Archive for Gear

Merino on Denali

// June 16th, 2014 // No Comments » // Gear

Blind Veteran Marty Bailey talks about the merits of his wool base layers.  IO Merino out of Australia outfitted our wounded soldiers with wool for our Denali climb and here are Marty’s comments:


I/O Merino Base Layers

// September 9th, 2013 // Comments Off // Gear

IOMerinoWhile on the subject of base layers I would like to complete my Base-Layer Review with some thoughts on the two other base-layers I received from I/O Merino.

I tested these long underwear hoping they could handle the rough stuff.  From a marathon in the arctic circle, to Andean summits, to sweaty summer hikes I wanted to know if these woolies could keep up and perform.  I would like to comment on the six major attributes that underwear should possess: layering, warmth, breathability, fit, durability, and feel.  With the cold season about to begin in the northern hemisphere you may want to read this to see if I/O Merino wool base-layers would work for you.

Layering works because of its versatility.  Fabric matters because of its performance and its ability to keep one warm while maintaining a level of comfort and style.

The lightweight T was actually a good fit for adventure travel as it could be worn alone on hot treks, or layered under another shirt for a night out at a restaurant.  Beyond that it worked well in a sleeping bag and could stay on under all the other layers for forays out of the tent.  Obviously a t-shirt is not the warmest, but due to the fabric this was warm when temps were cool and cool when temps were warm.  I have always preferred a zip neck on expeditions because of their ability to vent.  With this shirt I never felt venting was necessary.  For a light t this gets a thumbs up for warmth.

Breathability/ Drying Speed:
The tights are among my favorites due to their lightweight and with that their ability to breathe.  I never felt clammy or sticky as with some other fabrics.  The light weight also allows them to dry more quickly than heavier wool layers putting these on par with synthetics for drying speed.  Even if they did not dry as fast as they do wool keeps you warm when wet without the clammy feeling, but it does smell a little like, well, wet wool.20121113-150105.jpg

It has been one year of solid use – running, hiking, backpacking, ice climbing, skiing, washing and drying and I must admit that I am surprised that these lightweights have held up.  When I first received them I felt they may be too light to go the distance.  No holes, loose threads, pilling, fading or shrinkage.  They are holding up well.
Layering Ability:
These are the first layer, the first line of defense against the cold and they work great for this purpose under other garments – even heavy windproof running tights.  They fit close to the body and are light so they layer very well allowing for other layers to glide on over them, but don’t try to get anything underneath them.
I have very sensitive skin.  I have always preferred cottony soft t-shirts or flannel against the skin.  Some synthetics are brushed and have a cozy softness to them and work well against the skin.  I have worn wool from five different manufacturers all claiming to have the softest feel.  The truth for me is that under heavy pack straps it can at times feel like wool.  Never a problem under a harness, or on the legs and wool is 100% my choice as a base-layer for the lower half, 75% for the upper.  People with less sensitive skin probably won’t notice, but for me I need to scratch once in awhile.  Somedays I notice, somedays I don’t but the qualities of the shirt keep me coming back to it most days.


The fit is athletic and true to size, non-restrictive.  At 6’2″ tall with a 33″ waist I found the fit of these both to be spot on. (Large top, medium bottoms)
If you are body conscience you might find these to be a little form fitting when worn alone, but this is what makes them great as a bas-layer.  My only gripe at all is with the t that it comes across the front of the neck a little high and can feel a bit constricting at times.  Having long limbs I can’t comment on sleeve length from this brand yet, but the tights were adequate in length for me with a 34″ inseam.
The Bottom Line:
I/O Merino is a young company that is off to a good start.  The products I have been able to sample work well, are durable, nice looking, fit as they should and offer great versatility.
Definitely worth your consideration for your next adventure.

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Wool Undies?!

// August 28th, 2013 // No Comments » // Climbing, Gear, Hiking


A Gear review.






After many weeks this summer out in the peaks, woods, ice, rain, snow, dust, streams, crowded buses, small planes, tight tents, mist, fog and sun I have much to report.  I had the luxury of testing out some new products and pushing the limits of some old.  I’d like to write a few posts about what I learned so that by reading this you might be able to make a better decision when it comes time to buy some outdoor recreational equipment.

So let’s start with the first thing that goes on after stepping out of the shower, and that in the mountains might remain on for several days: undies.  Opinions abound and people have their favorites – it is a delicate and sensitive topic involving a sensitive area.  When you see these on a store’s rack questions will immediately arise: do they ride, creep, pinch, squeeze, chaff, smell after an hour of wear and are they worth the price?

