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The Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech Shirt is a lightweight blended wool-nylon shirt designed for cyclists. You can wear it as a baselayer for added warmth on chilly rides, but it’s nice enough to wear on its own, too.
To get us a closer look, Showers Pass sent Man Makes Fire two review units. I tested out a short-sleeve version while our publisher tried out the long-sleeve version. This is what we learned:
I’m 6’1” and weigh 189 pounds. I ride 3-4 days a week, mostly mountain biking, but I also hit the gravel every now and then. I’m generally a size large, which is what I went with here.
The fit was a bit tight across my chest, but frankly I have a fairly large chest. The fit worked well for riding, but if you’re looking for more of a casual wool t-shirt kind of fit, look at the Showers Pass size chart and consider sizing up if you’re in between two sizes.
If you’re aiming for a snugger fit that you get with most base layers, stick with your usual size.
As for the wool blend, 85% merino and 13% nylon, Showers Pass does a nice job here. The company uses merino that’s ring-spun around a nylon thread core. The result is a slightly stretchy but durable fabric that feels good.
Overall, the fabric has a fairly fine weave — it’s definitely a lightweight shirt.
The back of the shirt is slightly longer than the front. I have worn it both gravel grinding and mountain biking. I even went down once and the shirt did not sustain any damage. It has no pockets for storage like a jersey, which makes it a bit more versatile for wearing in non-cycling situations.
When you’re on the bike, it breathes well and wicks moisture, keeping you cool in the sun. When the temperature dips and I’ve thrown on a shell, I’ve been happy with the results.
The best thing about merino wool is that it has some naturally anti-microbial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria and the smells they produce. This means that you can wear wool base layers — or wool socks — multiple times without the funky smells you’ll get with cotton or most synthetics. This is why so many backpacking thru-hikers wear merino wool socks.
If you’re a casual rider who is rarely more than a day away from a washing machine, this might not be a big deal. On the other hand, if you want to go for a hard ride and then grab a beer with your buddies, wearing a merino wool shirt means you won’t scare everyone away with your post-ride smell.
Seriously, merino wool works, and that’s why outdoor enthusiasts like it so much.
Chris Maxcer reports that the sleeve length is about right. “I’m a fan of the Apex Merino Tech Shirt,” he says. “It’s lighter weight than most wool base layers I wear and it looks more like a shirt than a base layer. I’ve worn it riding, worn it camping in the snow, and I’ve worn it skiing. Even when I’ve pumped out the sweat, it never smells. It’s a versatile technical layer that’s casual enough that you can get away with wearing it alone. I’m a fan.”
All-in-all, the Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech Shirts are solid, lightweight merino wool shirts. If you’re tired of stinky synthetics and want a versatile wool option, it’s hard to go wrong here. Highly recommended.