I’m a big believer in the layering system when it comes to clothing on the trail. I typically wear the same base layers every time I hike. I’ve tried several different pieces of clothing, but I’ve settled on the shirt and shorts that I believe provide the best value. If you browse through old posts on here, you’ll notice that I’m wearing he same blue merino shirt and black shorts.
I recently replaced these items for 2017. Since I bought the same brands for a second time, I thought I’d finally blog about them. I probably got a thousand miles out of these items of clothing. They’re not even trashed. I just lost so much weight that I moved down in sizes for both.
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If you shop through any Amazon link on this website, you support me at no cost to yourself. Learn more in my disclosure.
This shirt is merino wool, which means it will keep you warm even when it’s wet. I’m allergic to wool, but I have no adverse reactions to merino. It’s breathable, but it won’t dry as fast as a synthetic shirt. That said, the wet wool also serves to keeps you cool in the summer.
I’ve read a lot of reviews that claim merino is too fragile for backpacking. That hasn’t been my experience, but I haven’t done a months-long thru-hike. I imagine that any shirt will wear thin from friction after thousands of miles of walking.
The reason that merino beats synthetic in my mind—and the reason it’s easy to justify the price difference between the two—is because merino smells much better than synthetic after long periods of activity. At worst, you smell like a wet dog (or a wet sheep, to be specific).
There are 2 downsides to this particular shirt in my opinion. The color fades from sweat stains. Using a magic eraser or similar product will bring much of the vibrance back, but it’s still noticeable over time. I’ve also poked several holes in it by catching the fabric in my hip belt clasp. That’s technically user error, but I feel like a synthetic shirt would hold up better.
I hate shorts that fall below my knees. I wish that fad would go away already. It’s not just about fashion; long shorts are too restrictive when your activity involves climbing and scrambling. The fabric catches on your knees. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, that can be dangerous.
These shorts come with a 6″ or 10″ inseam. I prefer the 6″. I also wear these to the gym because they’re great for yoga.
The fabric is durable, the black color hides dirt, and there are pockets galore. The waistband is elastic, so you don’t have to wear a belt that might interfere with your pack’s hip belt. They’re technically made for fly fishing, so the fabric dries very quickly. Add in the fact that they’re comfortable and you can understand why I’ve purchased a pair in each available color.
The only downside I have experienced with these shorts is that the mesh on the front thigh pockets is fragile. That said, you have 4 other pickets you can use instead. Buy these shorts!