Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rab MeCo 120 Tee Review

I was recently perusing several "top gear of 2012" lists and it got me thinking about my favorite piece of gear from last year.  No question, it is the Rab MeCo 120 tee.

The Rab MeCo 120 is a base layer made with about 65% "ethically sourced Australian Merino wool" and 25% polyester treated with Cocona® technology.  Cocona® technology uses activated carbon grains derived from discarded coconut shells and other natural porous particles. One description I found says that Cocona® is a "coconut/nylon blend designed to increase drying time."  (I think they actually mean that it decreases the drying time.)  There is also some discussion that the blend increases the durability of the shirt, which can be an issue for merino wool products.

I found out about this product after returning this summer from a week-long hike in the White Mountains where it failed to rain hard only on the first and last days.  Link.  Nothing I brought on the trek stayed dry, and after a couple of days, everything I wore had a funky smell that would not go away!  My base layer was polyester wicking shirts, that did not perform to my satisfaction.  

Shortly after returning home, I came across a blog posting about the Rab MeCo on GearJunkie.com.  Entitled "Stink Test: Never-Washed T-shirt Worn for Months," the report claimed that the shirt was used on bike rides, skiing, and even a half marathon without being washed.  The idea that I could purchase something that might dry quickly and not smell was very appealing after a week in the Whites.  I think I can still smell that funk in my head!  I was interested enough to email Rab and ask them for options, since no store within a several hour drive of my home appeared to carry the product.  I eventually found a store near New Haven, Connecticut, and when I called them, they even had it on sale!  I should have bought two.

I received the shirt in time to take it on a 5 day bike trip on the C&O Canal, and on the first day's ride veered off course in the Paw Paw Tunnel, hitting the wall and putting a quarter sized hole in my sleeve.  Damn!  But I still wore it most of the rest of the week, and wore it on a 20 mile hike of the Appalachian Trail south of Harper's Ferry on our down day in the middle of the trip.  It wasn't pristine at the end of the week, but was much better than any of my other shirts would have been after all that activity.

Celebrating the end of our 5 day bike trip.  The Rab is the blue shirt on the right,
shown after 3 days of biking and a 20 mile Appalachian Trail hike.
Despite the hole, I loved the feel of the shirt and have kept wearing it as a baselayer.  Someday, I am going to patch that hole, when I figure out what is best to use.  But in the meantime, the more I wear it, the more I like the shirt.  I even wear it to work sometimes, though I make sure to wash it first!  And the shirt is not itchy at all.  I always thought that wool was itchy, but I guess that does not apply to merino wool.  Great stuff.

The shirt is very lightweight, weighing in at about 4 ounces.  It works great in warm conditions and is equally good in cold conditions.  Combined before the first frost with a outer shirt that provides tick protection, I have a system that is both cool on the uphills and warm and dry heading back downhill.  I wear one of two models of tick protection shirts from Railriders, along with tick protection pants from the same company, and have never found a tick on my body when wearing this clothing.  It is an ideal situation for hiking in Virginia.

The only place I will not wear the shirt is to the gym, as I can't wear a shirt with a big hole in the sleeve!

The shirt is sold by a number of online retailers, and retails for $65.  I have looked regularly for these shirts on sale, finally finding it on sale at Prolite after Christmas, where I bought a replacement.   Prolite also has the following review of the shirt:  Prolite Review.

The Rab Meco also comes in a long sleeve version and in heavier weights.  The 120 I bought is the lightest weight, and there is a 165 weight and a 250 weight.  The number refers to the fabric's weight in grams per square meters.  The shirts are form fitting, and I have been happy with mine in size Large, even though I usually wear a Medium tee.

I am looking forward to this summer's backpacking trip with the scouts and using the shirt to help lower my pack weight.  I figure a week long trip can easily be done with two shirts, and I may not even need the second one.

Disclosure: Jeff Monroe (Wandering Virginia) purchased his Rab MeCo 120 with his own funds and was not provided with a sample for review.

Be sure to check out other posts at Wandering Virginia.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Jeff. I've just bought myself a long sleeved version which I will be trying out on the Norfolk coastal path at Easter weekend (UK). It's £40 in the UK but if it performs then all the better. The long sleeved version weighs 160gms which is nearly 100gms less than my polyester baselayers!

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