First Look: ioMerino Vital Crew Neck and Pinnacle Zip

posted in: Gear Reviews, Hiking Gear | 0

Why Buy?

In my 18 months of testing merino wool clothing, I’ve worn merino on cold, snowy mountains with sub-zero wind chills, in the hot and dry climate of Southern California, for intense cardio sessions at the gym, and lounging around the house.  I’ve been continually impressed with how well it regulates my body temperature, wicks moisture, and how many times merino can be worn between washes (odor resistance). For those not familiar with merino wool, Wikipedia has a good summary:

Several properties contribute to merino’s popularity for exercise clothing, compared to wool in general and to other types of fabric:

  • Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin. The wool provides some warmth, without overheating the wearer. It draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin, a phenomenon known as wicking. The fabric is slightly moisture repellent (keratin fibers are hydrophobic at one end and hydrophilic at the other), allowing the user to avoid the feeling of wetness.[8]
  • Like cotton, wool absorbs water (up to 1/3 its weight), but, unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet,[9] thus helping wearers avoid hypothermia after sweating from strenuous exercise or getting rained on when outside.[8]
  • Like most wools, merino contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties.[10]
  • Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, due to finer fibers and smaller scales.[9]
  • Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools, in part because the smaller fibers have microscopic cortices of dead air, trapping body heat similar to the way a sleeping bag warms its occupant.[11]


While I’ve been very impressed with the merino products I’ve used, I’m always on the search to see if there’s something better out there. ioMerino is a company that has been mentioned in several of my Facebook posts discussing merino wool.  After contacting ioMerino’s customer service team and discussing their products, I soon had a Vital Crew Neck and Pinnacle Zip in my possession for testing.  

Initial Impressions/Unboxing Photos

I have yet to use ioMerino’s gear on a serious hike or snowshoe trip, but here are some initial impressions. 

Both products:

  • have been worn together in 40 degree weather on a brisk walk, as well as around the house (70 degrees). I’ve been comfortable in both environments.  
  • appear to be well-made and made from quality merino.
  • are super soft and comfortable out of the package. No prewashing was required to remove the initial itchiness that is present with some merino products.

The ioMerino Vital Crew Neck:

  • was worn to bed (next to skin) the first night I had it, with no itchiness. In the past I’ve tested items that were fine while I was active, but started to feel itchy when trying to sleep. 
  • has been worn for 3 days of manual labor and has not yet developed an offensive odor. 



The ioMerino Pinnacle Zip:

  • is a nice looking shirt. I foresee myself wearing it a ton over the next several months. 


Future Testing

The products will be tested extensively during my hiking and snowshoeing trips over the next several months. I am particularly interested in: 

  • the material’s moisture wicking and odor resistant properties when used during strenuous exercise
  • the material’s durability. The vital crew is the softest merino product I’ve owned, but it’s also the thinnest. 
  • The “ribbed texture in the Kryptos MicroMerino® fabric the Vital is made from creates tiny air pockets at both the skin and interlayers to help trap warmth and keep you warmer than you would ever believe possible from a top this thin and lightweight.” It will be interesting to see if the Vital insulates as well or better than heavier merino layers.  


Disclaimer: The products reviewed in this entry were provided to by ioMerino.