Base layer review: Under Armour vs. Merino wool?

This is the time of year for the "what to wear for winter golf" kind of threads to pop up all over this forum. You canít read one of these threads without Under Armour being mentioned about a thousand times, along with people stating that this is by far the best cold weather base layer. This cult following has intrigued me every year, but I have always used the good old Helly Hansen lifa base layer, and last winter I started using merino wool instead. But finally, I broke down, and decided to resolve this once and for all. So I ordered an Under Armour Metal ColdGear mock, which judging by both the text on the web site, and the price, is the best of Under Armours cold weather base layer offerings.
So it's on. The challenge went over four rounds of golf, walking with a carry bag, interchanging the wool and the UA base layer, and keeping all other clothing variables the same (microfleece middle layer, Galvin Green jacket). The weather for all rounds were cloudy, temperature between 32 F (0 C) and 40 F (5 C) and with the wind around 7 - 10 meters/second. But before letting the contestants out of the cage, letís hear what they have to say for them selves.
Under Armour says: "ColdGear: For when it's cold. Keeping athletes warm, dry, and light. Ideal use: Temperatures under 55 degrees F. ColdGear features a double-sided fabric that wicks moisture from the skin and circulates body heat. It accomplishes the impossible by keeping athletes warm without weighing them down. UA Metal: Tip of the pyramid product. Built with premium UA technologies for maximum performance."
Icebreaker says: New Zealand Merino wool, which is light and not scratchy, unlike most peopleís view of wool. It is machine washable, warm, breathable and feels natural and soft to the skin. "To survive his extreme mountain environment, the New Zealand merino (sheep) has a thin coat in summer and a heavy coat in winter. If his coat didnít breathe in summer, heíd die of heat exhaustion. If his coat didnít insulate in winter, heíd die of cold."
So, on I went, playing two rounds of golf dressed like a New Zealand sheep in the winter, and two rounds dressed like an angry American football player. Well, that the image the two companies project, anyway. So how did it go? Well, the base layers won't make you play any better, thatís for sure. But this is not a tale of how much I suck at golf right now, fighting a swing make-over to make me actually play to my 6 handicap, no, this is about base layers. So, we heard what the companies think of their products, here's my opinion.
What I say about Icebreaker: Well, keep in mind that this is the product I have the most experience with, having used it most of last winter. Going into this test, I like this product very much, so much that I even wear it to work or around the house, when it's cold. It does what the company promises, keeping you warm with good breathabilaty, while beeing light, non-itchy and feeling nice to the skin. A great feature of wool is that it retains it's warming abilaty even when wet. Lets face it, even the best breathing material wont keep you dry if you really get the sweat going, during a extensive range session or running. This means that even if you exceeds the limit of the materials breathing capabilaty, the wool will keep you warm. This is unlike my previus experience with synthetic fabrics, which feels very cold when wet. The only real downside to the IceBreaker stuff, is the price. It is actually even more expensive than the UA stuff, which will propably be a deal breaker for a lot of people.
What I say about Under Armour: It's definetly warm, and the tight fitting material takes a bit of getting used to. But with that said, it is very warm, and a good product. I has a more cool feel to the skin, kind of like silk, where wool has a more warm feel to me. But that is just the feel of the material on the skin, tha actual abilaty to keep you warm is top notch. The compression feel is no problem to me, I didn't even notice it after ten minuttes.
Conclusion: Well, I went into the test favouring the natural wool product, and I still feel it has a small avantage. However, I'm very impressed with the UA product, and I'm going to continue using it, in parrallel with the wool products. Some thought. I think the wool is better when your'e not moving. The UA have this cool feel, even though it keeps you warm, but I prefer the warm and toasty feel of the wool. UA is better at removing sweat, though, for example during intensive warmup sessions.
I really feel that either product is very useable for winter golf, and the choice should be made based on the feel you like. For at dry, cool feel, choose Under Armour, and for a warm, toasty feel, choose merino wool.
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Thanks for a very good review, I have been looking at the UA for quite some time but the price is ..... well the price! I think after reading this I will give the UA a chance and see how I like it, again thanks for taking the time to do the "leg" work!
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Great post. Thanks for taking the time. I've also been contemplating some UA stuff but have been reluctant. I bought some cheaper compression shirts just to see if I could get used to the feel. I tend to be a sweater so I definately need something that excels in that department. I may have to finally get off the fence and try the UA stuff. Thanks again!
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I have both pieces (shirt and pant) of the UA Base 2.0 and I love it. The tightness of the shirt takes a few minutes to get used to, but by the time I start playing, it's not even noticeable.
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I love the coldgear. Yes it's tight. No it's not flattering at all to my body type. But man does it do the job. I could honestly get by all winter here in Maryland with the Coldgear and a Polo, if it got really cold, then maybe a fleece pullover on top, but that's it. As for the wool, I never thought of that. But that sounds like a really sweet product. Now if I didn't already have the Underarmour (great for paintball by the way, takes away the bruising) the wool would be a nice alternative.