My answer is I/O Merino.  No riding, creeping, pinching, etc and even after days on the trail no significant odor.  I have tried many other reputable brands and styles of synthetic briefs and boxers that wick, dry quickly, keep a person warm when wet but begin to smell the moment you look at them (never going back).

By wearing wool you get all of the same benefits of synthetic but without the odor.  Many people when introduced to the idea of wool will flinch when they think of wearing it as a base-layer, but let me tell you fine merino that is well made does not itch down there.  Not clammy like cotton, if I could afford to wear these everyday I would.  I can afford to wear them everyday while on the trail and in the tent my tent mates appreciate the fact I smell a little less.

Warm, warm when wet, low odor retention, dry fast enough, and even after ignoring the care instructions many times they are holding up after repeated wash and dry cycles.

Shopping for expedition undies – look no further than I/O Merino.  I am a 33″ waist – my medium boxer briefs fit a bit more like boxer shorts.  If you want more support go down a size.

I/O Boxer Brief

I/O Boxer Brief

I/O Merino Wool Baselayer Test

// November 13th, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Climbing, Gear, Skiing

What do you wear when the warm weather has wandered away ? That warmth you wish to retain may be worn from clothes of a critter sheared and shorn.

Wool could well be the answer.

Wearing wool often conjures up memories of big and heavy itchy and scratchy rag wool sweaters and socks. Well, thankfully those days are gone (for smart shoppers anyway) and recent developments in the weaving of fine merino wool have made this a very comfortable and functional option for active outdoor enthusiasts.

I/O Merino, a new company out of Australia, recently sent me a few pieces from their line to use and review. Now having put them to the test trail running, cycling, and even the most rigorous of all tests – the sleep test, I have something to report.

From Alaska to Argentina, Everest to Australia I have been using both synthetic and wool clothing for some years and the one thing I must say is that no matter what, I like my clothes to disappear – from my mind at least. There is nothing like being on a climb, or ski tour with layers that bind, run short, lack breathability and are slow to dry. Before long these qualities will command your attention and possibly ruin a trip. At times my life can depend on the clothes I wear so I am very selective and discriminating.

I/O Merino Contact Euro T – Large: My first thought was that this shirt was nice and light, good looking, subdued but colorful. Then I slipped it on and found that the athletic fit would work well alone or under other layers. I wore it all day and even slept in it that night. This is definitely when you will discover if a wool garment is well made or not – if it itches or not. I am pleased to say that there was no itch and that I forgot all about the shirt and long johns as I slept. The only gripe I have of the shirt is that the collar hit me just a tad high, but since it was not overly tight this was not a problem.

I/O Merino Contact full Tight 160 wt – Medium: At nearly 6’2″ with a 33″ waist I always struggle with sizing. Either baggy and long or a good fit but too short. This base layer fit and was just long enough – a pleasant surprise indeed. With a bit of stretch and a nice weight I was comfortable with these on many trail runs especially the other morning when the temp was a meager 3 degrees f. Alone or combined under other layers these bottoms offer the flexibility to go light or layer up, and will be great for ski tours, snowshoeing and skate skiing. With such flexibility, comfort, odor resistance and the ability to maintain loft and warmth when wet, wool has become my base layer of choice especially from the waist down. The downfall of some lesser quality wool products may be itch, and the downfall of synthetics can be that sticky, clammy feeling when wet, however with these there is neither.

I/O Merino Contact Boxer Brief Med: of the three pieces these are my favorite. I know what you’re thinking “you’d wear wool there?!” Absolutely. It’s soft, dries quickly and fights odor. They fit and function well and are not what I am thinking about when my climbing harness is holding me high above the ground. For a multi-day ski tour, hut trip or backpack these are the undies of choice.

Lastly all of these garments survived a machine wash and dry. I always try my best to keep wool out of the dryer, but when my wife accidentally ran them through I was pleased to find no shrinkage.
They are all natural and will please your “Eco conscience”.
Overall I can say that I highly recommend these base layers and will be wearing the tights against my skin next week as I head to the arctic to run a marathon in 85% humidity and single digit temps.

To check out the entire line go to they have many other great items.


Canon D1X – New

// October 18th, 2011 // No Comments » // Gear

Today canon announced their new flagship camera.  Amazing specs and sure to be an amazing workhorse for serious photographers.
Check out more at