Artilect Boulder 125 Review
Cons: Price may make you do a double-take, care instructions need to be followed when drying
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Artilect Boulder 125
$110.00 at REI
|$110 List||$100.00 at REI|
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$34.93 at REI
$39.95 at REI
|Pros||Extremely breathable, ultralight stretchy nylon/Merino wool blend||Soft next-to-skin, super warm for its weight, durable and all-natural||A nice balance of warmth and breathability, super cozy, nicely articulated design||Great value, warm but still breathable, very comfortable for a synthetic||Unbeatable price, breathable, quick drying, functional|
|Cons||Price may make you do a double-take, care instructions need to be followed when drying||A touch heavy for fabric weight, slow to dry after washing||Expensive, stretches out in between washes, slow to dry when saturated||Slightly short inseam, fabric could be stretchier||Short cut legs, average comfort and warmth|
|Bottom Line||A seriously tuned ultralight pair of wool/nylon blend leggings built for fast and light outdoor adventures||Undeniably comfortable, warm, and breathable, this rough-and-tumble pair of 100% merino long underwear has it all||Designed to keep you warm in the coldest conditions, this is a versatile pair of merino wool bottoms||For cold weather trips on a budget, this pair of synthetics are hard to beat||Slender and breathable, these are everything we expect out of a lightweight pair of long underwear|
|Rating Categories||Artilect Boulder 125||Ortovox 185 Rock'N'...||SmartWool Merino 25...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Comfort and Fit (30%)|
|Specs||Artilect Boulder 125||Ortovox 185 Rock'N'...||SmartWool Merino 25...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Material||85% Nuyarn Merino wool, 15% nylon||100% Merino wool||100% Merino wool||100% polyester||92% polyester, 8% spandex|
|Fabric Weight||125 g/m²||185 g/m²||250 g/m²||N/A||N/A|
|Weight (size M)||4.34 oz||6.4 oz||8.3 oz||7.62 oz||5.46 oz|
|3/4 Boot-Cut Available?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Most of the magic of the Artileck Boulder 125 leggings comes from the use of its namesake via a 125 g/m² 85%/15% Merino wool/nylon blend called Nuyarn. We were skeptical over some of the claims presented, but our lab and field tests have shown there's something to wool free-spun around a nylon core. This allows the wool filaments to come forward to fully express what makes wool amazing, leaving the nylon core in the background and out of the way to strengthen the fabric itself. What you get is a great warmth-to-weight ratio fabric — this lightweight also means a smooth feeling legging that breathes amazingly well and dries quickly. We wouldn't baby these leggings on a trip, but be mindful of caring properly for them when you're back in civilization to facilitate keeping them lasting for years to come.
We put the Boulder 125 to the test on a shoulder season backpacking trip into Colorado's high country, wearing them under our top layers on alpine starts and while sleeping in our minimalist open-air bivvies high above tree line. For their svelteness, the amount of warmth the Boulder 125 provides is exceptional, even when we knew we were stretching the abilities of such a lightweight pair of long underwear. We woke up toasty even when we noticed the water in our bottles was icing over.
As a Spring, Summer, and Fall piece, these leggings could be perfect — overheating shouldn't be a problem, especially if you're on the move. You may want to consider a different, heavier-weighted pair of long underwear for colder trips.
Using thin, 125 g/m² wool fabric, it's no mystery why these leggings are some of the most breathable long underwear we've ever reviewed: the 85% Merino wool/15% nylon fabric is absolutely sheer in appearance. In fact, you'll even discover small gridded holes — what Artilect calls "eyelets" — in specific areas: the back of the waist and on the gusseted inner leg, allowing even more heat and moisture to escape. Couple this with the wicking nature of Merino wool, and these pants thermoregulate very effectively.
