Merino wool is a wonder material for outdoors and travelling. You can wear it for weeks at a time and it won’t stink. You don’t need to take as many shirts backpacking. Just a couple to wear over and over.
Unbound Merino makes 100% Merino shirts, hoodies, boxers and pants for travel and playing outside. Started by a few friends out of Toronto, they were obsessed with travelling but hated taking all the stuff for it. Either you had to bring a ton of clothes on a trip or wash everything along the way.
With merino you don’t have to. Just wear it. And wear it. And wear it.
The Kanga Hoody is a new piece from Unbound Merino that is a classic, close-fitting hoody. It’s a light layer with 190 g/m² fabric, not too warm but not too cold, for sitting around camp or getting cozy on the plane. It’s 100% merino wool and rarely needs to be washed.
First, what is merino and who is Unbound?
What is Merino wool?
Merino is just the wool from the Merino sheep. It’s very fine and smooth compared to regular course, scratchy wool.
Over the last decade the Merino industry has released socks, shirts, boxers, hats, jackets, hoodies, and pants all made from Merino. Some are made as blends with other materials but often just 100% merino.
Merino’s big claim to fame is it doesn’t stink. You can wear it for days without smelling. The lanolin coating on the outside of the wool fibers make it hard for the smell-inducing bacteria to stick around. No bacteria, no smell.
Keep in mind you might smell! Your Merino shirt might not but that’s not to say you don’t underneath. Merino doesn’t need to be washed as often, going weeks between washes, but you probably should!
Merino is temperature-regulating. Most materials only breathe or insulate which is good if it’s really warm or cold but when your going between the two, you are going to be either too warm or too cold. The fibers of Merino will breathe when you are warm and insulate when you are cold. I run very warm temperature-wise and I love wearing Merino to not overheat.
Another nice property of Merino outdoors is that it can insulate when it’s wet. Materials like cotton will suck heat away from your body when it’s wet. Not ideal if you are outdoors and training to stay warm in bad weather or after sweating. It won’t be as comfortable as if it were dry but at least it’s not going to pull all that precious heat from you.
So that’s Merino wool. Who is this Unbound Merino that makes this Kanga Hoody?
Who is Unbound Merino?
Three travelers out of Toronto that were just obsessed with travelling and wanted to take less stuff created Unbound Merino. They were sick of lugging around multiple suitcases when they went on a trip. Lugging multiple suitcases up a big hill on a hot day in Greece, they concluded there had to be a better way.
Much of what you take travelling is clothing so what if you could take less? Then you’d have to wash it over and over. What if you could take less clothing AND not have to wash it?
The founders of Unbound Merino finally stumbled upon Merino wool that seem to fit the high requirements: nice to wear, look good, easy to pack, and not have to wash it often.
What is the Unbound Merino Kanga?
The Kanga is a classic hoody made from thin merino with a hood and kangaroo pockets in heather grey, navy and black.
- 17.5 micron wool
- 190 g/m² weight
- $160 CAD ($125 USD)
The Unbound style is simple, no big logos or techy design. Wear them out backpacking, to work and out to dinner and no one would notice. The clean lines might not get you into a restaurant with a dress code they look great around the campsites or heading into town straight from the trail.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the packaging was all paper-based and recyclable. I’m not sure how sustainable the entire supply chain is but it would be great to see Unbound get certified Climate Neutral. Just removing all the plastic from packaging is a huge step forward. Prana, one of our favourite sustainable outdoor brands, has been spearheading the Responsible Packaging Movement as well with many other brands.
The Kanga is 100% merino which is very nice to see. Many brands blend merino with other things to try to make it stretchier, last longer or breathe better. But it rarely works, usually just reducing the sustainability and longevity of the clothes.
Another benefit to being 100% merino is that it’s compostable if there aren’t any plastic-based fibres in it. When you are done with the old shirt, years and years down the road throw it in the compost.
The 190 g/m² weight of the wool is the thickness. Wool clothing usually ranges from 150 g/m² for extremely thing t-shirts up to 320 g/m² for thick hoodies and jackets. Thicker will last longer but will be heavier and bulkier.
The fit is comfortably fitted. The Kanga isn’t a big, baggy hoody. The medium fits my 5’7″ 180 pounds well but also fits the 6′ 170 pound model in the photos on Unbounds website.
I would caution those with longer arms. The medium fits my average length arms just right without much to spare. If you have longer arms, the sleeves may not reach.
Merino will always more expensive than cotton or polyester. Costco seems to be the only place that can get Merino for extremely low prices but I’ve seen some shady tactics from Costco for obtaining their gear to sell. To get a quality, superfine merino shirt from a good name, you are going to pay a bit more.
Merino shirts can take the place of multiple other shirts too. I can wear merino shirts for days at a time, whereas any other cotton or polyester short goes in the wash after 1 day, 2 if I’m not going to be around other humans with noses. A merino shirt can easily last a week or more between washes.
The superfine threads in the Kanga make it the softest merino I’ve every touched. It’s perfect for a bit more warmth on a cool morning in the mountains or the airport. The merino won’t smell so it’s easy to wear for weeks at a time. The Kanga has instantly become a staple for me inside the house and out.