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i have some confusion over UA cold gear. i have a UA coldgear base that has an inner fleece lining. it's ridiculous, i love it. however, that was the only one with the lining the store (Dicks) had. furthermore, when i go to any other sporting goods stores to check out other UA coldgear, i never find any with the inner fleece lining. am i missing something? i feel like i am the luckiest person on the planet that i found the one i did. the tags didnt say anything different other than coldgear. when the people on this site rave about UA, is the fleece lining the one they are talking about or are they missing out?
sorry, this has really be fascinating me as i go around and simply cannot find another one with fleece lining.
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I am a huge fan of the UA Cold Gear. Like the others said it is compression for sure. But I think that is good in the gold. Also can wear polos over it and very versitile. I use it as my base layer for skiing. Highly recommend.
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I looked on UA's web site and could not find anything that had a fleece lining. Even the Base 3.0 (the warmest base layer they offer), does not mention it. Maybe you found a leftover from an earlier product line. Unless you're at the Arctic Circle or something, the Base 2.0 is plenty warm.
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i was all over the UA site before and after and never saw it either. wouldnt have even known about it if the employee at Dick's didnt recommend it. got lucky that the only one they had was the only size that fits me. i'm sure the others work just as well, but i'll tell ya, the feel of that fleece under the normal coldgear base is incredible. not a smidge of restriction either.
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I recently purchased the UA Coldgear baselayer and wore it on one round- worked great. I was able to shed one of my usual thick layers so my flexibility went up.
I did notice several other brands at Sports Authority that looked similar- Nike comes to mind and I think the other I saw was Champion- but don't quote me on that. I was semi-surprised that the Nike cold weather products were slightly more expensive than the UA, but then again, maybe that shouldn't surprise me.
Excellent review- thanks for posting. I definitely concur on the cool feel to the Coldgear (and I'm sure similar products will be the same).
If it is an option, wear a size larger if the "tightness" bothers you. I'm between sizes so the large feels real comfortable.
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I definitely concur on the cool feel to the Coldgear (and I'm sure similar products will be the same).
this was actually the reason i had mentioned the fleece lining. no cold feel at all. warm and fuzzy all over.
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if you guys go to target, check out there knock off under armour gear for a 1/4 of the price. I stocked up and bought 4 longsleeve compression shirts for $35 total!
1 black 1 white 1 red 1 royal blue
The sale rack is my savior
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I played in 35* degree weather yesterday and this was my first time wearing Under Armour Cold Gear and it was fantastic. I was a little skeptical on how warm it would actually keep me. All I wore was the UA, a polo, then a microfleece, earmuffs, and a Footjoy boonie and I was fine. One drawback to the UA is that it keeps you so warm, that I notice the other parts of my body that aren't insulated so well, i.e. my legs and feet. I only wore long socks and shorts under my rain pants and although it was bearable, I might be investing in some UA or similar leggings.
*I think UA's prices are a little steep. I paid $40 for 1 shirt. If I can find the Target or Walmart brands cheaper, I most certainly will buy them. I just hope that these other "lesser" brands work just as good.
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$40 is a great price! I've seen them for $55 and even a little higher.
This is probably not the time of year to buy cold weather clothing. I'm guessing there will be some specials when the spring/summer clothes hit the stores in a month or two. Coldgear is a worthy purchase for next year...
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Loose... I am a huge fan of wool, and you point out very well why. I do have some compression synthetics - not the heavyweight UA but similar. They can feel cool to the skin when inactive. Wool is the king of warm for me.
excellent review, and I would second everything you've mentioned, I don't thing I'd change a word of it.
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I guess compared to $55, $40 is good. I have access to AAFES on military installations so it's also tax-free. So, I guess I shouldn't complain.
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The fleece inside cold gear is called the Metal line. Search ColdGear Metal and you should find some info about it.
jlww3
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if you guys go to target, check out there knock off under armour gear for a 1/4 of the price. I stocked up and bought 4 longsleeve compression shirts for $35 total!
1 black 1 white 1 red 1 royal blue
The sale rack is my savior
It is NOT the same! Before joining the darkside of UA I tried many different "UA like products" before taking the plunge. They are NOT the same. Worse, I spent enough money trying other stuff (mostly heat gear related) that I could have bought several pieces of UA.
With that being said, I now have UA everything including 3 different sets of cold weather gear.
Looseandbuild, nice review! Welcome to the CULT!
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After reading all the glowing reports, I purchased an UA metal top last year. I found the arm fabric gathers under the armpits and rubs a little and this alone has stopped me using mine. If you are not exactly built for the compression fitting, then fear not as you soon get used to it. I don't exactly know what i was expecting (probably some miracle) but for some reason, the product just did not do it for me.
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For those who dont want to pay full UA price, check out TJ Maxx. They usually have a fairly big selection of UA stuff for about half the price. I got a bunch of short sleeve ones for summer wear for 12 bucks a piece last year. They also have several of the long sleeve models too (tight and loose).
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Great review. I bought the black long sleeve UA form fitting coldgear shirt last year and loved it so much that I bought one in white and blue this year. Put this on under a polo and I stay warm all round and don't have to deal with bulky jackets or sweaters. Awesome product for winter golf!
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Thanks for the review. I am definitely interested in the fleece lined UA stuff!