This is going to be less of a gear review than a material review, because the actual product in question is less important than what it’s made of. The product is a Merino Toque from G3, a company better known for its skis and splitboards, but I’m going to use it as a way to gripe about certain uses of merino wool.
No one is going to argue that merino isn’t super comfortable. As far as that goes, it’s absolutely one of my favorite fabrics, but that doesn’t mean you should make a ski hat (not sure why G3 calls it a toque, which is a fancy chef’s hat) out of 100 percent merino wool.
Why? Because nothing shrinks like merino, meaning that anything made out of merino basically has to be dry cleaned if it’s ever going to get cleaned. Who the hell is going to dry clean a hat?
I was given the hat to test and, of course, loved it when I put it on my head. But then I made the mistake of going cross-country skiing while wearing the hat, and, as I am wont to do, I sweated quite a bit from my brow – sweat that was absorbed by the hat, rendering it gross. Even worse, the sweat itself was enough to shrink the hat a little.
So then I was faced with a dilemma: wash the hat without putting it in the dryer, or essentially never wear it again. Easy choice, right? I threw it in the washer with a load of laundry and ran it through. Bad idea.
The hat came out of the washing machine so small I could barely squeeze it down over my head. I tried my best to stretch it out and eventually succeeded in pulling the wool, literally, over my eyes, but when the hat dried out it remained tiny, the shape it’s currently in.
So now I’m faced with another dilemma: Do I give the hat, now that it’s clean, to a kids thrift store, or do I try to salvage it? It might seem unsalvageable, but I actually managed to save a shrunken wool sweater once by soaking it in water and conditioner (look up the technique on the internet). It might be tougher with something as small as a hat, but I think I’m going to give it a try.
Should I save it, I will have learned my lesson, and I will never again use the hat for any activity that might cause me to sweat. If you’re willing to accept those terms, too, this is, as I said, a really comfortable hat. Your noggin will appreciate it. But if you’re going to sweat in it, plan on dry cleaning a hat, as ridiculous as that might sound.