15 Months with the Vulpine Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirt

I’ve had my Vulpine Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirt for two winter seasons now. It’s time to discuss how it is holding up beyond first impressions. In a word: brilliantly.

No pilling, no tears, no holes, no stink… what more would you want from a baselayer.

That’s what the shirt is to me, I wear it almost exclusively under my Sugoi RSE NeoShell Jacket. The Vulpine shirt is thus in rotation with two merino Patagonia zip-tees of different weights.

I don’t generally wear any of these on their own because I find that the wind blows through them and I feel cold with just a wool layer. I have been thinking about adding a windproof gillet to my selection and then might wear wool jerseys as a single layer on my arms more often. While the wool is knitted tightly enough that it is quite smooth and comfortable on the skin, it is loose enough to let the wind through. Surely that’s a bonus when wearing the shirt under a jacket to add breathability, but that’s in part why I don’t really end up wearing it on its own a whole lot.

In the meantime, however, the Vulpine shirt keeps me nice and warm under the water/wind-proof jacket, but not sweaty. Given the open neck, it’s my go-to baselayer in not-so-cold weather. The construction of the seams around the shoulders is very comfortable and not in the way in any riding position under any version of a jacket.

The wool is holding up VERY well. No pilling, not wear as far as I can tell. The overall quality is really terrific even after months of daily use. I wash the shirt in a primitive N American toploader then hang-dry so not particularly gentle in treating it, but there is no sign of wear even on elbows, no loose threats. This quality (rather than functionality) would justify the price entirely in my mind.

The blue colour has also stayed true all along. It continues to be much more handsome a shirt than I am or than my bike is.

Some more critical thoughts:

  • As I noted in my first impressions, the sleeves are a little too short. Off the bike, they are just right, but in a riding position, they leave my wrists uncovered which I don’t like much. [Yes, a bit of a theme, i.e. I like to stay warm!] While I am quite tall (1,96m), most of that height is in my legs and I don’t order long sleeves on dress shirts, for example, so it seems like the proportions on the sizing are a bit off for my body type.
  • Likewise, the longer back is also not very long. Worn by itself (i.e. not tucked in) the shirt covers the edge of whatever pants I’m wearing, but not much more.
  • I have never used the pocket on the back, in part because I mostly wear the shirt as a baselayer, but also because the most likely items would be keys or a wallet and those either would likely rip the pocket (keys) or don’t fit (wallet)
  • As I wear the shirt under a jacket, the reflector on the back pocket is also turning out to be less essential than I would have anticipated.
  • I do like my neck warm, so I wouldn’t mind a slightly closer collar.

Bottom line: Definitely high quality and very nice to wear. As it turns out for my use as a baselayer, some the functionality is not necessary.

 

First Impressions Vulpine Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirt

I forget now where I came across Vulpine as a brand, I think it was on a bike blog that I follow. The website and the products had an immediate appeal even within the crowding market for functional merino clothing for bicyclists and other sporty types.

I have been wearing Patagonia zip neck wool baselayers, one thinner, one thicker in the winter and thought that an additional long sleeve would be nice.

I ordered the long-sleeve merino t-shirt in navy large.

The colour is beautiful actually and the logo and pocket on the back offer a very nice accent. Straight out of the alwaysriding envelope, I thought this looked very nice. The fit is also quite good for me, snug, but not tight. The longer back is appreciated as it will be nice when I wear the shirt on its own, but is short/thin enough to push into shorts/rainpants when I’m wearing the t-shirt under a jacket.

I had to wear the shirt the next day, of course, and it performed as well as expected under my rain jacket. No bunching anywhere, nice on the skin.

I would not that the L sleeves are not long, i.e. they don’t cover the wrists. Under a rain jacket there are two obvious options for a baselayer in my mind, long enough to cover the wrist, ideally with a thumb loop at that point, or short enough that the shirt doesn’t get in the way of the cuff/glove nexus. This t-shirt is clearly of the latter variety. I also probably prefer the longer sleeves, especially with a thumb loop, but this slightly shorter sleeve will probably be nice when wearing the shirt on its own.

All in all, first impressions are very positive. Note however, that the button on the pocket on the back fell off in the first wash which is a little disappointing. I will review how the shirt holds up over the coming weeks/months of wearing it in a coming post.

P.S. (later in December 2012): My wife was kind enough to sew the button back on and both alwaysriding and Vupline reacted very promptly to my note about the button. Great service!