Regardless of what you call it base layers, body wear and thermals all are the close-fitting layer that are key to keeping warm and dry without the weight of heavy layers so you are free to move around comfortably. Here we will chat about why you should wear a merino base layer (and the quality of Merino you should know about!), how to wash your base layer, how a base layer should fit and what makes Kapeka's base layers superior by construction and performance.
Why wear a Merino base layer?
Merino wool is typically finer than regular wool making it more comfortable to wear as it shouldn't prickle the skin or make it itch - this is why it is generally recommended to wear specifically Merino base layers. However, one of the most searched questions about base layers on Google is "are Merino base layers itchy" - the answer to this all depends on the grade of Merino. Merino wool comes in a wide range of grades and quality. Coarser Merino can be up to 30 microns in diameter and are used for things like carpet whilst super-fine Merino is 17 micron. From our research, anything 19.5 and under microns will not itch or cause a prickling sensation on the skin therefore we recommend to only wear Merino base layers which use this grade or better. Our Merino clothing are crafted using Extra-Fine Merino wool. Extra-Fine Merino wool is 19.5 micron Merino wool which is thick enough to be able to spun tightly to create strong, resilient fabric. (For our Merinosilk range we use Super-fine Merino wool (17 micron) which we could not use for tightly spun clothing - however it makes excellent knitwear).
If a brand doesn't disclose the quality of Merino used it is usually for a reason!
How do you wash Merino Base Layers?
These instructions go for Kapeka's Merino base layers, other brands may vary as the construction and content will be different therefore what the garment can handle will differ. Kapeka's Merino base layers are totally machine-washable, we constructed the clothing to be strong and hard-wearing so it can be popped in a washing machine for convenience. We advise setting it to a wool or delicate setting, using warm or cold water and using wool wash (detergent). Wool wash is really the key to looking after your Merino base layers - as we use 100% Merino, it is a 100% natural fibre composition which normal detergents could potentially harm due to its harsher chemical nature.
So to summarise:
Wool/delicate cycle. Warm or cold water. Wool wash.
How should Merino wool Base layers fit?
When it comes to the fit of a Merino base layer it comes down to personal preference but normally it is somewhere between not being too tight nor too baggy or loose. Too tight and your movement may be restricted whilst also being uncomfortable. Too loose and it can catch on things or be difficult/uncomfortable to layer. Kapeka Merino base layers are designed to take your normal size and be fitting but not overly tight - you should be able to easily raise your arms, squat down and touch your toes (or nearly touch your toes if you're feeling tight!). As base layers are often worn while being active we designed our base layers with performance in mind, facilitating movement while staying warm and dry. Kapeka is a proud sponsor of The New Zealand Ski Team and the International Ski Racing Academy, the two teams both wear our base layers while training and under their ski suit - movement for them are key to their performance but they also need to be hardwearing and resistant to wear and tear.
What makes Kapeka's Base Layers (Bodywear) the best?
Our base layers are crafted for everyday AND active lifestyles. We understand that some people simply need an extra layer of warmth, a second skin day-to-day to keep them warm or at night to sleep in while others require warmth and protection while they're out getting active - through fit and design Kapeka's body wear is appropriate for both which can be worn alone or as a layer.
Bridget Morgan our head designer has put in 15 years of timely research to the source and craft of the fabrics here in New Zealand.
Kapeka's body wear was made to cover all bases, namely:
Kapeka's base layers are made out of 100% Extra-fine Merino wool which is spun into a fine strong yarn first then knitted into a dense fabric.
Kapeka's Merino wool also has very high crimp. The natural makes it soft and springy to the touch. It also adds bulk and traps a large volume of air between the fibres, giving it good insulation properties. It has taken many years to develop Merino sheep with this type of crimped fleece.
Kapeka's body wear is FernMark registered - a symbol issued by the New Zealand government to help convey a mark of authenticity and trust to customers worldwide.
In a year, one sheep will produce 5 Kapeka body wear garments!
We hope you have learned everything you need to on Merino base layers, body wear, thermals or what ever you decide to call it!
Thanks for reading!
The Kapeka Team.