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Wimpy Merino Shirts, Or Is It Just Me

Flig

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primativo (2021)
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
 
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TMcA

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
Maybe marino wool cannot hold up to abrasion?

I have worn Smartwool tee shirts on my last four Caminos, the longest of which was just over two weeks. Carried a 20lb pack on the first of these, then just lighter day packs. No problem with excessive wear by pack straps. The shirts, I carry three which I rotate, were comfortable and have lasted.

REI and Patagonia will probably replace or give you a credit...so you can try again. :) ;)
 

Flig

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primativo (2021)
Thanks TMcA, I’ll take the last casualty back and get the refund. I am concerned because I bought two separate brands just in case one had didn't work out. Red flags went up when the exact same thing happened to both of them. Trying to figure out what my plan of action will be going forward. Do I just make sure I wear an more rugged top over the smart wool / marino shirts, ditch them and go “technical“, or just mark it up to bad luck and carry on.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Merino.
Best on the inside of layers of clothing, not on the outside. My one merino top has runs like the kind stockings get. It's warm, breathable, and wonderful in most ways — but it's not tough. In spite of that, though, IMO it's still vastly preferable to technical clothing. For starters, it doesn't shed microplastic like synthetics:
Less widely known as a source of microplastic is the breakdown of synthetic fabrics, which forms tiny plastic fibres. Reports now indicate that these are the most common form of microplastic recovered from sediment and water samples. And the vast majority of these are produced during domestic clothes washing.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I wear my merino in summer with my pack... Icebreaker 120 thread t-shirts, the lightest version they make. I would guess that most have a few hundred km with pack on them now, and I also wear them as my everyday shirts.
In winter trekking I always have a merino tank top, then a 150 to 220 mid layer, then my merinoloft quilted jacket, then my down packable that I put on and take off as needed. The merinoloft jacket has some synthetic windbreak shell where the pack sits, so it wont9t be abraded there anyway, but I’ve just not had these problems.
Wondering if there is something really rigid about your pack where it meets the body.
 
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I wore tech fabrics on my first 2 caminos. Merino only at night.
Last Camino, Marino all the way. Totally sold on them. (Icebreaker)

But...........they are not hard wearing. I had to mend a couple of holes along the way.

I think a couple of things might impact wear and tear.

  1. The weight of the fabric. I wear the ultralite 120 gm weight. (for whatever weather) I have some 270 gm weight I use in winter at home and they are of course more durable.
  2. The fabric 'mix'. A lot of Icebreaker gear for example is no longer 100% marino. They are blends. probably to increase durability.
  3. Your pack 'type'. I use a pack that 'stands off' from my back. ( Osprey Airspeed Suspension ) Only touches at the shoulder and waist belt. Very common these days. That would reduce abrasion on the back at least. Funnily enough, the holes I got (that looked like moth holes) were at the front. Might be strap wear?
 
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jozero

Been there, going again...
Year of past OR future Camino
CF x 3
I’ve had good success with icebreaker underwear, base layers (tops and bottoms) and ‘fashion’ t-shirts over years of use. The pure wool pieces are really comfortable and live up to the hype of being able to control odour... Their socks on the other hand, well, the only good thing was they have a lifetime guarantee. When I returned them after less than 2 weeks the guy at the store said he has seen this before...
 

Anhalter

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
I had a talk about it with my sister which runs a shop specialised in higher end natural fabrics (mostly silk). She is no certified expert but kinda knows a lot about materials.

tl;dr: Merino is not very abrasion resistant, so if you want to use it for hiking, use something mixed with another fabric.

For my camino i used 2 T-Shirts from Ortovox which contain "52 % virgin wool (MERINO) + 33 % lyocell (Tencel™) + 15 % polyamide " and 1 Longsleeve from Decathlon which is "70% Wool, 30% Acrylic". All 3 items held up extremely well and are still being used (i'd say i got a good 1500km use between the 3 items so far)
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
I've been using mainly Icebreaker T-shirts for years now, both for walking and at home, and I love them. The thinner ones are blended with tencel now and are much more durable than pure merino. I normally carry an Osprey Talon/Tempest, with the mesh covered back. Yes, it rubs and yes, the T-shirts tend to bobble a little on the back after a few hundred kms, but nothing as serious as holes after one walk. I do tend to find tiny moth-type holes on the front though, where I guess it can get caught in the waist belt clip or something. Sounds like your pack is very grating - is it new, or has it done this to cotton too, or tech tops, before?
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
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Le Puy 2018;
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Their socks on the other hand, well, the only good thing was they have a lifetime guarantee. When I returned them after less than 2 weeks the guy at the store said he has seen this before...
I was getting ready to say this same thing about my Smartwool socks. I love them, however they do not hold up well with a lot of use and I am a small person so no unusual pressure on the bottoms of my feet. I usually walk in the spring, but for my one summer Camino I purchased a thin pair of Smartwool socks and they wore out in training before I went...very disappointing. I use technical wicking fabrics and been very happy. My skin is very sensitive to wool (itchiness, even of Merino) and I have no odor problems cuz I smell like a rose anyway.😅
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017), LePuy(2019)
I have worn merino wool long sleeve shirts on the camino since 2015, and what I have often discovered- regardless of brand = are the sudden appearance of small holes usually right in front where mending can't be hidden. I have yet to figure out if these holes are the result of abrasion, tears, moths, or material defect. The shirts are too expensive to discard, so I use them as a base under another - different material- shirt for cool weather. Ironically, my merino socks have held up very well!
 

