What the Manufacturers Say:
The next step in baselayer technology. PRIMINO® combines a unique blend of high performance PRIMALOFT® yarns and natural Merino Wool, creating a supremely comfortable and ultra-fast drying baselayer for year round mountain use.
140g Short Sleeve Crewe Neck and 140g Long Johns - Stu Thomas
Hi my name is Stu and I'm a Montaholic.
They say the first step is admitting it.
I've been a Montane fan since I snaffled an Extreme jacket from an clearance outlet for 20 quid about 10 years ago. It doesn't matter that the hood is missing or it's bright purple I love this bit of kit. Well I did until a helpful Montane rep told me it was actually a woman’s jacket; So now it lives at the back of the wardrobe with my leather trousers.
Anyway the Primino is a blend of Merino wool, polyester and Prim aloft. One of the problems with Merino I've found in the past is its lack of durability and the fact it makes you look like an extra from a Northern sitcom. Expensive tops and leggings whilst being awesome on a windy wet trip to Ireland with the editor are rags a few months later. So for all the benefits of warmth, comfort and not being a stinking reeking stench ball of mountainess, I've found myself drifiting back to synthetic baselayers.
Hopefully this won't be the case with Primino and on first impressions it seems good. The polyester is there to wick away moisture and the Primaloft for that little extra warmth. First test was a trip up Penyfan and in keeping with the brand I teamed them with a Montane Sabretooth jacket, Volt fleece and on the bottom half standard Terra pants.
On adorning I must admit I was a little disappointed. They felt a bit stiff and cardboardy. At this point I was expecting a day of itching, to be honest, and I really really detest that. After haing them on for ten minutes, though, I'd forgotten I was wearing them. They felt nothing. Though still this was just the drive!
Any fears I had were gone though by half way up the Cefn Cwm Llwch ridge. Whilst my companions kept stopping to remove layers, add layers, cool down, ya de da de da, I was happy with my core temperature. I was hot, sweaty or cold. Honestly it felt perfect. I might have needed a long sleeved version but I'd get one and use it for days like this. Like I say I forgot I had the Primino on and that is the best thing you can ever say about baselayers.
As you can probably gather I was impressed, but I wanted to really test them now so I took them to Tallinn for a city break. A lot of baselayers get thrown under general clothing for Apres Ski etc so I wanted to see if they worked for the constant changes of temperature and 3 days of wear without washing that's needed. Well OK they did. Even after lots of beer, vodka and glog I never got too hot or cold. I don't know how they've done it but Montane seem to have invented my perfect cold weather baselayers.
Only criticism, and it's just me being a poser, they still don't look as good as synthetic baselayers, but they are to be worn under rather than on they're own so that's not really important anyway. Aside from that well I cannot recommend this enough.
140g Long Sleeve Zip Neck a- Dave Mycroft
There's a simple reason why Stu didn't have the long sleeved, zip-neck, version of the Montane Primino - I was already using it.
For some reason evrybody seems to have jumped on the baselayer bandwagon over the last couple of years and there seems to be hardly a week goes by before someone's pushing a "new" blend of merino with some other yarn or a sysnthetic with silver-nano-antibacterial-krypto-argon-iodine-scientificjargon added. I've had cooling baselayers, warming baselayers, compression baselayers and just plain base layers but to be honest there's essentially been a choice between synthetic and natural. They both have their positives and negatives and the attempts to combine the two often tend to compromise too much one way or the other.
With the addition of Primaloft to Merino Montane are adding what's best known as an insulation to the already warmer choice of a natural fabric, so we expected a baselayer with a focus on warmth over wicking, The 25% polyester is no doubt in there to assist with drying times along with the 50% merino and 25% Primaloft yarn. In practice it did turn out to be warm, but with a fairly loose fit compared to many Merino and Merino based fabrics it proved surprisingly adaptable. With tempertures in the low single figures C the loose fit helped airlflow and wicking was broadly comparable to other Merino hybrids but when the temperature it drop it kept the same comfortable level down to -12C. With the possible exception of the Merino/Yak hybrids it's the warmest baselayer at these temperatures we've come across in a natural/organic hybrid. Where it scores over the Yak hybrid, though is comfort. The fit is close enough without being restrictive and the fabric has a cotton level of comfort. It's still not as quick drying as a synthetic but it's definitely more odour repellant. It's still a game of compromises but with the Montane Primino there's now a good option if wamth is high in your requirements but you don't want the restrive fit of a compression base layer.