Why did we produce a long sleeve merino top? Because of you guys.
We never wanted to be a one trick pony with just a short sleeve merino tee and have more ideas for great, locally made merino products than you can poke your hiking pole at. So, we went out to you lot several months ago with a number of questions and surveys to gauge interest for what product numero dos/two (merino originated in Spain did you know?) should be and the overwhelming majority said long sleeve.
But why long sleeve? Well, a long sleeve merino t-shirt is one of the most versatile and useful pieces of kit you can own. And, against what a few folk might thing, a long sleeve top ain't just for the cooler months when you're wanting to keep warm. Most of the feedback we've received from customer has been that they're buying a long sleeve for summer hiking.
Here’s a few of the reasons your long sleeve merino hiking top is great for both winter and summer hiking, and everything in between.
Long Sleeve Merino for Summer Hiking
Naturally UV Protective
Merino wool naturally offers great UV protection. According to the International Wool Textile Association (IWTA): “depending on the density of the fabric and how it has been treated and/or dyed, woollen apparel usually has a UPF of between 20 and 50”.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slip, slop, and slap, but by wearing a long sleeve merino top you’re providing your arms with that extra bit of protection to keep the sun off. This helps not only prevent sunburn, but the risk of skin cancers, and also helps with moisture retention when you hike. Many of our customers have a history of skin cancer and that's why they'll wear long sleeve and nothing else.
In a future iteration of our long sleeve tee we intend to include a collar or maybe even a hood for even better skin protection. Feel free to email us if you think this is a great or terrible idea. Haha.
Keeps the Bugs Off
As Tim wrote over on Australian Hiker: “Long clothing... provides protection from all the creepy crawlies. March flies, mosquitoes, ticks, leeches... The March flies in our alpine areas can, and do, bite though thinner clothing; and they hurt. Travel the Australian Alps over summer and autumn with bare skin and you will pay the price.”
If you’ve ever hiked in NZ you know how bad sandflies can get. They’ll zero in on any exposed skin. The less exposed skin the better.
Lightweight & Comfy
We often associate long sleeves with keeping warm. But, the Ottie Merino long sleeve top is made from a lightweight merino—the same weight as our short sleeve in fact—so when the weather warms up it won’t feel overly heavy or bulky.
Long Sleeve Merino For Winter Hiking
Traps the Heat
This is the most obvious benefit of a long sleeve top over a short sleeve top in winter. Extra material and skin coverage means extra warmth.
This is how it works with merino according to Woolmark: “The inherent natural 3D crimp of the wool fibre traps pockets of still air, insulating your skin from the cold environment and keeping you warmer. Wool maintains a drier microclimate next to skin, keeping the wearer warm and dry.”
When you’re doing physical activity even in cold temperatures you sweat. That’s when merinos fantastic moisture wicking qualities kick in ensuring you’re not water logged. And, when you sweat you can get smelly. That's where merinos odour resistant qualities come into their own. It really is the wonder fabric, isn't it?
Keeps the Wind at Bay
Our arms are our sails. If you’re anything like me, my arms are the first thing that catches the breeze. They're usually out in front of us when we hike.
Even a lightweight long sleeve merino tee provides a nice bit of wind resistance so that icy breeze doesn’t chill you to the core.
The Perfect Base Layer
If you’re not familiar with layering, check out Paddy Pallin’s great guide to layering. In winter, a long sleeve base layer is a must.
We’ve had some customers say to us: “but your tees are relaxed fit, that’s not really ideal for layering”. Generally a base layer is a layer that is worn super close to the skin. However, the way to achieve that with an Ottie Merino top is by choosing a size down from what you normally wear. You’ll still get a bit of extra length—our tees are designed to be a bit longer for optimal tucking—but you’ll get more of that traditional layering clinginess, which is all about trapping heat and wicking moisture.
That all said, for much of the hiking we do we don’t need to get super technical with our approach to layering. A long sleeve base layer that’s nicely fitted, a mid-layer (e.g. fleece), and a shell (i.e. rain coat) will keep us warm and comfortable and will allow us to shed layers as we warm up as that heart starts pumping.
As we all know, UV rays aren’t just a thing in summer but winter too. And if you’re hiking—or skiing or snowshoeing—in an alpine environment the UV rays can be even more intense and there is the reflectiveness of the snow to contend with. It’s recommended to practice good skin protection in the snow.