About the author

Tim Moss

Tim Moss has supported over 100 expeditions across all seven continents. He has climbed new mountains, crossed a desert on foot and recently cycled 13,000 miles around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society London and a Guinness World Record Holder. He aims to encourage more people to live adventurously. Read more...

15 Comments

  1. 1

    Lizzy

    Tim,

    Interesting post! I have been a convert to merino after wearing my helly’s for everything I’ve done since Norway to about 3 months ago. They did loose the elastic in Norway but I blame that on the sea salt more than the tops themselves. But got the everyday ice breakers to try and save money and they loose their shape massively between washes – was given a 260 top by my old work as uniform – and wore it nearly everyday the air con was cold! and it never lost its shape was lovely! Ice breaker say this is due to the stitching they have changed it since bringing out red ram and now everyday in their 150,200, and 260 weights stuff, so was just wondering what ice breaker it was you had. As thinking about getting another proper one – had to return my uniform when I left :(

    Reply
  2. 2

    Tim Moss

    Hi Lizzy, my Icebreaker’s a bit warn now so I can’t read the label properly. It’s Icebreaker 200 and looks, from their website, just like a Mondo Long Sleeve Half Zip.

    It’s less that it’s lost its shape over time though and more than it’s just not as stretchy, close fitting and figure hugging as my bamboo top or Helly (and I think that’s the material rather than the cut).

    Reply
  3. 3

    Dean

    Hi Tim,

    In reference to your comments on bamboo vs. Merino:

    Could you please advise if this also applies to ‘socks’ as well as tops??

    I’m wanting to find socks that not only pull moisture away from the skin, but also keep your feet cooler when enclosed in footwear. I.e. Leather shoes, boots etc.

    Thanks kindly,

    Dean, NZ.

    Reply
    1. 3.1

      Tim Moss

      Hi Dean,

      Good question. I’ve used a few different types of bamboo socks now, they’re pretty common even in menswear departments these days, but they really vary from brand to brand.

      I reckon they’d definitely be worth a try. They’ll almost certainly be tougher and cheaper than merino. My Bridgedale bamboo hiking socks have been good, for example, but, for what you’re describing, I’d probably not recommend BAM’s bamboo socks. Sticking with regular looking hiking socks that just happen to include some bamboo is probably your best bet.

      Do let me know how you get on or fire away with any more specifics.

      Tim.

      Reply
      1. 3.1.1

        Michael

        I wear Explorer bamboo socks for work and find them much better than the wool ones. I did 26 years in the Army and always wore Explorers out bush but prefer the bamboo ones now.

      2. 3.1.2

        Michael

        I must also add that most of the time it was in the tropics around North Queensland.

  4. 4

    Zoe McCardle

    Hi Tim,
    Very interesting blog, I work for a clothing/underwear company that sells bamboo, silk and cashmere products. I have tried out our bamboo thermals when I go into the mountains to snowboard and walk. I find them excellent, they seem to regulate your temperature and like you say they feel much softer and more comfortable. If its ok by you I would like to use your article on our facebook page ? We are called silkyboo and you can find us at http://www.silkyboo.com
    thank you
    Zoe

    Reply
    1. 4.1

      Tim Moss

      Thanks for the link Zoe. You are most welcome to share this on your Facebook page. You may also like my article comparing bamboo to cotton and merino wool – http://thenextchallenge.org/comparison-base-layer-materials/.

      Reply
  5. 5

    Pamela

    Hi Tim,
    I have read your article on the comparison of different materials as well as this article.
    They are both comprehensive and good, however, you did not mention anything about the warmth and this could be an important factor as well.
    The bamboo material sounds interesting and I recently saw the Trekmates bamboo baselayer at my local store. It isn’t expensive and your review makes me interested to get one.
    Could you let me know if bamboo has high warmth and how does it compare to merino?
    I see everyone in cold weather expeditions wearing merino wool so I am under the impression that it offers the most warmth and is the baselayer of choice in cold climates.

