I Review: Patagonia Merino Air Hoody
This is an ode to the BEST DAMN [winter] BASELAYER EVER MADE.
Seriously, I love this thing as much as I hate early mornings (both evinced below).
This is the base layer you want in the winter. It is incredibly warm and has a scuba hood so that you can quickly and easily protect your entire face, ears, and head. If you hate that hat under the helmet feeling- this hood will save you. I love that I don't have to pack a buff or face-mask when I am wearing this layer unless I know the conditions are going to be especially brutal- just pop that hood up and put on the gogs.
This layer's thin but the lofty Merino wool gives it serious power in keeping warmth, especially if you have a shell of some sort on. The turtleneck that forms if you have the hood down keeps that precious core heat in. If you get overly warm and take your outer layers off, this light weave also dumps heat really well. This sounds contradictory that it keeps heat and dumps it- yes it's a magical hoody. Accept it.
Because this hoodie is made from merino wool it doesn't stink and wicks moisture like crazy! I wore this for 5 days straight on a backpacking trip in the Peruvian Andes and I swear it didn't smell at the end of the trip. It's also so comfortable I would definitely sleep in it if I didn't absolutely have to take my sports bra off to be able to sleep so at that point you may as well change layers.
Seriously, this thing is soft. I have allergies to everything (EVERYTHING) and am very sensitive to scratchy wool fabrics. This sucker is soft as a baby's butt.
I say this layer is the best winter layer because I prefer wearing synthetic materials in warm weather as they keep me cooler. I also find that you can go cheap on summer layers sooooo I do. This wool crap is spensive.
Apparently Patagonia has pressed pause on their wool offerings - which means you can't buy this beautiful piece unless you find it on ebay or the like. They explain here that they are working to more responsibly source their wool for their clothing. INSIDER KNOWLEDGE ALERT!!!! So this one time I worked on a sheep farm in Patagonia for a few weeks.
This farm belongs to a wool co-op that used to sell its super fine merino wool to Patagonia (INCEPTION- literally everything I am wearing in the pic above is from Patagonia, my baselayer is hiding under my better sweater). Then some animal rights group came on some farms in the co-op and took pictures/video during shearing and lambing which got publicity for animal cruelty and Patagonia stopped sourcing from this co-op. It looks like Patagonia has decided to resource completely.
Sheep farming (all animal farming for that matter) is hard and dirty work. Whitney and I would walk the creeks/rivers on the farm for hours almost every day looking for the sheep that got themselves trapped in the mud. If we found them alive we would pull them out and get them away from the water (mind you these are almost to term pregnant ewes with water logged wool - this was hard). Often they would already be dead but we would still pull them out. Older ewes would have a hard time carrying their lambs to term and if they happened to be pregnant with twin often those babies die inside them and that kills the mom. Every single day we dealt with dead sheep. If we found them soon after they died before their meat spoiled, we would bring them back to the meat shed and butcher them for the sheep dogs. Guys, this is life on the farm. Animals will die no matter how well you treat them. The owners of our farms deeply cared for and respected their animals. When we would find the older ewes who could no longer walk because their babies were too heavy, we would take them back to the "hospital" (aka shearing barn) and care for them the best we could by giving them fresh water and hay and keeping them warm. We did this with over 20 ewes. Every single one of them died.
Shearing is tough business. The animals are manhandled because that is the only way to get the job done. If you didn't shear them, they would die. I grew up raising animals so working on this farm wasn't shocking to me but I can see how images or video of what occurred would seem cruel. I obviously can only speak to the farm I was on but usually with those videos there is more to the story. Some videos depict completely inexcusable behavior though, so I highly commend Patagonia for doing it's best to source from animals that are cared for properly. This is a big reason why half of my outdoors clothing is from Patagonia.
Also, this baselayer is great for chicken farming.