Sometimes it’s not about having a well-stocked wardrobe; if you’re dealing with Merino wool, one dependable garment can do the work of a whole drawer full of fancy synthetics. PULSE Activewear is on the scene with a variety of Merino options made in America from New Zealand Merino.

All PULSE Activewear apparel features:

  • Made with Zque accredited, ultrafine New Zealand Merino wool for comfort and sustainability.
  • Designed and made in the USA
  • Naturally provides UPF 50+ protection.
  • Naturally wicking and odor resistant.
  • Smooth seams and interior heat-transfer labels to minimize skin irritation.

Pulse Activewear Merino Crewneck Review

Men’s Crewneck Sport Shirt:

  • Two color options
  • MSRP $64.95

Pulse Activewear Merino Zip Sports Shirt Review

Men’s Zip Neck Sport Shirt:

  • 9-inch zipper collar for body temperature regulation
  • Small zipper pocket on the lower right side
  • Seamless underarms for comfort and freedom of movement
  • Two color options
  • MSRP $79.95

Pulse Activewear Merino Zip Sports Shirt Review - Women's

Women’s Zip Neck Sport Shirt:

  • 9-inch zipper collar for body temperature regulation
  • Small zipper pocket on the lower right side
  • Seamless underarms for comfort and freedom of movement
  • Four color options
  • MSRP $79.95

Pulse Activewear Women's Naked Merino Sports Bra Review

Women’s Naked Ultra Sports Bra:

  • Material construction: 38.7% Merino wool, 44.8% Nylon, 16.5% Spandex
  • Bra cup lining: 96.1% New Zealand Merino wool, 3.9% Spandex
  • Support for A, B, C, or D cups
  • Struts 3-point support system for superior cup support and lift
  • Built-in lift element that spans under and supports both cups
  • Bra cups lined with PrimaSoft Merino wool for enhanced comfort, wicking and anti-reveal
  • Wide, soft Velcro adjustable shoulder straps for comfort
  • Traditional triple bra hooks for support, adjustability and easy on-and-off
  • Deep “U” cut back for maximum ventilation
  • Stylish soft V-neck cut in the front
  • Interior heat-transfer labels to minimize skin irritation
  • Fully covered, wide 1 1/4″ elastic chest band for maximum comfort, anti-chaffing and wicking
  • One color (black)
  • MSRP $64.95

pulse zip neck running

Pulse Activewear Merino Throwdown

It’s no longer unusual to find performance apparel constructed exclusively from Merino wool; the challenge now is to find ones that are comfortable enough for high-performance, long-duration activity, and durable enough to stand up to test after test over an extended period of time.  And if they are somewhat affordable, that would be a nice bonus.

PULSE Activewear’s spring apparel checks all those boxes off the list.  My female reviewer and I have been testing the tops for the better part of three months, and they’ve demonstrated a wonderful combination of comfort and performance.

My testing included the following:

  • Wearing the crew neck shirt as an undershirt or stand-alone layer for 8 days straight without washing on a recent business trip.
  • Using the zip neck shirt as a base layer under cycling shirts and jackets for 6-hour road bike rides
  • Using the zip neck as a base layer and stand-alone layer during weekly 20-to-30-mile training runs in preparation for …
  • Wearing the zip neck at the Miwok 100K trail run this month, a 14-hour day featuring cold morning air, hot midday sun, frequently strong winds on ridge lines, and sustained exertion over 13,000’ of climbing.
pulse athletic miwok 100k

After the Miwok 100K; the weird look on my face means “my legs hurt”.

The crew neck shirt performed brilliantly, resisting odor accumulation and remaining comfortable day after day.  The zip shirt is equally impressive, and I was especially pleased to find that the zipper didn’t irritate my skin as other zip shirts have done in the past.  It has a long center hem line to stay tucked in (much appreciated on my bike rides), and a smooth finish that minimizes friction when worn under top layers.  The zip neck shirts are made with trail running in mind, and they are suitable for all conditions aside from exceptionally harsh heat.

In all my testing, I found only two small drawbacks:

  1. The wool fiber does feel noticeably warmer than performance fabrics when temperatures rise, although the zip neck is helpful to ameliorate this.
  2. The zipper for the mini pocket on the lower right can cause some irritation if tucked below the waistline of a pair of shorts for an extended period of time.

How does the women’s line stack up?

Our female tester’s experience with the zip-neck shirt was similar to my own: it’s a durable, comfortable shirt that can be used over and over, with a fairly flattering female cut through the trunk and sleeves.  Additionally, she found that the Ultra Sports Bra is somewhat innovative in its category, and may be the first true high impact Merino wool sports bra on the market.   She has used it extensively for running as well as yoga and high-intensity floor workout routines.

The bra eliminates underwires that might cut into your skin while running, and utilizes a three-point support system for lift and support.  Its interior lining is plush PrimaSoft fabric that eliminates seams and provides effective moisture management and temperature regulation properties.   There’s minimal cup padding in the front, so your shape in the Ultra bra will likely be a bit different than some other running bras out there.

From a fit standpoint, the bra feels snug around the rib cage, and the compression against the front of the chest is more noticeable than support from underneath.  The shoulder straps are thicker than typical sports bras, but don’t cause any chafing or discomfort.  Our tester was especially pleased that the adjustable straps stayed securely in place once set, and didn’t come loose with long activity.

PULSE Activewear Overall Performance:

The Good

  • Outstanding odor resistance
  • Comfort for long duration activity; no irritation from neck zipper
  • Durable and versatile for repeated use

The Bad

  • Retains more heat than synthetic performance fabrics
  • Minor irritation from zipper pocket if tucked in

The Bottom Line

PULSE’s philosophy is to focus their product lines on a small number of high-quality essential pieces rather than having a broad product line with inconsistent quality.  Their shirts fit this description perfectly, as any single piece can become your go-to garment for a variety of uses.  The Ultra sports bra has a somewhat unconventional fit that takes some getting used to, but ultimately provides the same versatility and reliability for high-demand activity.

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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.

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