Midweight base layers are all about versatility. Not too thick and not too thin… just the right thickness to take you from the skintrack to the groomers without overheating or freezing you. With all the variety of materials available these days, the choice isn’t quite as clear as it once was when Yosemite Sam wore his drop-seat waffle thermals.

Merino wool has become the latest trend in sustainable, high-quality base layers. What was once the norm, lost favor to synthetics, but is now back with a vengeance as the industry has embraced their sustainability and the innate thermal properties of these natural fibers. Last year, I used and loved the Gordini Lavawool base layers and this year I’ve been using the Duofold Varitherm wool base layers made with a mixture of synthetic and natural Merino wool fibers. Lets see how they fared.

Duofold Varitherm Wool Base Layers - Review

About the Duofold Varitherm Dri-release Wool Base Layers

With a mixture of 84% polyester, 11% Merino wool and 5% Spandex, the Duofold Varitherm wool base layers are built to provide both moisture management and warmth when needed. As a mid-weight base layer, they are built for versatility with the ability to add more layers on top during inclement conditions.

More features of the Duofold Varitherm Dri-release Wool base layers:

  • 360° stretch for maximum flexibility and optimum fit.
  • Dri-release® technology provides optimum moisture control
  • FreshGuard® system prevents odor
  • Flatlock seams to help avoid irritation
  • Drop tail for added protection against the cold (tops)
  • Thumb holes for added protection against the cold (tops)
  • Wicking waistband for total moisture control (bottoms)
  • MSRP: $44.00 (zip-T) and $39.00 (bottom)

Duofold Varitherm Merino Wool - Thumb Loops

Duofold Varitherm Wool Base Layers Review

Wool-blend thermals are pretty common, but with all that hype you’ve still got to pick your base layers carefully.  Yes, Merino wool can provide better thermal properties, moisture management and odor protection, but the whole package has to be in place… not just the fabric.

Duofold has been making solid base layers for years. As one of the more ubiquitous brands in the base layers industry, they have a ton of experience keeping people comfortable in a variety of conditions. The new Dri-release Merino wool base layers are available in midweight crew neck or zip-t tops and ankle-length bottoms. Pretty simple overall but with a few nice touches like the thumb loops.

Those thumb loops are killer for backcountry skiing or skiing in powder. I tend to prefer a shorter glove and on occasion, my wrist will get exposed.  With the thumb loops in place, there’s no skin exposure, thus keeping my hands and wrists warm–even if I take a digger or dig a snow pit.

I’ve felt plenty warm when needed and have also been kept comfortable–even under heavy exertion in the backcountry.  These have dried quickly and kept me warm even when wet.

Just a few drawbacks with these base layers. The fabric mixture is a little more itchy than other Merino-blends I’ve tried.  I only really notice it when I first put it them on, but after that it pretty much goes away. I’m also not very impressed with the straight cut bottoms.  They aren’t sewn anatomically correct, so they tend to ride up my backside more than I’d like (backcountry wedgies aren’t fun).

The last gripe comes from the lack of front fly.  These are for men, so I can’t see any reason why they don’t have a fly in the front. Bathroom breaks are a little more of a hassle than they should be.

Good Varitherm

  • Perfect midweight comfort
  • Wicks moisture and dries quickly
  • Love the thumb loops

Bad Varitherm

  • No front fly makes bathroom stops difficult
  • Bottoms aren’t built anatomically

Duofold Varitherm Wool Base Layers Review

The Bottom Line on the Duofold Varitherm Wool Base Layers

Midweight base layers are the best option for sheer versatility. These Merino wool-blend base layers from Duofold have kept me warm and comfortable in the backcountry and at the resort. I’ve had no issues with their performance, but really wish they had a front fly and could compensate for my backside. I love the top, but the bottom needs a little work. Still, the price is right if you are OK with the less-than-perfect bottoms.

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About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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