We appreciated these additional more breathable parts as they kept us dry and happy when snoozing in our sleeping bags and saved us from an awkward midnight costume change by headlamp. In the morning, as the temps ramped up on our backpack down, we were thankful to be able to keep the underwear comfortably on until we could find a good place to change.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort is high for the Boulder 125. The lightweight Merino wool/nylon blend moves easily with you as you roam around your environment and lofts up higher than its weight alone would have you predict. We didn't experience any bunching up as the cut is more on the fitted side. These tights are stretchy but recover quickly to their normal state. Surprisingly, no additional elastic material has been added to the fabric; it's all from the Nuyarn wool/nylon blend.
We found the additional breathability afforded by the eyelets in the lower waist and gusseted crotch pretty clutch when temps got higher. The flatlock seams are stitched using a very thin thread that keeps chafing and irritation at bay, even though there are more panels to the construction on these leggings than most.
Fit does seem to be on the slimmer side. Of note: the manufacturer's measurements are for the wearer and don't reflect the garment's measurement. For example, our pair of size mediums had a waist diameter of 31" but are designed for a waist between 33" and 35" (our tester sizes pants for a 32" waist). If you're used to picking out technical outdoor gear from Europe, get into that mindset when choosing your size. We suggest that if you're on the cusp of a size, go up.
Our main tester is a cycling enthusiast known to haunt the weight room squat rack, and these tights fit acceptably, thanks to the fabric's stretchiness. The elastic waistband measures 1¼" thick and keeps the tights up without feeling too constrictive.
Like waist diameter, the inseam length is a little shorter than what we normally expect for a medium: we measured a 28" inseam (Artilect doesn't state an inseam) so if you're especially long-legged, also consider sizing up. Do be mindful when washing the Boulder 125 as the Merino wool could shrink slightly if dried incorrectly. Sizes from XS to XXL are available, but not Short or Long. Finally, there's no fly on these pants. Rather, it sports a two-fabric layer on the front panel.
Durability is loosely correlated with the weight and type of fabric being utilized. The lightweight 125 g/m² Merino wool-based fabric in the Boulder 125 will set the realistic ceiling on what you can expect from such a thin fabric: it's just going to be less durable than a heavier fabric. The fabric Artilect utilizes, called Nuyarn, does reinforce the natural fibers by spinning them around a nylon core at a proportion of 85% wool and 15% nylon.
Because the wool is what's exposed, expect some cosmetic wear to happen early on. Fuzzing and pilling of the wool will inevitably happen. In our real-world tests outside on a strenuous backpacking trip, this pilling was incidental, and the leggings retained their integrity showing no tears in the seams or fabric, as well as preserving their stretch and recovery.
Our laboratory abrasion test takes no prisoners, and we saw fabric rips similar to other similarly weighted garments. We would be cautious about wearing these as our only layer in rough, outdoor locales, such as traveling in thick brush or scrambling/rock climbing. Under an outer layer, these tights will perform wonderfully.
Since these leggings are made of natural materials, we also stress following the manufacturer's washing instructions to prolong the garment's life. Artilect is fairly strict: wash inside out on the gentle cycle and dry in the shade. If you don't want to commit to babying these while washing, consider a different pair and perhaps a fully synthetic fabric that can take a little more abuse.
There's a lot to think about when purchasing a pair of long underwear, not the least of which is the price. The Boulder 125 is not the cheapest pair of long underwear on the market, but with its price comes the quality of the materials used, the sewing, and the cut and design.
Regardless, these leggings are an investment. And with an investment comes proper care. If you are up to the task of maintaining these properly, you'll reap the rewards from wearing good-looking, warm, breathable long underwear at an ultralight weight.
The Artilect Boulder 125 leggings are uncompromising in providing you with a versatile, warm, durable, and breathable pair of long underwear. For shoulder season and summer adventures, they're one of the best choices you could make for your next outdoor adventure when the temperature starts to dip down. Because they're so light, bring them along as "just in case" insurance or indulge in their comfort when you'd before go without.
— Justin Simoni
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