In late spring we got in touch with the Swedish outdoor brand Houdini which is known for its high-quality products, manufactured in a sustainable manner. We agreed to test and review the Desoli Merino base layer for women and the Daybreak soft shell jacket for men (will be reviewed by Blaz soon). For the past months I have been wearing the Merino base layer weekly for hikes, walks, tree climbing and everyday life. I can thus safely state that the Houdini Desoli base layer is suitable for:
- Everyday life
The Houdini Desoli base layer for women is made of 100 % Australian Merino wool fibers with a diameter of 17,5 micron – the same as the Formal Friday t-shirt, and only beaten by Lasting’s 16 micron Merino wool garments (one micron equals 1/1000 of a millimeter or just 1/100 of the width of a hair strand). In other words, we are talking about some of the finest Merino wool you can get your hands on. The wool is originating from mulesing-free sheep, but also the people making the base layers have been treated fairly as the Desoli base layer is manufactured in Lithuania – part of EU and thus subject to various rules about fair pay and labor rights.
The fabric is soft to the touch and very light with a density of 150 g/m2 which makes it suitable for all times of the year, except perhaps the coldest of winter days where you want more insulation from your base layer, depending on which mid layer(s) and shell layer you are wearing. Being made exclusively of Merino wool rather than mixed with synthetic fibers, it means that all the benefits of the material are uncompromised, such as breathability, softness, temperature regulation and anti-microbial and moisture-wicking properties.
Sizing and Fit
According to Houdini’s size guide I’m exactly a size Medium, except around the hips where I’m a size Large. I thus went with size M, and in spite of the base layer being relatively long cut and slim fit I have no problems with it being too tight around my love handles. It also fits nice and snug around the torso. I do, however, think that the slim fit is a bit too tight in the sleeves which almost have a compression sensation to them, especially in the upper part. It’s not like the snug sleeves inhibit my freedom of movement, but they are “felt” more than the sleeves on my other base layers, which have a looser cut. I don’t think I have particularly big upper or lower arms, so if you, dear reader, have more muscular arms, do consider sizing up.
As mentioned, the Desoli base layer is long cut – in fact it is even longer than the Isobaa 180 crew base layer. Laid out flat, the Houdini base layer has a length of around 48 cm (almost 19’’) from the arm pit seam down to the hem while the Isobaa base layer is an inch shorter. This makes the Houdini Desoli the longest base layer I have tried! This is by no means a bad thing but you should keep it in mind if you are petite and/or don’t like longer base layers. The sleeves are naturally also quite long, so you can make use of the thumb holes.
Comfort and Functionality
Narrow sleeves aside, the Houdini Desoli base layer is very comfortable to wear since it is filled with functional design details and made of first-class Merino wool. To start with, all seams are flatlock seams which are crucial for tight-fitting base layers. Secondly, the base layer features a raglan sleeve construction which alleviates the tightness of the sleeves in terms of freedom of movement. Freedom of movement is additionally improved by underarm gussets and augmented tailoring along the sides. The raglan sleeve construction also has the advantage that there is no seam on top of the shoulders, which can otherwise chafe you while carrying a heavy backpack.
The sleeves are equipped with thumb holes, which are useful for chilly mornings and evenings, or when you reach a windy peak. Besides being long cut, the Houdini Desoli base layer also features a drop tail hem. The brand name and size are printed in the back of the neck, but the construction is not completely tag-less as you will find washing tags sewn into the side of the Desoli base layer. You are of course free to cut them out whenever you choose as it is not hard to remember how to wash wool or indeed identify a garment as woolen by the look and sensation of it. At least if you are as used to Merino base layers as I am!
Washing and Drying
The Houdini Desoli base layer should be washed on a cold (max 30 ºC) and gentle cycle – or a wool program, if your machine offers that. Merino garments will last longer if you wash them gently. You should also use a wool detergent, which are formulated differently than regular detergents. Always steer clear of bleach, fabric softeners as well as tumble dryers as these treatments can affect the durability and breathability of your woolen garment.
The Houdini Desoli Merino base layer is a great all-year base layer, made of the best Merino wool possible and produced in a sustainable manner. It is made with flatlock seams, underarm gussets and a raglan sleeve construction for optimal comfort. The only downside is that the sleeves themselves are relatively narrow, especially in the upper part, so you might have to size up depending on how buff your biceps are.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- All the qualities of first-class Merino wool
- Flatlock seams all-around
- Raglan sleeves, underarm gussets and augmented tailoring
- Sustainably produced
- Relatively narrow sleeves