This shirt was provided by Western Rise for review purposes.
Western Rise is one of the many new-ish entries to the technical clothing market, introducing many of their products through Kickstarter. We have reviewed their The Evolution Pant (our review), and they recently sent us their StrongCore Merino Tee. It should be noted that this is the second version of this shirt (the first version had a pocket), made in their new LA factory.
We had inquired about the DryWeight Merino Tee, as we were looking for more tees for hot weather (to compare with the Outlier Dreamweight and Ramielust). However, they informed us that they were discontinuing that shirt.
The fabric of this shirt is 89% 17.5 micron merino/11% nylon. The finer merino used here makes the fabric very soft and never scratchy, however, it is not the softest on the market (that title goes to the Outlier tees).
Coming in at 170 gsm, the weight of the fabric gives it a nice drape. The only indication that if isn’t brand new after numerous wears and a few washes is that light “fuzzing” most merino exhibits. This is a good sign for the long term durability of the shirt.
I was on the borderline between L and XL in the Western Rise size chart. I chose an XL and am glad I did. The shirt shrunk a little when I washed it the first time (cold, air dry) and it fits me well, but would probably have been a little tighter than I like after a wash if I had picked L.
Overall, the fit seems on-par with other merino tees I own, and I would probably compare it most closely to the Outlier XL cut.
Comfort and Performance
I’ve been wearing this shirt for a few weeks now and it performs as expected for a core spun merino blend shirt. It has all the odor resistance of a 100% merino shirt with the extra durability of nylon.
The weight of the fabric makes it a good all-around tee, but it is probably not the best pick for the warmest weather, as midweight merino tends to soak up sweat and get heavy (this is where ultralight merino or synthetics shine).
The v-cuts at the bottom on both sides of the hem are supposed add some performance by breaking the “fabric tube”, but I didn’t find any benefit other than adding a little different look to the shirt. Maybe if you wear your tees more snugly across the waist/hips, this would make a difference.
Overall, the Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee is a worthy contender, but with the sheer number of good merino tees out there now, I don’t think it rises to the top.
At a lower price point, this tee might rank better, but for $96, it wouldn’t be my top pick. To me, the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt (our review), which can be had for $55, and is a merino blend with a great balance of price and performance. I’d also throw the Wool & Prince Crew Neck ($68) and the Outlier Runweight ($88) in this price range as competition.
The merino t-shirt market certainly is putting out some tough competition right now. If the v-cuts on this tee make a difference for you, this is definitely a shirt to check out.