I have been a champion of merino for many years now. As someone who has suffered hypothermia in races, and is generally always on the chilly side, I learned the benefits of merino wool when I worked in an outdoor gear shop and haven’t look back since.
Being a natural fabric, its ability to keep you warm even when wet has always been an important factor for me. It is also excellent at regulating your temperature, is less smelly, and can be worn for a few days in a row with its natural antibacterial properties. Useful for those multi day events or wild camping.
So when we were asked to test a new merino brand Artilect, with their Nuyarn fabric, I was excited to see how they lived up to their claims.
- Superior bluesign® approved 125GSM Nuyarn merino fabric technology offers extra loft for an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, 5x faster drying, and remarkable longterm durability
- Superfine 18 micron non-mulsed Australian merino Wool for maximum softness and wearability
- Incredible stretch and recovery
- Slim Tech Fit for maximum movement
- Engineered seam and eyelet placements for increased
- mobility and breathability
- No-chafe flatlock seams
- Gusseted Underarms
- Machine Washable
- Hang-Dry Loop
- £85 from Artilect
When you receive your package you can see that you have a quality item that has an ecological conscience. The packaging is all recyclable and merino wool is itself 100% renewable and Biodegradable. They even suggest ways to reuse the box. An excellent start.
The pedigree of Artilect reads like the outdoors equivalent of a champion racehorse, with many generations of outdoors experience and products being channelled into this brand. The whole brand feels professional and they have ambitions to provide a six layer, whole body, outdoor clothing system for athletes. The foundations of this ambition are the baselayer and “nextlayer” which are now for sale.
Which brings us to the item I tested. I was sent the Women’s Goldhill 125 Zoned Crew in Sea Spray/Ash. This is the first layer, or A/Sys-1 in the Apparel System.
Equally, those long sleeves really give you plenty of room to pull them down over your hands and use the thumb loop, without feeling like you are garroting your thumb and having the sleeves over your wrists, under you gloves, really keeps you toasty.
But is it warmer? Yes I think it is. The New Zealand designed Nuyarn fabric does sound interesting and the explanation of how it works makes sense to me.
“Our journey led us to Nuyarn®, an innovative merino engineering company who are pushing the limits of what fabrics can do. More than merino? We all know merino wool’s natural properties. Its multi-climate abilities, breathability, moisture absorption and odour reduction are well known, but traditional processes of spinning and tightly twisting the fibers inhibits the full power of its natural benefits. Traditional merino fabrics are prone to forming holes. Losing shape. Becoming heavy when wet and being significantly slower to dry than synthetic performance fabrics. Nuyarn technology is different. Unlike traditional core spun or ring spun methods, the patented twist free process of Nuyarn drafts merino fibers along a high-performance filament which amplifies the fiber’s natural properties. With the benefit of merino wool next to skin and synthetic on the inside, the performance of Nuyarn fabrics is unparalleled by any other fabric, natural or synthetic.”
Technological lesson aside, my concern is whether it works and I think it definitely does. In December I was supposed to run The Cheviot Goat, a 55 mile winter ultra race. Sadly it was cancelled due to Storm Arwen causing huge devastation the week before, but the decision wasn’t made until I was already on the road. Having arrived and paid for my accommodation, I went out the next day anyway for a 20 mile romp around the Cheviot Hills.
I’d never been before and by all accounts the weather is even more unpredictable there than is in the rest of the country and true to form I started out in sunshine in the morning and by lunchtime was wading through a nasty combination of deep snow drifts and bog while it snowed heavily.
I wore the Artilect base-layer, a light wind proof mid-layer, and my own leggings underneath waterproof trousers and coat, along with hat, buffs and gloves. Apart from taking the coat off as I climbed the first hill, and putting it back on just before I reached the top, I didn’t have to make any further adjustments to what I was wearing for the rest of the run.
This is quite remarkable, for me in any case. 6.5 hours of running, climbing, wading, hopping up hill and down. My speed was constantly fluctuating between spider crawling along a fence to avoid the worst of the bog, to running downhill freely. This would normally cause fluctuations in my temperature as my effort levels rose and fell. But it didn’t. I was comfortable throughout and for me to not need to put another midlayer or down jacket on when the going was slow was really surprising.
On sustainability they say:
“ARTILECT is built to last, because making fewer things that last longer is the ultimate sustainability platform. At ARTILECT, our driving purpose is to deliver an unmatched performance experience, as well as create the least amount of impact on the world we love to play in. We believe that performance and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, and through innovation and technology, both can not only coexist, but actually complement each other.”
“Merino wool is 100% renewable and biodegradable, and also uses significantly less energy and water in its production. Compared to synthetic options, natural merino wool also includes the added benefit of being free of the microplastics that have become an increasing threat to the health of our planet and its oceans.”
There’s no doubt that having the best quality clothing (or anything for that matter) that will last long term is better for the environment. That merino wool is renewable and biodegrable is great too. Their products are made in Vietnam however. I made enquiries through the website about this; both in their live chat service and via their contact form. I have yet to hear back from them.
I’ve had the top now for several weeks and it’s gone through the wash loads of times already. There has been no sagging or stretching so far. The colour selections for women are nice; muted tones or colourful brights, without being overly girly.
Price wise the Artilect tops are competitive with similar merino brands full retail price. The equivalent in another brand is £75 and my merino top of choice is a slightly heavier 200gsm half zip hoodie which retails at £105.00. The Artilect top is lighter at 125gsm and more breathable, yet I would say just as warm as the 200gsm.
Cons? I would like to see a hoody version (it’s so handy to be able to throw a hood up if it’s chilly) and it’s a shame no one got back to me about their production.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this base layer and I will be really interested to see what other lines are produced in the Apparel System.
Have you tried the Artilect Women’s Goldhill 125 Zoned Merino Crew ? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment below this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
Not a member yet? Sign up here to be part of the RunUltra community and share tips and stories with thousands of fellow runners around the world.
We are a professional review site and our reviewers receive free products for testing from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are by the reviewer’s name shown
About the author: Kate Allen is Editor of RunUltra and in her spare time can be found running and racing with her dog Mac around the hills of the Peak and Lake District.