ProView – Rab MeCo Merino Base Layer

The number of lightweight, Merino based, base layers out there is getting overwhelming.  It seems like every outdoor manufacturer has one. So, what separates Rab from everyone else? MeCo. MeCo is a combination of 65% Merino and 35% polyester with Cocona technology. This blend produces a garment that has all of the benefits of Merino (warmth, softness, and odor protection) with the quick drying and UV protection properties of Cocona.

I tested the 120 Tee, 120 Long Sleeve Tee, and 165 Long Sleeve Zip. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to take them up two 14,000ft mountains in Colorado and on a 4 day, 60-mile backpacking trip through the Sierras.

A hike up Greys and Torrys was the first test. I arrived before dawn, and it was a chilly 36 degrees with a slight breeze.  I wore the 165 Long Sleeve Zip under my shell, and I was impressed by how warm I was, definitely warmer than with similar products from other manufactures.  I thought I would over-heat as soon as I started moving up hill but I stayed quite comfortable until sunrise. Merino fibers have the amazing ability to regulate temperature, just like it does for the sheep it originates from who live in New Zealand’s extreme climate.

Next, I took all three on a backpacking trip of a section the John Muir Trail, which started in Yosemite Valley and went through Reds Meadow, CA. The first day started with 101 degrees as the high. I donned the 120 Tee, and while my hiking partner had sweated through his Merino shirt in a matter of minutes, I was astonished how dry mine stayed over the course of the day.

For the rest of the trip, with temps still in the high 80s to low 90s, I wore the Long Sleeve Tee for some sun protection (I burnt my arms while wearing the short sleeve tee) and was happy with how comfortable it was – it wasn’t itchy in the slightest. I also got the much-needed sun protection my suffering arms needed.  On day three, the piece began to smell a bit so I washed it in a stream on trail and left it on a rock to dry.  My hiking buddy did the same thing with his Merino top and the Rab piece dried in about half the time, odor gone.

By the end of the trail my Meco layers looked filthy, but didn’t smell nearly as bad as I expected. There was no pilling in the shoulders or on the sides from the backpack and the stitching was intact.  Overall, this product outperformed others that I’ve tested by far – the Merino/ Cocona combo definitely takes Merino wool up a notch.

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Eric Howell is a gear reviewer for Outdoor Prolink. You will find him mostly in the mountains, hiking, backpacking, and adventuring. 

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