Montane Primino 140g Crew Neck - First Look: £42 / 124g (medium)
Primino is a new baselayer fabric from Montane using a mix of 50% merino wool, 25% PrimaLoft and 25% polyester fibres that's the latest entry in the relentless quest to find the Golidlocks combination of comfort, warmth, wicking and drying. In this case it's in the form of a simple, crew-neck tee, but Montane's range also includes a long-sleeve, zip-neck variants, long johns, and two women's-specific tops.
- Primino fabric (50% merino / 25% PrimaLoft / 25% polyester)
- Close fit tee with crew neck
- Flat-locked seams throughout with seam-free shoulder tops and sides
- Heat transfer label
We love merino wool for everyday and low-intensity use for its comfort and odour resistance, but hammer it hard and two things happen: it gets sodden and takes an age to dry out and, eventually, it wears through at abrasion points. The idea of Primino - and similar fabrics like Rab's MeCo - is that by mixing merino with synthetic fibres, it combines the strong points of wool, but adds synthetic-like wicking and drying performance and is also more durable.
The first thing you notice with Primino is that it feels soft, slightly softer than MeCo we reckon, and very comfortable against the skin. The 140g weight is a sort of happy medium, Montane reckons it's about right for 'active winter use in cold conditions' and that seems about right.
The cut is neat and close, which is more efficient and it has non-chafing flat-locked seams throughout plus the shoulder tops and side of the torso are seam free. Finally, the 'label' at the neck is a non-scratchy heat transfer though the care label on the side seam is conventional but mercifully soft and non-irritating.
So what's it like? Pretty decent so far we'd say. It has that soft, instant comfort thing that good merino wool does really well in cool conditions, but a couple of hard, fast bike outings suggest that it wicks and dries significantly better thanks to the 50% synthetic fibre content.
It's still not as good as a pure synthetic for wicking we think. A post-outing sweat-check showed it was mostly dry but where perspiration had pooled under a light hydration pack and on the chest, it was pretty well soaked out. Interestingly the wetness was quite localised rather than having spread across the fabric more widely. It also took a fair while to dry out once hung up, again we'd say better than merino, but slower than a pure synthetic.
We used it again next day without washing - the Primino that is, not us - and had no stink issues, which was something of a relief. It seems to have washed just fine as well.
So far we're pretty impressed with Primino, like Rab's MeCo, it's a nice balance between the positive qualities of merino wool and the faster wicking and drying of pure synthetics like polyester and polypropylene.
Which is to say that it's super comfortable against the skin and seems, so far, to have resisted odour well, but wicks and dries noticeably quicker than merino.
We reckon it's going to be ideal for general hill walking and mountaineering use in cooler conditions, though we'd still choose a synthetic for hardcore running or biking where you're likely to be really pumping out the perspiration, unless you run quite cool.
The price, as with quality merino, is relatively steep, but hopefully - and we'll cover this in a full review - the odour resistance will allow several wears without washing, which is ideal for big trips, multi-day treks and the terminally lazy.
Full details of the Montane range at www.montane.co.uk