Rab Merino+ 120 Crew Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
From the biting, humid cold of the UK, Rab brings a home-run hitter to the plate with their Merino+ 120 Crew, a lightweight baselayer that goes above and beyond for high energy pursuits in a myriad of temperatures. The mind-blowingly breathable merino/polyester blend integrates a technology that allows it to wick sweat and dry faster than any almost any top we tested. Not a heavy hitter for warmth, this top is versatile in everything but bone-chilling cold.
This base layer definitely finds itself in the lightweight category. The thin material is super breathable and allows cold air to pass through much easier than a thicker fabric. For how lightweight and thin it is, it does an impressive job of locking warmth in when layered underneath insulating or shell layers, but stand-alone next to skin, the porous fabric is not meant for super cold conditions.
This top excels in situations where you are working up a sweat. It is extremely efficient at wicking sweat away from your body and keeping you dry. The weight of the fabric is versatile enough that you would be dry and comfortable trail running in the crisp fall air as well as cross-country or backcountry skiing. A long torso, drop tail hem and fitted arms through the sleeves aid the warmth ability by making sure you are always covered no matter the level of movement. We would recommend this for cool to cold temps and into deeper cold temps if you are going to be engaged in high-intensity activities.
This is where this base layer blows the roof off. The merino wool/polyester blend incorporates an innovative technology called 37.5™. This technology embeds active particles into the fibers that enhance its ability to capture moisture and speed up the conversion of liquid to vapor by providing 800% more surface area to the top's fibers. We're not sure what kind of witchcraft is happening at Rab, but we're all about it!
This base layer slays it when it comes to wicking sweat away from your body and drying faster than you can spell Hocus Pocus. The nearly see-through fabric allows air to pass through with ease, which means it's not the best alone in cold weather, but it sure keeps you cool when you're working up a sweat. This top exceeded all other tops that we tested in its ability to breathe, thus keeping you warm/cool and dry during high output activities.
Comfort and Fit
This Rab top scored high marks nearly across the board and comfort, and fit are no exception. Another reason this top stood out for us. The folks at Rab take their job seriously when it comes to creating high quality and intentionally designed gear. Thoughtful and minimalistic construction designed for mobility make this our favorite fit of the bunch. The lightweight merino blend is soft against the skin with no itch. A well-designed stitching pattern allows for completely unrestricted mobility.
Flatlock seams, offset shoulder seams for carrying a pack, and a gusseted underarm that runs the entire length of the garment hugs you during movement and allows the top to stay in place when bending over or reaching up. No exposed skin, anywhere, ever! A flawless fit with a low profile out-of-the-way collar, tapered sleeves, comfortably snug, drop tail hem, stretchy fabric, and sufficient length throughout the sleeves and torso made us fall in love with the way you meld into this layer as it quickly becomes a part of your body. If you want a layer that can be worn over top another layer, this top is not for you. We'd recommend the REI Co-op Merino.
This thing has a fear of water much like your cat. The second it senses any sort of moisture on it raises its cackles and beelines for the shore. This layer tied with the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Crew for the fastest dry time of any top tested. We could barely saturate this top and set it out before it started drying.
As all merino has proven, it doesn't want to naturally soak up water and takes some effort to fully saturate the fibers. Completely saturated and laying flat to dry, it dried over four times faster than the slowest tested! The drying speed of the fabric goes hand in hand with its uncanny ability to breathe making this a top choice for those people out there who just love to sweat! If you derive pleasure from busting your tail or you are naturally a swamp creature when you play outside, this a great top for you.
Umph. With its impressive test scores, this is the black mark on the report card. Although it exceeds in every quality we search for in a base layer, it just is not the most durable layer. It's thin 65/35% merino/poly blend may breathe well, but it's not what we would call tough. It wasn't the weakest fabric in our abrasion test, but it is by no means impressive. This top will perform at the highest level for you but may not last you a lifetime. If durability is deciding factor for you, we would look elsewhere.
It is not going to fair as well through wear and tear as a thicker fabric like the SmartWool Merino 250 and consistent washings and drying in a machine will kill this dead sooner than you'd like. But as always, we are firm believers in the virtue that if we take care of our gear, our gear will take care of us. If you wash this only when it needs, and keep it away from the dryer, it has the potential to last you a good long while. It didn't lose shape, shrink, or show much wear from washing and drying during our testing period, but we are still cautious. There wasn't any pilling on the surface of the fabric, and it held up pretty well through our testing, but we still aren't convinced that its lifetime would match that of some thicker fabrics.
Because of its superior fit, its layering ability is matched in excellence. The tight and tapered sleeves eliminate excess fabric and stay in place when sliding sticky mid layers over the top of it. The thin and stretchy material allows for it to layer nicely without feeling bulky or restricting any movement at all. Even though this has a snug against your body fit, the stretchy material allows it to layer over a t-shirt well, which was surprising.
When adding layers on top, the quality of fit eliminates any excess bulk or bunching and truly feels like you're not even wearing anything at all. We wouldn't suggest using this as a mid layer because the fit is just too good directly against skin or over a lightweight technical tee.
With its expert ability to breathe and keep you dry, we suggest using this for energy-intensive outings where a top's ability to breathe, wick away sweat, and keep you dry in varying conditions is of the utmost importance. This top is made for activities like cross-country and backcountry skiing, trail running, climbing, hiking, and other activity where you'll be working up a sweat in cool to cold temps.
At $85 retail, this top lands in the middle of the range for price. Not cheap by any means, but if you are serious about being active in the outdoors through the seasons and need a base layer that is going to perform at the highest levels, we think the value of this top is worth the price. If you are looking for a top that is equal in breathability - the not as warm Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Crew is our Best Buy Award winner at only $49.
If you love to get out all year long and crush, this top is a well designed, high-performance base layer. If you live for heavy packs, steep hills, long skins, and sweat-inducing tortures of any kind, the ultra-breathable lightweight merino blend fabric of the Rab Merino+ 120 is a technical fitting and high performing top that will keep you dry and comfortable through all your sadistic, lung burning fantasies.
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