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Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Long Sleeve - Women's Review

A great thermoregulator with some durability issues
Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Long Sleeve - Women's
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $110 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great thermoregulation, comfortable and fitted fabrics, great patterns and colors
Cons:  Poor durability
Manufacturer:   Ortovox
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Breathability - 25% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9
  • Layering Ability - 20% 9
  • Durability - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Ortovox 185 Rock n' Wool - Women's is built with sustainably sourced wool out of Tasmania. Selling products all around the world, Ortovox is becoming more popular in the USA. Through our testing, this base layer proves to be exceptionally warm, comfortable, with a huge range of thermoregulation. While it advertises a 185-gram weight, it feels much warmer, offering performance in a layered system on the coldest days of winter, or worn on its own on cool summer nights. Wearing it while hiking, camping, canoeing, and running, we learned that you can sweat like crazy in it, then chill out without taking it off. The wool doesn't absorb smells much, even after wearing for several days on end. Unfortunately, in our experience, the Achille's Heel of this top is its lower durability.

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Pros Great thermoregulation, comfortable and fitted fabrics, great patterns and colorsWide range of thermoregulation, cozy materials, no odor after long wear, longer fit through torso and arms, versatileCozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, high quality performance, versatile, stash pocket, tight fitWarm, durable, breathable, thumb loops, 1/4 zip design vents well, excellent value, no odorAffordable, powerful wicking and breathing, easy to layer, durable construction
Cons Poor durabilityStretches after wearing for several days, thick construction isn't ideal for warmer daysMore expensive, not super breathableNeed to size up on fit, shorter torso and arm lengthNot warm, fabric is itchy to some
Bottom Line A great thermoregulator with some durability issuesThis top provides cozy comfort, top-notch thermoregulation, and resists odor build-up better than any model we testedThis high performance synthetic is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream upA good looking blended polyester and merino wool top that outperforms its price tagOur favorite lightweight base layer with excellent breathability for aerobic activities and shoulder seasons
Rating Categories Ortovox 185 Rock'N'... Smartwool Merino 25... Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Carhartt Force Heav... Smartwool Merino 15...
Warmth (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Breathability (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Comfort And Fit (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Layering Ability (20%)
9.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Ortovox 185 Rock'N'... Smartwool Merino 25... Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Carhartt Force Heav... Smartwool Merino 15...
Fabric Weight Midweight (185 g/m²) Midweight (250 g/m²) Midweight (185 g/m²) Midweight Lightweight (150 g/m²)
Measured Weight (size) 5.1 oz (small) 8.4 oz (medium) 7.0 oz (small) 6.8 oz (med) 4.6 oz (small)
Material 100% merino wool 100% merino wool Torrent (84% polyester / 16% elastane) 80% polyester, 20% wool 87% merino wool, 13% nylon core
Cuts avaliable Crew, 1/4 zip Crew, 1/4 zip 1/4 zip neck 1/4 zip Crew
Smelly over time? No No Yes No No
Odor Control Fabric Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant Polygiene Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant
Thumb Loops? No No No Yes No
UPF (Sun Protection) No No N/A N/A No
Length (short, medium, long) Medium Medium Long Medium Medium
Fit (Based on 5'7, 140-lb woman wearing size small) Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Tight and long, true to fit. Fit is small, size up Fitted (not tight), true to fit.
Accessory Pocket? No No Yes (on arm) No No
Flat-lock seams (prevents chaffing) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

After testing this top, we thought to give our Editor's Choice Award to this amazing base layer. But, the Ortovox Rock n' Wool proved to have a less durable architecture than other competitors, wearing through a few holes during our testing period. It stands out for its seemingly lightweight construction that offers amazing warmth and impeccable thermoregulation. We also love its cool patterns and colors that look great.

Performance Comparison


A great thermoregulator that offers amazing comfort from the trail...
A great thermoregulator that offers amazing comfort from the trail to the house. Unfortunately, this Ortovox 185 Merino Wool base layer has a few durability issues that are disappointing.
Photo: Amber King

Warmth


Constructed with 185-grams of 100% merino wool, this top provides more warmth than expected. We tested it while running and hitting the slopes, and it proved warm in all cases. We would commonly go running with it, then sit down inside and start our work without taking it off.

