An invisible friend over the past few months has been Chocolate Fish’s TeMata 260 Merino Crew. I’d always avoided heavier weight merino as a base layer, but “Test it, you’ll see” sounded like a challenge, so I gave it a go.
The fabric is a little different to the merino I’m so well used to on the Taranaki 190 base layers, the TeMata being cut from 260gsm fine jersey merino which is a bit thicker and a bit beefier feeling too. I’ve been using the same fabric as a midlayer for a couple of years where it’s brilliant in cool weather over the lighter merino, but when I pulled the crew on over bare skin I didn’t get any “I should have a t-shirt on” feelings, it still feels smooth to me.
The medium is a nice slim fit on me, mind you the TeMata zip I have is a large and it’s still great over a light base layer, that’s one great thing about Chocolate Fish, the gaps between their sizes aren’t huge leaving you stuck with a compromise fit, if one size isn’t perfect, there’s a good chance the next one up or down will be.
Heavier weight merino is almost soft-shell in it’s performance, I remember waffling on about this ages ago, and it’s all come back to mind again, that microclimate stuff. The heavier fabric has a little more wind resistance, a little more warmth retention and the same comfort over a variety of conditions. The TeMata works very well as single layer, even in a light shower (there’s something delightful about not suiting up for a few drops when you know the sun’s coming back, but I digress…), but the surprise was when I layered it up. I’ve worn it under Gore’s new Performance Shell which I thought might push both fabric’s a bit as the heavier merino should want to hold onto the sweat a little longer, but it was actually fine, which takes me back to the thought that wearing just a base layer under Paclite gets the best from the shell fabric, so maybe wearing a better performing shell helps with the heavier base layer? Not scientific at all I know, but I was comfy and the TeMata didn’t get overloaded under regular-paced activity. A little dampness in your merino is never offensive, but I’ve haven’t taken the Temata on an overnighter as my sole base layer yet as I did wonder about working hard, overloading it then not being able to dry it out before bedtime and sleeping in a properly damp baselayer which I haven’t had to do for years. I’ll give it a go next winter though.
One thing I often struggle to dress for is family days with an outdoor element to them, I don’t want to be one of these folk you see in Ambleside using trekking poles down the street while being dressed for a 8000m peak, but I still want my proper fabrics at times as my cotton Black Sabbath t-shirts just don’t cut it. Step up the TeMata crew, it’s non-tech looking, it’s just a long-sleeve t-shirt, it’s not skin-tight like many of my base layers, the heavier fabric has a nice drape to it and the colour means it goes with outdoor pants, jeans or whatever. I’ve worn it all over the place because of that, it’s just nice to wear, and because it’s annonymous tech, it feels like a secret weapon. Pleased.
The fit is typical Chocolate Fish with a good length to the sleeves and body, it has a simple construction and good moblity. The cuffs and hems are neatly finished with a soft neck band that has good stretch for your napper but returns to and is holding its shape. The seams are soft and that carries on to the whole top, the fabric is soft and stretchy, very comfy and it’s washing well and keeping its shape. Weight for my medium is XXXg, and as always it’s genuine Kiwi gear.
The TeMata Crew isn’t something I would have thought of on my own and it’s been a pleasant surprise, magic for cool hill days, all-year as an extra pull-on (it packs down very small) and every day slacker or casual wear. Nice.