Review: CORE Merino Clothing

Moisture wicking, quick drying, lightweight, soft, almost naked skin-feel and naturally antibacterial, so it doesn’t stink… What miracle fabric am I describing? Merino wool…

Proudly South African

I first heard of merino wool being used in sportswear about 10 years ago when Icebreaker, the New Zealand merino clothing company, entered the South African market. Back then, just like now, it sounded almost too good to be true, with hikers coming back from 10 days in the Drakensberg, wearing one t-shirt, and not wanting to burn the thing at the end of it. However, the garments were, and still are, very expensive…

That’s where CORE Merino comes in – a proudly South African merino wool clothing company that gives you all the amazing benefits of merino fabric, at a much more palatable South African price point.

Naturally antibacterial

When I got my CORE Merino t-shirt, the first thing I wanted to do was to test just how real those non-stink claims are… Well, after wearing the t-shirt for 3 weeks without washing it, which included 2 gym sessions, an indoor rock-climbing session, a couple of day hikes, a 2-day hike (where I slept in it as well) and some casual wear, I came to the same, almost unbelievable conclusion as everyone else – this stuff just doesn’t stink… It’s incredible! For anyone not too concerned about wearing the same t-shirt every time they go hiking, you can basically replace all your outdoor t-shirts with two of these and be done with it.

2-day hike on Matroosberg and fresh as a daisy. Well, the t-shirt anyway…


That brings me to my next point: Sustainability. Wearing clothing that requires less washing, means less water use and less detergents and reduces the amount of clothing one needs. Also, unlike nylon and polyester, which are petroleum based, wool is naturally occurring and renewable. All in all, a much “greener” product.

Technical, yet comfortable

I’ve always carried a cotton t-shirt along on multi-day hikes to wear at night – I find it to be a nice break from the feeling of synthetic fabric. The cotton has now been replaced by merino – an even nicer sensation against the skin, better thermoregulation qualities (cooler when it’s hot and warmer when it’s cold) and naturally moisture wicking, so it’s perfectly suitable to wear while hiking as well.

Heading up Table Mountain’s Dark Gorge on a cloudy, humid day.

One can hardly believe that it’s wool when you first feel the fabric, thanks to the beautifully fine-spun yarn. After some wear, the fabric develops a more “natural” look with a slight wooliness forming.

It is recommended to wash merino products with wool-specific detergents, but in an attempt to see how much abuse this fabric can take, I’ve been throwing mine in the washing machine with the rest of my clothing, using normal detergents and I haven’t seen any serious adverse effects.

Other than long- and short-sleeve t-shirts, CORE Merino also do leggings, half-zip and polo shirts, underwear and even softshell jackets.


If you’re looking for a new hiking t-shirt, do yourself a favour and try one from CORE Merino. I’m fairly certain that, like me, you’ll almost immediately start looking at what other garments in your wardrobe you can replace with merino. It’s just a brilliant fabric on every level!

These garments were provided by CORE Merino for review purposes and can be purchased from their online shop:

About Arno van der Heever 54 Articles
Co-founder of Hiking South Africa, Arno loves the outdoors and finds joy in sharing it with others. He is a qualified mountain guide, a keen rock climber and has a "thing" for technical footwear and backpacks.


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