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There is no secret that I am in love with merino wool and I was really happy when LOOW, a Danish manufacturer, approached us last November and asked if we were interested in field testing a couple of their new merino wool products. It was especially lucky as I was preparing for a 12-day self-supported packrafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, which was scheduled for the middle of December. And as I was told that it could be rather cold in there, I thought that a long-sleeve T-shirt and pants would come in handy.
And so, a week before the start of the trip, I received a small package from LOOW, which contained my new T-shirt (T-OLS 220 Longsleeve) and a pair of boxers (B-135).
The T-shirt also came in a “very nice box.” (These are not my words, but the words of my wife who works in printing – I am going to refer to her more often in this article as she is an ‘expert’ on many things). “Can I please have it?” she asked me, once I unpacked it.
When it comes to the t-shirt, the first thing I have to say is that I immediately liked the fabric it’s made from. It feels thicker than that of my regular Icebreakers (even the 200 ones). And it is also very soft. So soft, in fact, that my wife positively commented on it (fabric softness seems to be another area of her expertise). Though it was size L, my regular size, the cut’s a bit loose, which made it more of a ‘regular’ fit than the ‘slim’ fit I am used to in my Icebreakers.
Inside the box, besides the T-shirt itself, there was a tiny leaflet with extended care instructions in English. “Soak, rinse, squeeze and hang dry” – this is a summary of what you need to do to give your T-shirt a simple wash. (I took a picture of it with my mobile just in case I misplace it late on).
Unlike the T-shirt, the boxers came in a small resealable bag (with some basic product information and care instructions of their own) and were made from 135 gr merino wool fabric, which should be light and breathable. In general, I really like boxers as they are my preferred type of underwear. And the first impression of the cut and the way these ones were sawn together was very positive. Well, mostly positive, I should say – at the back, where the two sides of the elastic band were joined together, there was a rather ‘unseemly’ seem that drew my attention. I have rather sensitive skin and, usually, if there are seams like that, my skin starts to chafe very quickly. The same sometimes happens if there is a label there. And whereas these boxers did not have any separate labels to speak of (just a tiny one with the name of the company and the care instructions printed on the fabric itself), I felt that the seam might cause problems. “Oh, well, let’s give it a try anyway,” I thought to myself.
“Giving it a try”
And a try I gave. First, I wore the T-shirt and the boxers on my 30+-hour journey to the Grand Canyon – from Warsaw, through Amsterdam and Los Angeles to Phoenix and on Flagstaff, where I gave them the recommended simple wash (good thing I had the instructions on my mobile). Second, I put them on the fourth day of our 12-day paddling trip after I went for the quick and only whole body wash (the Colorado River in December is not very inviting to bathe in it often, I am afraid, and I only used water wipes to keep myself clean), wore them as the base layer under my drysuit and I took them off at the take-out point on the last day, altogether wearing them for almost 9 days. And during all this time, to my surprise, the seam did not only chafe but I actually completely forgot of its existence.
As I did not have time to wash and dry the T-shirt and the boxers properly, I put them in a plastic bag and brought them back home. “Honey,” I asked my wife, who is also an ‘expert’ on all things smelly. “Can you please smell this?” and handed her the bag. (Just to avoid any misunderstandings, I want to stress that I checked it first and it was ok.) “They don’t smell fresh, but they do not stink either,” she told me after inspecting the items within. And this, in my opinion, is major praise if you consider the conditions in which they were used.
Since coming back from the Grand Canyon trip at the end of December, I have been regularly wearing the T-shirt and boxers both on my trips and to work. I have also washed them a dozen of times (by hand and in a machine), and so far, the fabric remains soft, and the items have not lost their shape. Nor are there any holes or discolorations. All this makes me believe that these LOOW products, “Made in EU, Knitted in Denmark”, are worth buying.