Just before Christmas I received the Isobaa Merino Beanie Hat for testing. When I unwrapped it, I was delighted to see that the Isobaa hat is a bit thicker than the other Merino hats I have. All my other Merino hats are very thin, and as such not really suitable for temperatures below zero. So, I was happy to have a new warm Merino hat for the cold months ahead. I thoroughly tested the hat on the Velika Planina hike (to be published soon) in the Alps in February. However, I have also been wearing the hat on a daily basis and during several short hikes here in Denmark. Below is what I learned about it.
The Isobaa Merino Beanie Hat is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The Isobaa Merino hat is made of two layers of 100% Merino wool fabric with a density of 230 g/m2. When I put it on for the first time, I immediately noticed that the fabric is very soft and smooth. According to Isobaa the hat uses 18.5-micron Merino wool which is the second highest grade of Merino wool. Hence, it’s not surprising that the fabric feels nice to the touch without any itching. Now, when it comes to hats for hiking, you typically want a hat that is breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and odor-resistant. That’s what I focused on while testing the Isobaa Merino hat.
When I switched to the Isobaa hat I quickly noticed that it provides very good warmth because of the two-layers of relatively thick Merino fabric. It’s much warmer than the other Merino hats I have and thus suitable for temperatures below zero. I wore the hat at temperatures as low as -5° C and it kept my head warm and snug. I was also very satisfied with the breathability. Although the hat is relatively thick, it provides good breathability as the knitted material is somewhat porous.
The hat also nicely pulls the moisture from your skin and transfers it to the outer layer where it can evaporate. All in all, I was impressed over its moisture management. I wore the hat on the Velika Planina hike, which was a rather demanding hike with a total distance of 21 kilometers and an ascent of more than 1300 meters. The hat was efficiently pulling the sweat from my skin throughout the hike, and yet it was completely dry by the end of the hike.
In terms of odor-resistance, I was also very satisfied. I wore the hat for more than two months without washing it and I haven’t detected any signs of odor in spite of occasionally drenching it with sweat. It is, however, no surprise as Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, and I have never had bad experience with Merino apparel in terms of odor resistance. To learn more about Merino wool do check out my Guide to base layer materials.
Sizing, Fit and Comfort
The Isobaa hat comes in only one size but as the material is very stretchy this shouldn’t be a problem. My head circumference is 56 centimeters and it fits me perfectly. However, the Isobaa hat is a bit longer than other hats I have. It’s designed so that the top of the hat is slouching as seen on the photo here. Now, I wasn’t particularly impressed over this concept, but I found a really good way to use the extra length: I simply rolled the hat slightly up at the bottom and used it as a cuffed beanie. This way the hat also provides extra warmth for the ears. If you often do activities that require a helmet (mountaineering, via ferrata trails etc.) you will have to roll the edge of the hat up this way as the excess fabric at the top will otherwise bother you under the helmet.
Otherwise, I found the hat very comfortable to wear. The fabric feels super nice against the skin and the washing instructions inside are printed to prevent chafing. However, I did notice that the print started to peel off after only washing the hat once. Nevertheless, I don’t consider this a major flaw. The hat doesn’t have flatlock seems but since it has a two-layer construction this is not a problem. The excess fabric from the seams is between the two layers and thus not felt/seen.
Washing and Drying
The Isobaa hat can be machine washed at 30° C (steering clear of fabric softener) and shouldn’t be tumble-dried. As the hat is made of Merino wool, which is naturally antimicrobial, it doesn’t have to be washed as frequently as hats made of polyester, cotton and other materials.
I like the Isobaa Merino hat because it’s comfortable to wear and very warm. The hat is suitable for temperatures down to -5° if it’s not too windy. As it’s made of high-quality Merino wool it feels nice against the skin and is odor resistant. I was especially impressed over its moisture management. When I was hiking, the hat always pulled the moisture efficiently from my skin and kept me dry throughout the hike. All in all, the Isobaa hat is a great addition to my hiking apparel and I’ll keep wearing it for hiking in cold to very cold conditions.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.