Mid Weight Base Layers Page 1
This section features Mid Weight base layer garments

As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.


TAD Gear Merino Wool Garments (discontinued)

3/21/08 - Triple Aught Design's (TAD Gear) new 'Green Label" (natural fibers) Merino Wool Garments are part of their A.C.E. (A.ll C.limate E.lementals) layering system, which describes their highly versatile, component apparel system. Each piece of the ACE system represents a component in an overall total system that can be worn autonomously or as part of layering combination. The ACE System offers performance and functionality from base and mid layers to outerwear. Featured here are three items from the ACE system: the Regulator Base layers, Equilibrium Full Zip Sweater, and the Flux Pullover Hoodie. All are made from Merino Wool.

New Zealand Extra Fine Merino Wool - TAD Gear has introduced more styles and garments this year in merino wool because of the many benefits of this natural material. Wool is naturally fire resistant, breathable, durable, used in both hot and cold climates, odour and static resistant, and will keep you warm even when wet. It will not melt or stick to when exposed to flame. The ACE system components are currently available in TAD's M.E. Green and D.F. (Dark Field) Grey (almost black). As I've mentioned in previous reviews of wool garments, I have very sensiitve skin and fall in the small percentage of people that can find even Merino wool scratchy. However, TAD's merino products have the least amount of itch (none to almost none) that I've experienced with any merino wool product. This is due to the fine micron thickness of the extra/super fine merino wool selected for these garments. With some other merino wool garments I've used, there'd usually be some hint of itch until my skin got used to it. Much less so with the the TAD wool garments.

Equilibrium Full Zip Sweater - The Equilibrium Full Zip Sweater, shown in D.F. Grey below, is a front opening sweater/cardigan. It's designed to be worn on its own, or as a mid layer under a soft or hard shell as part of the ACE layering system. It's made of 360 gm weight 100% merino (no lycra), and is of an all-season, flat knit pattern which is a heavier/thicker weave than the Regulator base layers. It has low nap and is pill resistant. The merino wool used in the Equilibrium isn't as super fine as the Regulator Base Layer wool, but I still find it very comfortable for a wool garment. I'm able to wear it next to my hyper-sensitive skin with only the occasional hint of prick on my neck and crook of my elbows (which seems the most susceptible area to get irritated).

The Equilibrium uses black YKK covert zippers, and the full zip allows for easy donning and doffing, plus heat management. The collar is 5" tall, and forms a turtleneck when fully zipped up. It has a wind flap behind the zipper. It can be folded over for a half-height turtleneck, or just worn open. On the left upper chest is a trapezoidal pocket with vertical covert zipper closure for small items. The elbows are reinforced with elbow patches.

The wool is dense, and doesn't have a lot of loft, so it's not bulky when worn under another jacket. It's got sort of a straight, urban cut; not too snug or form fitting. It doesn't look at all 'military' to me, especially in D.F. Grey. Loose enough to wear over a base layer but not baggy. I'd estimate the warmth to be equivalent to a mid-weight sweat shirt (not a thick, heavy one).

Equilibrium, collar open

Collar zipped up

Collar turned down

Front zip and chest pocket

Reinforced elbows


Flux Pullover Hoodie - At first glance, the Flux Pullover Hoodie might be mistaken for a merino wool version of TAD's fleece Scout Hoodie, but it's actually patterned very differently. It's made of 360gm weight, pill resistant flat knit New Zealand Merino wool, like the Equilibrium. Because of the pattern/cut, it 'drapes' more than the Equilibirum, for a more relaxed look. The merino wool construction makes it a very sharp looking hoodie, and the M.E. Green (shown here) is a very pleasant colour. I also found it completely itch-free.

The Flux isn't as loose as the Scout Hoodie, and can be worn over a shirt, alone, or under any of TAD's jackets for additional insulation as part of the ACE system. Wear it under the Predator hardshell in the rain, or with the V8 Garage jacket for an urban-chic look. It's go a very comfortable cut for an unrestricted fit. The Flux has TAD's signature Aero hood design, without any adjustments of course. I think the overlapping takeoff points at the front of the hood/collar add to its unique look. The sleeves have thumbhole cuffs which are snug enough to keep the hand warm, and also stay around the wrists when the thumbhole feature isn't used. The elbows are reinforced with patches.

At the front is the kangaroo pocket, with a small mesh ID hideout pocket in the middle (which fits a small Rite-in-the-rain notebook). The inside entrance to the kangaroo pockets are lined with a soft material for comfort. Like the Equilibrium, I'd estimate the warmth of the Flux to be similar to a medium-weight sweatshirt. It's a bit heavier than the fleece Scout Hoodie, but more wind resistant, so I actually found it a bit warmer than the Scout when there was a cool breeze blowing.

Front kangaroo pocket

Hood up

Aero hood down

Hood details

Size of ID hideout pocket

Thumbhole cuffs and reinforced elbows

The Merino wool garments tend to be slightly heavier and more dense than their synthetic equivalents, like base layers or lightweight fleece. However, due the the breathability of the wool fibers themselves, you're less likely to get stuffy when you sweat than with a synthetic fleece top (synthetic fibers do not soak up moisture - they wick it away. Wool fibers actually absorb moisture). One potential disadvantage I see to wool is that it's heavier than synthetic garments when soaking wet and takes longer to dry. Again, this is because the wool fibers are hydrophilic and absorb moisture more readily than synthetic ones. Dunk a wool garment into water with a synthetic one, squeeze out the excess water and compare the weights and you'll see. With a thin base layer however, it's pretty much a non-issue.

As most of us know, wool can shrink. You don't just throw it in the hot/cold cycle with the rest of the clothes and dry it on high. The tags recommend a cold gentle cycle when machine washing, and laying them flat to dry. However, I'd found that I can machine dry these wool garments on the air only or low heat setting without them shrinking if I'm in a hurry and don't want to lay them out.
As I mentioned above, TAD's merino wool is the least (or non) prickly/itchy of any wool garment I've worn. There's something about the luxury, denseness and drape of wool garments that give them a touch of class that synthetics don't have. If you prefer natural fiber garments combined with high-tech features and designs, TAD's got you covered.




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