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Roman Trail Outfitters Merino Long Sleeve - Women's Review

A low cost, lightweight merino wool top
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $50 List | $49.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Exceptionally breathable, well-priced, doesn't smell, functional for all seasons
Cons:  See-through, lacks durability, pills
Manufacturer:   Roman Trail Outfitters
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2020
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 4
  • Breathability - 25% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Layering Ability - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a merino wool top at a great price, the Roman Trail Outfitters Merino Long Sleeve is an excellent option. Its light and breezy 100% merino wool construction makes it a wonderful option to wear when heading from the mountains to the beach. Even after days of wear, it wards off the stink. Its wicking power will keep you dry, even when layered under a fleece or jacket. We used it for resort skiing, running, backcountry skiing, and even boating. In all cases, we were impressed. By nature of its thin fabric, it lacks both warmth and durability. Some of our testers didn't like how see-through the lighter colored fabric we purchased turned out to be. Buy a darker color to avoid having to wear a tank top underneath and enjoy its great price.

You might see this top listed as the "Western Owl Outfitters" merino wool long sleeve at some online retailers.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

This product is an excellent lightweight merino wool base layer top offered at an excellent price that'll keep your wallet full. It features 160 advertised grams of insulation, exceptional wicking power, and good coverage throughout. Unfortunately, the lighter colors are almost see-through. It isn't only light on your wallet, but light on the body as well. Packable and protective, it presents a decent value but isn't very durable.

Performance Comparison


This lightweight top is one of our favorites for trail running  backpacking trips  and ski tours. Its super-light merino fabric is breathable and it sells at a great price.
This lightweight top is one of our favorites for trail running, backpacking trips, and ski tours. Its super-light merino fabric is breathable and it sells at a great price.

Warmth


This top is 100% merino wool, meaning it has an exceptionally wide range of thermoregulation. Different brands construct their tops differently with unique weaves and densities in their architecture. This one features a lower density of fiber per square centimeter (or so it seems) meaning it's not very warm. While the company advertises to use 160-grams of insulation (on par with our midweight competitors), we would beg to differ. This top feels exceptionally lightweight and offers little when it comes to stand-alone warmth.


We wore it while cross country skiing, resort skiing, split boarding, backpacking, and running through the Winter and Early Spring. We learned that under a good fleece layer and jacket, it is a wonderful complement to any cold-weather layered outfit. Since many of our activities in the winter are high output (meaning we sweat a lot), this thinner layer is ideal. However, for adventures that required just a dog walk or sitting around in the snow, it felt too cold.

We get caught in a little snowstorm on an early Spring hike/run up Bridge of Heaven in Ouray  Colorado. The thin layer  with fleece and jacket  offered a perfect amount of wicking power to keep us warm as we hiked and ran through the snow storm.
We get caught in a little snowstorm on an early Spring hike/run up Bridge of Heaven in Ouray, Colorado. The thin layer, with fleece and jacket, offered a perfect amount of wicking power to keep us warm as we hiked and ran through the snow storm.

Wearing this top on its own isn't really ideal with the see-through nature of the (creme) top, but we did it anyway, just to test its performance. For this case, we used it while backpacking into the Gunnison Gorge late Winter in Colorado and running around the mountains. When the wind picked up, the material didn't offer much wind resistance, which made it colder.

It also does an excellent job as a base layer in desert environments. Here we hike in Escalante Canyon early Spring when it changes from cool on the trail to hot at the crack climbing crag.
It also does an excellent job as a base layer in desert environments. Here we hike in Escalante Canyon early Spring when it changes from cool on the trail to hot at the crack climbing crag.

Overall, this is a highly breathable layer that skimps on warmth by design. While it functions adequately in a layered system, make sure you have a nicely insulated fleece or jacket. It will wick away moisture from your skin, ultimately keeping you warmer in colder conditions when layered properly. For use on its own, we'd recommend it for running in cool weather, or even as a sun cover in the summer.

While it's not the warmest  it does its best work for high output activities in both the winter  spring  fall  and perhaps even parts of summer. If it gets cold  simply throw an insulating layer over top of it!
While it's not the warmest, it does its best work for high output activities in both the winter, spring, fall, and perhaps even parts of summer. If it gets cold, simply throw an insulating layer over top of it!

Breathability


This 100% merino wool top features excellent breathability that'll keep you dry throughout the seasons.


We wore this top while backcountry snowboarding, cross country skiing, and running. In all our endeavors it did an excellent job wicking moisture away from the skin to keep us dry. That material doesn't absorb or hold the moisture either. When hiking uphill out of the Gunnison Gorge in warm weather, the temperatures sat around 70F. We started to perspire, but the top stayed on. In the end, the only part of the shirt that was wet was under our backpack where moisture couldn't adequately move away from the body under a pack. All the other parts of our body stayed nice and dry.

The Roman Trail top is supremely breathable as we observed with its looser knit fabrics that offer lots of ventilation.
The Roman Trail top is supremely breathable as we observed with its looser knit fabrics that offer lots of ventilation.

While skiing, we wore this top under a fleece jacket that is also highly breathable. Even though we sweat moving uphill, both layers easily vented the moisture, and we were again - left dry. When running with a small pack on our back, all parts of this shirt stayed dry, with the exception of the small unbreathable patch where the backpack was.

