Ever wanted a smart shirt that behaves like a technical layer, performing everywhere from meetings to mountains and date nights to days travelling? It is rare to find stylish versatile technical clothing, which is why I was keen on this Hardvark merino shirt review.
Hardvark grew from a passion for the outdoors and a desire to have clothing that performs everywhere from pub to piste. Hardvark knew that Merino wool would be the ideal material to deal with the outdoors, but the challenge was making it into a stylish garment that would last.
Merino has long been the base layer material of choice for its temperature regulating and wicking abilities. It is breathable, does not hold odour, stretches, feels warm and is wrinkle free. All great qualities in any shirt.
Performance was never in doubt, but making making merino look and feel like a cotton shirt was not easy. Ensuring it lasts was another challenge – for example merino base layers often go bobbly fairly quickly.
So Hardvark spent two years developing a the right material, which is 73% Merino Wool, 25% Viscose and 2% Elastane. The result is a 17.5 Micron lightweight stretch merino that they call Tailored Performance®.
From this that have created a range of stylish versatile technical clothing that perform like baselayers, whilst looking and feeling like cotton. Coming in black, plaid (lumber jack style!) and blue checked, in theory they should be ideal shirt for both outdoor pursuits and general wear.
Hardvark merino shirt review
I have two Hardvark merino shirts. One is a checked in the lumberjack style that is popular in the world of action sports. The other is black and looks very smart – it could be worn with a suit.
I have worn them both at least 15 times each (although never with a suit!). They have been worn snowboarding, at a 40th birthday party, hiking, out to dinner, on Christmas day and even in bed (I was drunk and it was cold!). They have been my go to travel wear to and from the mountains via coach, bus, plane, train and automobile.
The care instructions recommend that you dry on a hanger – if you follow this there is no need to iron. If you dry it screwed up expect creases, but once dry you can roll the hardvark into a ball and it comes out crease free. Perfect for travelling.
Hardvark merino shirt review: Fit and comfort
In terms of comfort it feels very similar to other merino garments I have. So against the skin it is soft, although not quite as soft as top quality cotton. I find all merino garments feel like they will be itchy, but they never are, it was no different during this Hardvark merino shirt review.
The fit is nicely tailored with athletic people in mind. Having worn the black one on Christmas day I found it covered the excesses well, making my bloated belly look slimmer than it had any right to be.
I have a wide neck – size 17 – so just like most shirts I could not do up the top button of the Hardvark merino shirt. In every day life this is not a problem, but when snowboarding I found there was sometimes a slight draft around the neck that a normal baselayer would avoid. Update: Hardvark have told me the next batch will have wider necks.
Hardvark merino shirt review: General wear
In around 30 days of wear the Hardvark shirts have never started to smell. In fact I have only felt the need to put them in the wash when I have spilt stuff down them. When travelling I normally smell sweaty by the time I clear security at the airport, but there was never an underarm stink wearing a Hardvark.
They have also kept me warm in cold situations, including worn outside without a jacket during the UK winter. But also the breathable properties meant I have been kept relatively cool when things got hot – with sleeves rolled up they are cooler than wearing a t-shirt.
I have worn the smart black merino shirt out to dinner with my wife, to a 40th birthday party and even a New Years Eve celebration. The black Hardvark has drawn many compliments – particularly as it’s a touch smarter than what I normally wear – ultimately being stylish versatile technical clothing.
Hardvark merino shirt review: Activewear
When snowboarding I tend to go off-piste, often hiking for my lines and always work up a sweat. But the wicking properties of the Hardvark merino shirt kept me nice and dry. Then at the end of a day on the slopes I had a good look for the apres and didn’t smell.
During this Hardvark merino shirt review I found that when snowboarding wearing a technical midlayer and a shell jacket, the shirt collar was a bit annoying. There were just too many things around my neck when I needed to have all the layers done up to the top.
I have friends that always snowboard in a shirt, so this may just be personal preference or my large neck getting in the way. There was a plus side to this problem, when worn as a baselayer the collar stopped the avalanche beacon strap from sitting against my neck, which in the past I have found uncomfortable.
One other thing to note is that the first time I wore the shirt snowboarding the top of the collar rubbed the skin around my neck. This never happened again, so I put it down to a stiff collar prior to the shirts first wash.
Conclusion: Stylish versatile technical clothing
During this Hardvark merino shirt review I found it to be a very good as a base or a midlayer. But I was not a huge fan of having a collar under my jacket so it will not be by first choice when snowboarding. But I know plenty of skiers and snowboarders who always wear shirts, who’d love the Hardvark.
Despite it not being my base or midlayer of first choice, a Hardvark merino shirt will come with me on all outdoor activity trips. This is because it is a versatile extra layer that does a great job and can be worn a plenty of times without smelling.
Although it’s good for all outdoor activities, being completely honest where it really excels is being worn as a shirt in everyday life. It looks good. Makes it feel warmer when it’s cold, and cooler when it’s warm. It does not smell or need to be washed that often. And it does not wrinkle. Sounds like the the perfect shirt?
To conclude this Hardvark merino shirt review, I’d say they are the best shirts I own, purely because I can get the benefits of a technical garment while still looking good. In short the Hardvark shirt is stylish versatile technical clothing that delivers, and anyone from a backpacker to a business man would get good wear from one.
We hope you found this Hardvark merino shirt review useful. If you’d like to get your hands on this stylish versatile technical clothing it costs £139 and can be bought here: www.hardvark.co