A price tag of $76 is indeed expensive for a shirt, but as far as merino wool products go, that's cheap. The price is what initially drew us to the Minus33 Isolation, with hopes of scoring the great performance commonly associated with merino wool for significantly less dinero. This thick-skinned model is beastly, weighing the most of any model, but it didn't shred through the competition. It offered just an average performance pretty straight across the board. We hate the motto "You get what you pay for," especially when it appears to be correct…
Minus33 Isolation Midweight Wool ReviewPrice: $76 List | $54.68 at Amazon Pros: Least expensive merino wool, 50+ UPF protection
Cons: Not very breathable, dries slowly, poor weight to warmth ratio, average comfort
Bottom line: This contender is moderately priced for a merino wool, but a lackluster fit and overall underwhelming design didn't perform as well as its competitors in most metrics.
Fabric Weight: Midweight - 230 g/m 2
Thumb Loops?: No
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Isolation Midweight Wool by Minus33 was the lowest scoring merino wool product in this review. In our opinion, Minus33 chose a great fabric but forgot a few things when it came to quality design. It was the lowest-performing merino wool we reviewed, but also came with the lowest price tag at $76 for like-fabric products.
Although we expect heavier, thicker products to provide better insulation, this contender proved that this is not the only deciding factor for warmth. Weighing eleven ounces, this base layer is heavy for a midweight top. However, it only scored in the middle of the pack regarding warmth. This top would benefit from a tighter fit. We found it to be a shame that this cozy, warm material was somewhat wasted on a poor fit.
This model does have a zipper garage to keep the cold metal from your neck, but we found it too floppy and awkward to be very excited about it.
The Isolation Midweight Wool was the least breathable of the merino wools, and one of the lowest scoring in this metric overall. Shirts tend to be more breathable when the fit is next-to-skin, and this model is baggy. Also, the thick fabric makes it more difficult for moisture to be transmitted into the outer environment. In our indoor workout test, it took just over eight minutes for our skin to dry under this model.
Comfort and Fit
The loose fit of this top wasn't our favorite. The sleeves easily slid back on our arms when raised, allowing our wrists and forearms to catch an extra chill. However, they tended to slide back into place when our arms were lowered, and the torso was long enough to cover our stomachs with our arms overhead. We preferred products with a more snug fit.
The thick seams on at the hem of the sleeves felt overboard and uncomfortable, while the thick seams running under the armpits also weren't our favorite, and the fabric was a bit itchy, being wool. Lastly, if you're looking for style, look elsewhere. This top isn't very flattering. While it didn't have any dramatic flaws, the Minus33 just doesn't feel very nice, especially in comparison to several other more comfortable, better fitting models.
It took the Isolation Midweight 18 hours to go from sopping wet to completely dry, which is on the slower end of the long underwear spectrum. We contribute this largely to its thick fabric. Like the other merino wools, this top required agitation before it would become fully saturated.
The thick fabric of this base layer strikes us as quite durable, despite being made of traditionally delicate merino wool. It didn't show any signs of wear after our testing period. The seams around the arms have begun to fuzz and fray, though. The locking zipper pull tab felt chintzy, but we didn't experience any problems with it. The entire zipper was sewn off-center, which didn't instill further confidence in the sew-manship.
This contender easily slides over t-shirts and other base layers without a significant effect on mobility. When worn as a first layer under a tight-fitting jacket or mid-layer, this model moved around more than we wished for and bunched up a little in the armpits. Overall, this top layers pretty well.
If you're spending a significant amount of time in cool to cold temperatures without moving too much or engaging in low-intensity activities, this model might be for you. The Isolation Midweight is good for waiting in a deer stand or fishing off the side of a lake, as you can easily keep it tucked in to improve its insulation while waiting for elusive big bucks and whoppers. In cold temperatures, we recommend wearing at least one more layer on top of this garment. Also, more robust upper bodies will likely appreciate the loose fit of this contender.
Costing $76, this is an inexpensive merino wool top. It's tough to find 100% merino wool base layers from any manufacturer with a lower MSRP. While it didn't perform up to snuff in a few categories, it is still valuable to folks looking for a wool top that won't break the bank.
The thick Minus33 Isolation Midweight Wool base layer has an attractive price tag, but its performance didn't live up to the more expensive and more efficient models. Coming in toward the bottom of our list of competitors, we think the design of this product could stand improvement.
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Most recent review: December 19, 2016
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