Running is one of our favorite things to do. It's made better by great clothing that can breathe and keep you dry  even when you're sweating your butt off while trying to "run" the steep perimeter trail in Ouray  CO.
Running is one of our favorite things to do. It's made better by great clothing that can breathe and keep you dry, even when you're sweating your butt off while trying to "run" the steep perimeter trail in Ouray, CO.

In all experiences, this super light top has become our new favorite for breathability. While we would typically wear a tank top underneath when wearing it on its own (the white color is see-through), it still offers impeccable breathability that'll keep you dry.

Comfort and Fit


The Roman Outfitter top is nice and soft against the skin with a fit that's amenable for most women. Our only discomfort is its see-through nature that isn't very welcome. In fact, when worn on its own, we typically had to layer a tank top underneath so we weren't flashing our bra around town or on the trail.


We wore a nude bra with this top so it doesn't seem as see-through. The fit is "normal" with good length through the arms. It's not short or long  but just right.
We wore a nude bra with this top so it doesn't seem as see-through. The fit is "normal" with good length through the arms. It's not short or long, but just right.

As is true with most brands of merino wool, it feels soft against the skin. It's not plush, silky, or smooth, but comfortable. The materials aren't itchy in any way. The collar design provides lots of coverage over the chest, while the fabrics offer a nice amount of stretch.

This top does come up just a little bit when you move your arms. But for the most part  the fabrics are soft and mobile.
This top does come up just a little bit when you move your arms. But for the most part, the fabrics are soft and mobile.

The fit of this top isn't especially long, but not short either. It's suitable for women of all shapes and sizes. The arms are medium length. It doesn't have any comfort features like pockets or thumb loops. It's pretty barebones and simple. We love fabric mobility and that we can wear it throughout the year. We don't know if it has a UPF rating (no info on their website).

We find a cool canyon to hike in the Gunnison Gorge. The base layer (without a tank underneath) provides just the right level of warmth and breathability for this exploration.
We find a cool canyon to hike in the Gunnison Gorge. The base layer (without a tank underneath) provides just the right level of warmth and breathability for this exploration.

Layering Ability


The fabrics on this shirt are thin and stretchy, making it easy to layer underneath a fleece, jacket, or shell. The material hugs the skin, and you can easily grab the cuff of the sleeve with your hand while pulling it on against tighter layers. You can easily put a tank top underneath if you'd like in the summer months.


It layers easily under fleeces and jackets. A tank top fits comfortably underneath in warmer weather too.
It layers easily under fleeces and jackets. A tank top fits comfortably underneath in warmer weather too.

Durability


The materials on this 100% merino wool shirt are thin. Even though we heavily tested it for only one month (and will continue to do so), we truly put it to the test. We wore it on its own while carrying a heavy pack with abrasive straps. We layered a running pack over it. We washed it several times. We put it under many different layers while playing in the dirt for days on end.


The result? The material is pilled throughout the body and on the seams, even after following specific merino wool care instructions. The logo on the back of the shirt is starting to wear away while dirt and grime that has ground into the fibers (that we haven't taken the time to scrub away) has made the white shirt look dirty. It's not surprising that a trade-off for incredible breathability is durability. Other lightweight tops use Nylon in its construction to reinforce the fabrics, but the trade-off is less breathability and comfort. While we're not impressed with the durability of this top so far, it still offers a good level of performance despite the drawbacks. It just doesn't look as nice as it did when we started wearing it.

A look at the pilling of the face fabrics. After just a month of use  it looks a little worn but still offers good performance.
A look at the pilling of the face fabrics. After just a month of use, it looks a little worn but still offers good performance.

Value


Even though durability is questionable, you can't beat the price tag. You'll be hard-pressed to find such a great deal anywhere on the internet. Expect it to look worn after a few uses with some pilling, but its performance will stand-up.

We didn't take this top off when hiking  running  and camping for three days. It still doesn't smell and is still dry and warm. We're smiling over the great price  but just wish it wasn't so see-through.
We didn't take this top off when hiking, running, and camping for three days. It still doesn't smell and is still dry and warm. We're smiling over the great price, but just wish it wasn't so see-through.

Conclusion


The women's Roman Trail Outfitters Merino Long Sleeve is a low-cost merino wool top that surprised us with its exceptional lightweight breathability. It's a highly packable layer, wear everywhere top, suitable for adventures in winter weather and long jaunts on the trail. We just wish the lighter colors weren't see through (making us uncomfortable to wear it without a tank top in town) and its construction was more durable. Size is true to fit, and we recommend considering a darker color in this top to avoid the see-through factor.

We enjoy the comforts and breathability of this excellent base layer top. Take it with you while you backpack  run  camp  and ski. It's quite versatile. Just know it's a bit see-through and not the most durable or warm. Here we hike 1 500 feet from the Gunnison River in Delta  Colorado.
We enjoy the comforts and breathability of this excellent base layer top. Take it with you while you backpack, run, camp, and ski. It's quite versatile. Just know it's a bit see-through and not the most durable or warm. Here we hike 1,500 feet from the Gunnison River in Delta, Colorado.


Amber King