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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to get a few clothing items in preparation for the cool weather that is on the horizon. I do enjoy my cold winter riding so long as I'm dressed for it.

I have a few synthetic base layers which are pretty nice but was thinking about taking the plunge with a few merino wool pieces. I was wondering: Does merino wool shrink when washed? I'm typically a XXL in clothing and am pretty certain it will fit but was considering going for a 'tall' size in anticipation of shrinkage, I wonder if that is even necessary?

Any merino experts have some advice?

For the record, I'm not a fellow that is overly delicate with taking care as I truly have little tolerance for "house chores", I fully intend to toss clothes in washing machine then dryer, if merino requires special delicate handling and care I may be best served continuing with my synthetics.

Advice much appreciated.
 

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I have not noticed much shrinking with my merino garments, but I always wash cold, and never dry. I have a feeling that if I dried them they would shrink.

I have a balaclava, a couple beanies, a base layer, a jacket, a jersey, and every pair of socks I own. Most of it is Smartwool, but the jacket is Ibex, and one of the beanies is Arc'teryx. I actually do dry the socks, and wash them on warm occasionally with no ill effects or additional wear, but everything else I am "careful" with.

I actually think wool is a miracle material, everything I own that is wool is my "favorite" garment of that type. I think it insulates much better than synthetic for it's bulk, however it seems to wick just as well if not better when it gets hot. So for example my base layer is comfortable on a cooler day, but on a warmer day it isn't as warm as say my equal weight synthetic base layer. I think it's because of increased wicking, although synthetics are supposed to dry faster. Don't think I'm ignorant of synthetic garments either, they make up the bulk of my outdoors wear because of the price of wool.

That brings me to my favorite part about wool though, aside from the performance, you really don't need several wool base layers or beanies or whatever, because they simply don't start to stink. It's like wool is nearly impervious to odor. For example I used a balaclava on a daily ride to work, breathing heavily into it and sometimes sweating for 30 minutes. I had two synthetic and one wool balaclava. The synthetic balaclavas would usually start to smell on the second day, so two days was their limit. The wool balaclava would usually start to smell after about 5 days, so way better. Add to that it passed more breath through because it was thinner and lighter, yet it was just as warm.

Anyway, enough expounding upon it's many strengths, I don't find wool particularly difficult to care for: wash and hang dry and you should be good, though I do that with my synthetic base layers also. It probably shrinks similarly to cotton, but, depending on the garment, is much stretchier. Your mileage may vary!
 

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If the fabric is pre-shrunk prior to manufacturing, you should be ok, but even then you're not in the clear.

I have a ton of merino, and it is really hit and miss with the shrinking.

Hang to dry and you won't have any problems. Merino is worth the extra 45 seconds of work. Besides, you will be washing it a lot less.
 

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I have not noticed much shrinking with my merino garments, but I always wash cold, and never dry. I have a feeling that if I dried them they would shrink.
!
I have found this to be the case. I own merino from Ibex, Icebreakers, and Smartwool and have never had a problem with shrinking. I never dry my merino though (as you shouldn't).
 

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Really depends on the weave/fabric--some is more prone to shrinking than others. Interloc is good stuff that doesn't shrink if handled with reasonable care--wash delicate, dry on low or lay flat. Most smartwool stuff is pretty stable, too.
 

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Look what the garment label says. I have a Merino sweater (which I haven't had to wash yet) and it says to:

  • hand wash cold
  • no bleach
  • reshape lay flat to dry
  • cool iron as necessary
 

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Everybody above has it pretty much covered above.

Wool- Merino wool, is the sheep's meow. Wondrous. You'll be washing it far less often, really.
If you throw it in the washer, make sure it's cold/cold, then hang it up to dry. No big deal. The material and comfort range is amazing.

(only throw it in the dryer -for short periods- if the garment is too big on you.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you everyone for your insight and knowledge.

Hearing all of this is much appreciated. I have a tendency to buy my gear in multiples but I think I will chill out and get a single piece (baselayer) and see how I take care of it over the short term before plunging for the rest.

I'm looking forward to the experience and performance of it but and concerned about my ability to care for it diligently...I dont have much tolerance for the domestic arts admittedly.
 

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That shouldn't really matter. Its wool. You don't have to ever wash it.

Seriously though, I've found that it will shrink a tiny bit if you toss it in the dryer. I know you're not supposed to, but I will sometimes put it in the dryer with whatever else is going in there, and then pull the wool out after 10-15 minutes. And I have two IO/Bio shirts that are the only tees I wear, and I wear them literally every day. I also have some Rapha, Smartwool, Ibex, and Icebreaker, but for base tees, IO/ Bio is my favorite. I'd highly recommend checking them out.
 

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I think the weave is key, most of the thin stuff, base layer, mid weight are ok. It's the heavy one that shrink, lost a EWR Surly long sleeves and a Swobo short sleeves, both went navel cut. It seems the problem is length wise more than anything else. We wear it year round and it's wonderful, almost no stink factor, within reason.;)
 

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Merino kicks butt. I ride in it year round. I wash it on the delicate cycle then hang to dry. My I/O Merino boxers get but in with the regular wash and dry and have never shrunk. I mostly use the delicate cycle as a precaution for the rest of the stuff.

Did a cold ride on Monday night wore.

I/O Merino Midweight 3/4 tights Contact Merino Tights

I/O Merino Long sleeve zip Contact Merino Long Sleeve Zip

I/O Merino RHFP Jacket Signature Merino Jacket
 

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Am I missing something? Normally, the clothes from merino stretch, not shrink. If you follow the instructions that go with the garment, that is. There is a good reason for the recommendation to buy merino stuff, that is one size smaller than you normally wear (especially for baselayers this is a MUST).

Merino is NOT for someone, who will not take care for the garment. You wash it less, but, in general, there are more things that can go wrong with merino garment vs. normal syntetic garment.

Other than that merino (when it comes to baselayers) is, in my view, superior as a clothing material compared to synthetics.
 

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In cold weather I usually ride in I/O Bio 3/4 Tights and a Glory Zip shirt which is great as it has a hoodie in it. Throw baggies and a jersey over top and a shell jacket and Im usually good to go

My two favourites are I/O Bio and Icebreakers
 

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My smartwool and icebreaker shirts shrink a bit if accidently dried. Pretty much back to normal after another wear/wash and a hang dry.

My smartwool sock end up in the dryer all the time. Harder to separate them out. Doesn't seem to have any negative effect.
 

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My smartwool base layer top and socks go in the washer and the dryer on normal. I don't know if it really shrinks that much, they stretch back when worn. The above set is 4 years old and is still fine, but the top is getting thin on the back from my pack rubbing.
 
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