Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rab MeCo 165 Long Sleeve Zip Tee

The base layer, the foundation of the layering system. This is where the perspiration goes to first, whether the base layer wicks or just absorbs depends on the quality of the garment. Smell can be the next issue, how long can you have this layer in direct contact with your skin before it is unbearable for you never mind your companions? Obviously cost does not guarantee that it will do what it's supposed to do.

This particular layer I bought at the tail end of last year after reading all the good reviews. Everyone will probably know it has a blend of merino and recycled polyester which has a cocona content, or as Rab's website states, an activated carbon technology. I have no idea what that means, however, from what I had read previous to purchasing it was the dogs!!

From it's first outing in winter I was impressed. I don't normally have to wear too many layers in the cold whilst moving but I wore this with a Pro Shell jacket and didn't feel I had to layer up even when gaining a bit of altitude and resulting wind speed.

Following that I have worn it under soft shells, thinner hard shells and on it's own and it never ceases to impress me. The version I have is the heavier of the two that Rab produce, 165g/sm. The lesser weight version is 120g/sm. According to the Rab's website my 165 is 80g's heavier than the 120 weight long sleeve version, taking the additional deep zip into account I don't feel this is a big difference.

The cocona element is supposed to "add to the antimicrobial qualities of the fabric." I have another base layer that contains cocona and the remainder is polyester, it smells as quickly as the fully polyester versions I have. I have exerted myself in the MeCo and when I have removed it been surprised to still smell the morning application of deodorant.

So is it the merino that is the making of the MeCo? Merino is a great material; natural, wicks well, quick drying. Rab's hybrid version feels different. I don't find it as scratchy when I first put it on and the feel of the fabric is more robust.

It fits well on me, the long sleeves sit just beyond my wrists, which helps the layering to my gloves in cold weather. In hot weather it protects my  Scottish skin against the UV's. The cut across the body is un-restrictive, I hardly ever notice it's there. The deep zip comes in handy for venting and pulling it up to complete a raised collar which is both neat enough to provide protection and not feel constricting on the neck.

The MeCo's biggest test was was recently on a hot, lengthy day out. I decided on the long sleeves to protect myself from burning to a crisp. The sun blazed as soon as it rose, and I started to swelter early on in the trip. The wind helped cool me and dry off the wicked sweat. I had the venting option of the zip, which was invaluable. After spending 12 sweltering hours in the same base layer the afore mentioned fragrance of the mornings application of deodorant still lingered.

Below are the pictures of said article following that boiling day out -   

As you can see the straps of my pack are traced in the exuded sweat. It was boiling that day and I don't think that any of the other base layers I own would have coped with the punishment my kit endured that day. And to top it off my under arms still smelled reasonably fresh! I was the only part of me that felt fresh...

The end result is I am scared I  will wear this top out. It is versatile through the seasons. I know I have only had it 6 months but we have had all 4 seasons in that time. Until I get another one I have to resist wearing it every excursion. I think I will be looking at a short sleeve version to accompany the LS.

There's not a lot else I can say apart from, for me this is the "go-to" base layer. I don't know what it will take to replace it; it'll need to be impressive. I would advise anybody to get one,