Aspect High Rise Base Layer Bottoms
Ridge Merino is a family-owned business, founded in 2014 and based in Mammoth Lakes, California. As the story goes, one of their co-founders worked for a major ski brand and noticed that all of the pros always chose merino layers over synthetics, and thus the company was born, providing pro-quality apparel to the masses.
I’m a big fan of merino wool and also prefer it every time over a synthetic alternative when given a choice. I also love leggings and wear them routinely. I especially appreciate the High Rise since I could use them interchangeably as leggings or underneath a top layer as intended. As the name implies, they sit “high” on the traditional waist for a secure and comfortable fit.
The material is lightweight, non-itchy, and silky smooth with a slight sheen due to the 14% nylon and 6% spandex components, which also helps maintain the garment’s original shape. I’ve run into multiple grabby tree branches and thorns while wearing the High Rise on various trails and never experienced a snag in the material; this base layer is as durable as it is comfortable. Even when worn as leggings, they kept me warm and dry last winter, without being too toasty on the occasional 70-degree day. The High Rise comes with all the benefits of merino wool: anti-odor, anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, and temperature-regulating. It almost feels like wearing nothing at all, despite the “heavyweight” 18.5-micron diameter size of the fibers. Sun protection is standard at UPF 50+.
Photo: Jay Dash Photography
Merino wool requires special care such as a cold wash and line dry. Though I wouldn’t recommend doing so, on multiple occasions I accidentally washed them in warm water followed by short stints in the dryer. I’m happy to say I experienced zero shrinkage, or at least none that was noticeable. (TO)
$75 | ridgemerino.com
Convict Canyon Base Layer Joggers
Picture a pair of joggers that are as comfortable as your favorite pair of pajamas, yet can be worn to your favorite café for a cold-weather trail run or as a base layer while skiing. Ridge Merino’s Convict Canyon Base Layer Joggers are just that: a super versatile do-everything pair of pants that are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and environments. I’ve quickly adopted them as one of my favorite layers.
I’ve come to appreciate the Convict for many reasons. To begin with, they are slim-fitting, which is great for athletic endeavors like trail running, hiking, and camping, when you don’t want excessively baggy clothing getting in the way of your movement. I also appreciate the fact that they are lightweight and breathe better than a pair of jeans or chinos. But despite the fact that the Convict is well-suited to athletic pursuits, they are also a comfortable choice for long driving or travel days or while hanging out in your travel trailer at camp. They also work well as a base layer, helping wick moisture away from your skin.
While they are fairly simple, the Convict features some technical design elements, like zippered hand-warmer pockets and a functional drawcord to secure the waist. These little details make them more utilitarian than other joggers that I’ve used.
In addition to the fit and features that make these a stand-out layer, the Polartec Power Wool construction offers a range of benefits. This hybrid material maintains most of its thermal insulating qualities when it is wet and has anti-microbial properties that help it manage body odor. This last quality is especially valuable if you are the type of traveler who likes to get multiple days of wear out of an item before relegating it to the hamper. (MS)
$100 | ridgemerino.com
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