Being a new mom I was browsing the web in the beginning of the year for Merino nursing bras which I could use for hiking as well as for everyday life. I quickly stumbled upon the Swedish brand Boob Design (yes, that is the actual name!) which focus on making sustainable clothes for all stages of motherhood, with clever double function for pregnancy and nursing. Luckily the Boob Design team was up for sending me three items for testing in return for unbiased reviews; a long-sleeved Merino base layer, a Merino nursing bra (reviewed here) and a nursing sports bra (reviewed here). I have been using the base layer for two months now, testing it for various outdoor activities as well as for everyday life and concluded that the long-sleeved Boob Design Merino nursing top is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The Boob Design Merino top is made of 94 % Merino wool and 6% elastane for fit and elasticity. The density of the fabric is 200g/m2, making it a mid-weight base layer. The wool is organic and sourced from South American farms where the sheep have been treated well and not been exposed to the painful process of mulesing due to the farmers’ holistic view on animal welfare and environment. The fabric is also GOTS-certified, which means that it fulfills various ecological and social criteria for the entire textile supply chain, as well as free of harmful substances as all Boob Design garments are certified according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX. You can read more about the brand’s sustainability practices here.
One thing I noticed when I touched the material for the first time is that it is slightly less soft and smooth to the touch than other Merino base layers I own. The feel is more velvety and fuzzy than silky, and indeed the wool fibers used are “merely” of the Fine grade with a diameter of 19.5 microns compared to the Superfine fibers (18.5 microns) used in the Isobaa Merino 180 top or the Ultrafine fibers (17.5 microns) in the Formal Friday Merino t-shirt. It is, however, important to remember that 1 micron is only as thick as about one hundredth of a human hair, so 1-2 microns up or down is not a crazy difference in fineness. When I’m wearing it, it doesn’t feel any different than when I’m wearing the Isobaa top, but when running a hand over the garments one after the other, you do feel a vague difference. On the other hand, the slightly thicker fiber is also stronger and might make the top last longer than other Merino base layers of finer fibers. I have yet to experience any durability issues with the Boob Merino top, but will of course update this review in the case that they should arise.
Comfort, fit and sizing
The Boob Design Merino top is multi-functional in the sense that it is designed to both fit you with and without a baby bump, while allowing quick access to the breasts for easy nursing. Now, my baby bump was already long gone when I received the top, but I don’t doubt that it would have fitted me just fine at the height of my pregnancy as it has almost the same dimensions as the Isobaa top which I wore in that period. Both tops are rather long in the torso which provides enough fabric to cover a protruding belly, while being stretchy enough to fit it comfortably. Being somewhat tall (1.73 m/ 5’8’’) the extra length suits me well, but more petite women might want to size down.
With a bust measurement of 94 cm (37’’), I was just on the verge of a size L according to Boob’s sizing scheme, but I’m happy to say that size M fits me just fine – it’s form-fitting but not too tight. The Boob Design Merino top has rather long sleeves which feature narrow thumb holes, but they can be rolled up at the cuffs without feeling bulky. The thumb holes especially come in handy (pun intended) when the weather turns out to be colder than expected. In terms of seams, the top is stitched with regular seams rather than flatlock seams, but as pointed out in our article on flatlock seams they are also not necessary for Merino base layers.
The key feature of the Boob Design Merino top is naturally the nursing function. One rarely buys a nursing top without wanting to breastfeed, but what is great about this top is that it is one that you want to wear also after you’ve finished the nursing period. All in all, I must congratulate the brand for making an elegant and sporty nursing top. In other nursing tops I mostly feel dowdy and frumpy, but the Boob Design Merino top makes you feel more like a dancer or a nimble yoga instructor – even if you can’t touch your toes! The top ensures easy yet discrete access to your breast(s) by having the two front pieces overlapping across the bust horizontally. It is modelled after Boob Design’s award-winning Classic Top – which you can see in the video at the bottom of the review to understand how the concept works. While the Classic Top is made of cotton and thus not appropriate for hiking and other aerobic activities, the Boob Design Merino top offers all the advantages of Merino wool – breathability, temperature regulation, natural sun protection and anti-microbial properties, which means you can wear the top longer before you have to wash it due to odor. Another benefit of the overlap across the bust is that the wool keeps your breasts warm and snug – very important if you want to avoid getting the very painful mastitis condition (I suffered from it a month after giving birth and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody).
One comment that I have to add, nevertheless, is that Boob Design should maybe consider making the Merino top in an even warmer (denser/heavier) version for the cooler seasons. The reason for this suggestion is that nursing tops, in my opinion, work best when worn directly over the nursing bra. Wearing two nursing tops over one another besides the nursing bra to stay warm during cold days is slightly impractical because it suddenly gets to be a lot of fabric layers which have to be bundled aside to breastfeed. The Boob Design Merino top thus functions best as a base layer rather than a mid-layer.
Washing and drying
Boob Design recommends two gentle ways to wash the Merino nursing top – either wash it by hand in cold water or in the machine on the wool/delicate cycle in a wash bag. In any case, you should use a suitable wool detergent and steer clear of fabric softener, bleach and the tumble dryer. When you care for your garments properly, they will last longer and thus leave a smaller environmental footprint.
I would recommend every mother(-to-be) planning on nursing to buy the Boob Design Merino nursing top because it is functional and comfortable, and furthermore a garment which can easily be worn beyond the nursing period. It is great for everyday life as well as hiking and other outdoor activities, and as a new mom with plenty of laundry you will love how little a Merino top has to be washed. It also doesn’t hurt that Boob Design is an all-around sustainable company which commands both respect and admiration. Who doesn’t want to support the good guys – especially when they are women? 😉
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.