Gear Review: Stio Men’s Basis 21 Merino Hoodie
Disclosure: The following product was provided as a donation for the purpose of a gear review.
Last month, I along with a pair of friends set out to hike Mt. of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s 53 14’ers (mountain speak for 14,000 feet). Instead of taking on the entire 12 miles in a single day, we decided to set up camp three miles in on Friday night before tackling the remainder on Saturday morning. I used this as an opportunity to try out my new Stio Basis 21 Merino Hoodie as a replacement for my Patagonia Capilene 3 zip-up (detailed in my most recent gear list).
Although I wouldn’t use the Basis as an outer layer in colder environments, I was comfortable in only this plus a light base layer down to about 50 degrees. It wasn’t until about 10pm (we had a box of wine to get through before calling it a night) that I was reaching for my down jacket. Insulation was on par with my Capilene 3, however the hood and hand pocket provided extra coverage making the piece warmer overall. One feature I’d like to see for future models is a draw string around the hood.
Anyone who’s used merino wool knows the difference vs. traditional wool- which is to say very comfortable vs. thorn bush. The only other merino layer (aside from socks) I’ve worn is an IceBreaker fleece, which is as expensive as it is comfortable (very). The Stio Hoodie was every bit as soft. A very comfortable piece.
Quite possibly my favorite element of this piece is the fact that it works as well on the mountain as it does at the bar, my two favorite places. Since thru-hiking, I’ve consciously tried to cut down on the sheer volume of stuff in my life, and one the biggest contributors to this excess is clothing. Having your casual attire also double as your hiking getup is one of the easiest ways to reduce such a redundancies. Plus, wool does an excellent job of not retaining your body’s stank- a giant plus for wearing on several consecutive days (a viewpoint my girlfriend does not share).
Simply put, I wouldn’t spend $165 on this hoodie (the suggested retail) or any other. Someone with the means to do so will be getting a very high quality item, but if you’re tight on money, there are better value alternatives. It is worth keeping an eye on Stio’s Web Specials in case this item ever does go on sale. I’d also love to Stio carried at REI. This would be an absolute gold mine find at a Garage Sale.
If the thought of spending $165 on a mid-layer hoodie doesn’t frighten you and you’d get good use beyond hikes or backpacking trips, then this is a good buy. Merino wool is going to be pricey regardless of where you get it as it boasts superior comfort, resistance to stank, and moisture wicking. I have heard some issue warnings of merino wool wearing down with constant friction against a pack, but 2,000+ miles of backpacking will do that to any fabric- I’m not sure if merino is better or worse than others (gear heads, please weigh in). If you’re like me (read: poor), there are cheaper alternatives that’ll do the job for your day, section or thru-hike.
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