Friday, 4 September 2009
Trekmates Bamboo Baselayer
It’s only recently that I decided to try a baselayer made from ‘natural’ materials having always used synthetic’s in the past. I wasn’t really aware that there was any alternative to Merino so decided to try a long sleeved crew neck from Chocolate Fish mainly as their products are still manufactured in New Zealand using wool that conforms to MAPP standards. Some people are sensitive to merino finding it itchy/scratchy although while I found it was noticeable it certainly wasn’t an issue. The merino is great in that it doesn’t feel as cold as most synthetics when damp and doesn’t retain odours however the downside is that it does take longer to dry. I’m always on the lookout for something different and while on the Trekmates website I found base layer made from Bamboo which grows organically without using pesticides or fertilizers and is 100% sustainable and biodegradable. It was also reasonably priced compared to even the Chocolate Fish Merino which is itself very well priced so I ordered a long sleeve crew neck top and long johns.
The items came in recyclable packaging which was a plus point and had some information about the performance of the base layer together with environmental information about bamboo which was pretty interesting. Bamboo it seems is one of the most sustainable crops in the world, is the worlds fastest growing plant, up to 30cm per day, has natural properties that protect from the suns UV rays and is 100% biodegradable. That all sounds great but how does it perform as a base layer.
My 1st impression was how soft and smooth it was, almost like silk which would probably make it ideal for anyone who finds merino too itchy. I wore it in early May when the temperature varied quite a lot and when I was at times wearing only a fleece over the base layer and at others was wearing full waterproofs. It never felt uncomfortably damp apart from once when I was really pushing on wearing full wet gear. I’m not sure if it feels cooler than merino when damp although I suspect that it may feel slightly cooler. It does take longer to dry than synthetic base layer, close to merino in fact but I normally changed into a dry base layer at night and putting on the bamboo base layer again in the morning wasn’t unpleasant. The base layer does seem at little loose at 1st and like the merino base layer I have isn’t as close fitting or stretchy as some of my synthetic stuff but the packaging does warn that the items are a little oversize to allow for shrinkage during the 1st few washes (approx 6%) The one thing about natural fibres whether merino or bamboo is that they need to be treated with a little more care when washing than synthetics, don’t wash at high temperature and dry in a tumble dryer at the highest setting, another plus point for the environment, it’s easier to hand wash and let dry naturally.
I have to say I like the Bamboo baselayer, it’s heavier than my favourite synthetic, Sub Zero Factor 1 but slightly lighter than my Chocolate Fish Merino, 214g/181g/127g respectively. For anyone wanting a more eco friendly alternative to synthetics but who finds merino uncomfortable or too expensive I’d suggest giving the Trekmates Bamboo range a try. The image below is a macro shot which illustrates the very fine knit of the Bamboo baselayer