Here we are checking out a waterfall to climb up at the Ouray Ice...
Here we are checking out a waterfall to climb up at the Ouray Ice Park. This mid-layer provides great warmth in addition to a well-chosen outdoor clothing system. Here, we wear it with a thicker mid-layer and insulative jacket.
Photo: Amber King

In super cold weather, its best in a layered system that is insulative to different degrees depending on what you're doing. While skinning uphill during a backcountry ski mission, you'd be fine wearing it on its own in cool weather. In super wet conditions or weather that dips below, a thinner mid-layer is really all you need. Overall, it is a warm top, even though the material feels pretty thin. Ortovox packs a punch into its thin materials.

Thin and very warm! This shirt does a great job breathing in both...
Thin and very warm! This shirt does a great job breathing in both warm and cold weather.
Photo: Amber King

Breathability


Offering good thermoregulation, we would use this top for backcountry skiing in the winter, running in the winter, or while backpacking in the summer. While the materials aren't as thin as our lightweight contenders, they wick well and move moisture for the skin efficiently. One thing we did notice is that the fabric does tend to hold moisture, especially if the area isn't properly ventilated. For example, where a bra that holds moisture or a backpack lay. Therefore, make sure the layered system that you wear with it can vent to move moisture effectively. This is typical of pretty much any base layer.

Here we test the breathability of this great layer while running a...
Here we test the breathability of this great layer while running a country road in the San Juan mountains. After, we went back to the house, sipped tea and continued to wear this shirt without issue.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort & Fit


We love the way this crew-cut base layer top fits. The fabrics are stretchy, but don't lose their shape. The 185-g weight is still thin and cozy. We would commonly wear it after our run, and the fabric would be nice and dry. It doesn't stink, even after being worn for several days in a row. We also love the color scheme and style.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
We absolutely love the stretchy materials, cool design, and super...
We absolutely love the stretchy materials, cool design, and super long arms and torso. This is on a 5'7" woman who is 145 lbs. She chose to wear the size medium, while in most other base layers, she wears a small.
Photo: Amber King

The fit is long in both the torso and arms. We were able to try on two different sizes and learned that if you're on the fence, we'd recommend to size up. Our main tester is about 5"7 and 145 lbs. She had to choose between and small and medium and decided on the medium. Other tops she wore were size small. While she could have worn the small, the medium was more comfortable to layer and lounge. Therefore, while the size is relatively true to fit, if you prefer a tight fit, go with the smaller size. If you like it looser, go with the larger size.

Layering Ability


This top has about average layering performance. It is loose enough to put a tank top underneath easily. However, the face fabrics are a little grabbier, similar to other midweight merino wool products.

Here it fits nicely underneath a tightly fitting fleece layer. While...
Here it fits nicely underneath a tightly fitting fleece layer. While it was a little hard to get the fleece on, the base layer is thin enough for great performance anyway!
Photo: Amber King

The arms and torso are long enough to easily grab the arm material to get it underneath a thinner mid-layer. However, its not as easy to layer as tighter-fitting synthetics or lightweight competitors.

It is super easy to layer underneath a thin wind jacket on a colder...
It is super easy to layer underneath a thin wind jacket on a colder day as well!
Photo: Amber King

Durability


When looking at our metrics, this base layer top almost took our Editors' Choice Award for its all-around great performance. However, when doing our final fabric inspections, we noticed several small holes in the fabric that would have gone unnoticed had we not taken a closer look.

A sad day. These holes wore through after a run with our running...
A sad day. These holes wore through after a run with our running pack that has a mesh shoulder that fits tightly to the first. As you can see, it abraded after just a few 5-mile runs, which was a huge bummer!
Photo: Amber King

At this point, we had only tested this top for a couple of months. While we did put it through the paces, wearing it while lugging around firewood, lounging, slogging around backpacks, and wearing it underneath other layers, it proves to be a disappointment in this aspect.

Value


While we love this base layer, it is quite expensive for performance and durability. While the shirt is guaranteed to be sourced from ethically treated sheep, we have a hard time finding the value in this piece. There are other options out there that are less expensive and with more reliable durability.

Conclusion


The Ortovox 185 Rock n' Wool had us very excited during our testing process. It performs exceptionally well with amazing thermoregulation and has great style. We got many compliments on the street, with Ortovox users being die-hard tributes to the brand. However, when we were about to award this our Editors' Choice, we found holes in the face fabric. Unfortunately, durability isn't up to snuff. Aside from that, we love how it performs and will continue to use it despite the small holes we found on the shoulder.

Enjoy this top while doing just about anything. Just be aware of its...
Enjoy this top while doing just about anything. Just be aware of its potential durability issues that you may or may not encounter.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King