How do you improve on the already impressive benefits of wool fabrics?  If you’re Patagonia, you make it lighter, softer and more stylish, without compromising any performance capacity.

Patagonia Merino Air Crew Features:

  • Fabric construction: 5.6-oz (190-g) 51% merino wool/49% Capilene recycled polyester
  • Seamless 3D construction
  • Zigzag knit pattern
  • 9 micron-gauge yarn; lofted wool insulation
  • Weight: 196 g (6.9 oz)
  • Three color options
  • MSRP $129

Patagonia Merino Air Crew Review

Patagonia Merino Air Crew Review

Wool has experienced a Renaissance of sorts in the athletic apparel industry over the past couple of years.  No longer the scratchy fabric of your father’s old Army blanket, wool is easily spun into very soft materials that feel as plush and comfortable against your skin as any synthetic material on the market.  And with natural odor resistance and wicking properties, the utility of performance wool has never been better.

Patagonia has long incorporated wool into their base layer garments, but the Merino Air Crew represents a new direction in construction and design compared to their other wool apparel, as well as compared to the larger athletic apparel market.  We’ve used ours for athletic as well as casual wear, and it functions equally well in both capacities.  It provides impressive warmth for its light weight, and works as an effective base layer or standalone piece.  The Merino Air crew is also available in a hoody option for $20 more.

patagonia merino air crew seamless

The shirt is inside out. Look closely at the seam line: it’s not actually a seam at all.

Like all of Patagonia’s merino products, wool for the Merino Air originates in the grasslands of Patagonia.  It undergoes a softening process, and is then blended with the company’s proprietary Capilene recycled polyester fabric to increase wicking and speed drying time.   The combined fabric is then spun to increase its loft and improve its insulating potential; the resulting material is extremely light weight, and is directly into a seamless garment using a 3D knitting machine.

Excessively large collar tag

Excessively large collar tag

One cool result of this process is a garment that has no interior seams that can cause chafing – but to the naked eye, the Merino Air Crew still looks like it has classic seam construction.   The zigzag fabric layout also harkens memories of old-school long johns, but (if I can borrow a popular SAT test convention) this shirt is to long johns like a Tesla is to the Edsel.  The only old-school relic from this shirt is the large tag in the collar area; Patagonia has already gone tagless on multiple garments, so it’s surprising that they couldn’t figure out a way to do it here also.

patagonia merino air contrast line

Zigzag fabric construction; sharp hemline accents

Another cool design accent is the contrast line at the arm cuffs and waist hem, which gives the shirt another dash of style above a regular workout shirt.  The Merino Air is also more form-fitting than other merino base layers, which helps shows off your physique (for better or worse) and also makes it very easy to layer under a midweight shirt or jacket.  The soft material has good stretch capacity, so even though it’s a form fitting garment, it moves easily with your body, and it’s also easy to push up the sleeves if that’s your preferred style.

patagonia merino air profile

Form-fitting profile; sleeves easy to push up

Because the fabric is so thin and light, it compresses down quite easily for stowing in a backpack or overnight bag.  However, the shirt is so versatile and comfortable that it will probably be the layer you leave on for the duration of your activity.

Good Merino Air Crew:

  • Exquisitely soft material
  • Seamless construction
  • Stylish enough for casual wear

Bad Merino Air Crew:

  • Large collar tag
  • Form fit may not be everyone’s preference

Bottom Line: Patagonia Merino Air Crew

Patagonia’s Merino Air Crew combines sustainable fabrics and innovative construction technology to improve the already impressive performance qualities of wool, resulting in a highly versatile garment that is suitable for athletic or casual wear.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.


  1. Hi Donald. Thanks for this interesting review. Could tell me how tall/big you are (Height, chest and weight) to help me choose a size when I order one of these for myself, please? Thanks!

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