    On another note, if I were to layer 2 merino wool base layers – an Icebreaker 200 under a 260, would that be too much? Would my skin be unable to breathe if I used 2 merino wool base layers concurrent or any 2 base layers at all?
    I’m planning to go to an extreme cold place

    Reply
    1. 5.1

      Tim Moss

      Hi Pamela,

      I didn’t comment on the warmth for two main reasons:
      1. As you hinted at, you can just wear more than one if you want to be warmer
      2. The bamboo and merino ones do indeed tend to be warmer but they are much worse at getting rid of sweat so if you’re working hard then they’ll make you colder

      In short, if you’re working hard and sweating then synthetic will usually keep you warmer. If you’re working less hard, tend to run cold and/or will be in cooler conditions, bamboo and merino will be warmer. For extreme cold, merino tends to be most popular.

      In answer to your second question, wearing two merino wool base layers would be absolutely fine. No different from putting a fleece over the top or, in every day life, wearing a t-shirt and jumper/pullover. You could wear five base layers if you really wanted and breathability would be fine.

      I hope that helps but feel free to ask any more questions.

      Thanks,
      Tim.

      P.S. Where did you see the TrekMates tops? They’re my favourites but I’ve never found them again!

      Reply
      1. 5.1.1

        Pamela

        The Trekmates bamboo is found at a shop in Singapore called Adventure21.
        As far as I know, they are the only shop in Singapore that carry Trekmates products and they have quite a range of Trekmates stuff.

  6. 6

    Daniel James Micklethwaite

    Hi Tim interesting post. I’ve been using merino for the last 10 years or so and theres huge variation between, brands and over time (icebreaker seem to have changed their materials weave and fit quite a bit over that time for example) icebreaker’s merino sometimes has a bit of itch but brands like outlier.cc have the most amazing (non trekking) silky merino shirts (expensive though). Icebreaker’s different articles of clothing have improved I think since your article in terms of fit. In terms of wicking I think it will depend a lot on the weave used in both the wool and the bamboo, my icebreaker underwear/boxer short is way way way better wicking than my bamboo underwear for example, but wears out super fast. I would love some underwear with both bamboo and merino weaved in, because for me merino beats bamboo hands down on the stink factor, but it would be great to have that silky-ness and durability of bamboo for trail-running and trekking. In terms of socks if you want great anti-stink with decent durability check out deFeet’s woolie boolie’s I wear them year round (despite their thickness) and go shoeless on carpet at work all day long and they still last a few years before getting holes – though some heavy trekking with boots might wear them faster, icebreaker’s socks I bought a few years ago on the other hand don’t have enough wool to be very anti-stink by comparison to the deFeet Woolie Boolies.

    Reply
    1. 6.1

      Tim Moss

      Thanks for that Daniel. I think I got a little carried away when I wrote this article based on the TrekMates bamboo base layers I’d been using. They’re excellent but no longer available and the alternatives don’t wick nearly as well.

      I agree that the different ranges vary greatly in their characteristics.

      Have you tried the merino/bamboo blends or merino/synthetic blends? They’re pretty good!

      I’ll be updating my base layer comparison article next year with a lot more specific product reviews.

      Reply
  7. 7

    Jennifer Farrow

    Hi
    I don’t go on trekking expos but I am walking for 10 hrs per day everyday of the year in all weathers training dogs. I also horse ride in the summer. I want to slowly change my whole wardrobe to bamboo from Merino wool. I came across bamboo by accident..I bought a set of bamboo sheets for my bed and since then have been trying to obtain bamboo trekking clothing particularly socks. Any ideas please on what brands I can trust to be up to the job I do.
    Any advice would be gratefully accepted. I also have used Bridge Dale socks but found they slipped down under my feet after about 4 hrs walking

    Reply
    1. 7.1

      Tim Moss

      Hi Jennifer,

      Tasc Performance are good (here in the US, here in the UK). Their bamboo/merino blend is great too.

      BAM also make good quality bamboo clothes. They’re not great at wicking and take ages to dry but they’re tough and feel really nice. We used them to cycle around the world. http://www.bambooclothing.co.uk.

      For bamboo socks, I’ve used Bridgedale (which were OK for me) and BAM (which are nice but not really hiking socks). Unfortunately, bamboo’s popularity means you get it in all sorts of socks and other clothes that aren’t well made or designed for outdoors use so it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      Thanks,
      Tim.

      Reply

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