of Polyester as a Base Layer

There are a few pros to wearing polyester as your hunting clothing base layer. Here are some factors to consider:

  • It is waterproof
  • It is formed of long fibers which don’t tear easily
  • Polyester keeps the wind out

The Cons of Polyester as a Base Layer

Similarly, there are drawbacks to wearing polyester under your clothing. Here are a few reasons not to choose polyester base layers for your hunting gear:

  • It can chaff the skin
  • It is uncomfortable beside the skin
  • It doesn’t wick away moisture
  • When worn as a base layer it will make you damp

Which Is Right for Me?

Although the choice comes down to personal preference, we would challenge anyone that claimed polyester was better next to the skin than the gentle touch of merino wool.

Since the latter doesn’t scratch, itch, or irritate the skin, together with its moisture-wicking and odor-resistant properties, we vote for Merino Wool.

We believe once you try both products for yourself, you will too.

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