Anik2001

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: Camino Frances (2017), future: Frances again (2020)well hopefully 2021...
I wore my Icebreaker t-shirts (I had 2) from SJPP to Fisterra. They were a couple of years used already, and they still look brand new. My pack is an Osprey Kyte with the mesh back. Icebreaker might be a little on the expensive side, but I wait for the sales and it is worth every penny. I walked in 2017 and still wear those t-shirts.
 

Roland49

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
TL/DR - marino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear marino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Marino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand marino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my marino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
Oh yes. Cheap Merino do not last long. I "killed" 2 cheap (€20 each) Merino shortsleeves on my CF in 2019.
After several washings by hand they too offers more ventilation.

Cheap Merino is short-woven, so the wool itself contains more short hair than better quality Merino.
I ordered last week two Merino shortsleeves for my CP next year, both from big brands on sale. Each shirt is 38€, ~$45. Non-sale price was 60€ each.

If your new Merino suffers holes by the pack, check the padding of your pack. Maybe you find some uncommon rough parts. If your pack is rubbing on your back, the pack is not fitted well. Check fitting of a backpack. There are some guidelines on the web how to fit a backpack.

BC
Roland
 
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nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
what I have often discovered- regardless of brand = are the sudden appearance of small holes usually right in front
I have exactly the same experience. My theory is that it can be the sturdy thread stitching the strap clips to the belt - the ends are often burnt to stop the thread from fraying, which makes them hard and sharp. Not enough to notice on your skin through the top, but on a knitted material all it takes is one tiny broken thread to make a hole. Might be worth checking.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
My wife and I have walked three CF since 2015 and swear by Icebreaker. Shirts, socks, gloves, fleece jacket, etc. A few of the shirts have made all three CFs and don't show any wear.

I do have one with small holes, but that was my fault. Someone suggested using safety pins to attach wet shirts to a laundry line. The wind caused them to flap on the line, thus I have a few small holes. Another one is stained, but as others said, Icebreaker is so comfortable, I use it as an underlayer. I have purchased almost all our Icebreaker on "Sierra Trading Post" and routinely get good bargains. Bob
 

evanscl

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Oct 2016
TL/DR - marino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear marino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Marino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand marino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my marino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
As C Clearly says, a mix with polyester is good. I wore my Rohan merino\ polyester hoody nearly everyday on the vf with a 12kg pack - no wear shown.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Year of past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
A good buy is sticking to HH Merino products when they are mixed 50/50 w polypropylene fiber...

I also have a good Icebreaker Quantum vest that I use on top of a short sleeve tee shirt, or tank top, when I walk.
On the lower back I had worn 4 nice little abrasion holes. Took my worn merino / poly shirt that had been ditched and cut out a good square to cover the section where the lower back meets the rucksack.

I find the merino distributes the moisture better than any other material, in hot or cold...
when it is too hot for long sleeves, the vest cools the arms but preserves the upper body core by not being chilled by too much sweating..
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
Ooh. Safety pins and merino.

I get tabs sewn into the hems of my merino base layers that way the tabs can be threaded onto caribiners or pegs for drying.

Tiny bit of bias binding does the job for pennies (or cents).

Ex military (modern) base layers are great AND cheap. I'm moving away from Merino due to cost.
 
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SacredSteps

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Plenty of good comments here. I will briefly add:

I've had great luck with ultralight/lightweight merino shirts (less than 180 thread) worn in direct contact with the backpack. Several have been used fairly heavily for years. The better brands for me seem to be WOOLLY and WOOLX. The premiere brand names have not worn well for me. YMMV.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
Do you folks wear marino shirts in direct contact with your pack?
Yes - since February 2012 and no issues. My merino tops are lighter weights

For three years I used "kidney basher" type packs.. Since 2015 I have used a zPack pack with a trampoline back. This is in contact with my top throughout the trip.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances April 2016
Portugese from Lisbon 2018
Via Francigena (2020)
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
Have 2 Icebreaker t shirts. They have walked Lisbon to Sdc and SJJP to Sdc. They will both come on Norte when we are allowed.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@Flig, hi again.

I was away from my Camino "office" when I replied above (#23).

I have now checked out my collection of merino tops for holes and anything else that might be relevant.

Of the seven to hand:
a) none have holes
b) two are so old they have the now not-used tag showing which grower gave up the wool
c) three (including the two above) have been washed so often I could not read the care or composition
d) four, including two purchased earlier this year, had readable care and composition tags
e) from those four I learned the composition was either 87% wool or 50% wool

From this I wonder whether the care instructions have been followed - cold/warm water - no drycleaning.

And from the replies above I understand bad experiences with merino tops are so very infrequent.

So, @Flig is encourage you: kia kaha, kia mā'ia, kia mana'wa'nui (be strong, confident and patient)
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Over the years I have bought a selection of long sleeve very lightweight merino t shirts from Aldi. The quality is very variable. If the knit is loose (ie the fabric is extremely stretchy) they don't last, but I have three that are a tighter knit and seem to go on forever. With those I've not had any problem with pack wear.

The most comfortable fabric I've ever worn is a mix of 60% silk, 40% merino and 10% cotton. Love the feeling and it's good for any weather. It is not flattering though because the solid colour shows every mark and every bit of sweat!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Mine seem to last quite well. A friend of mine buys the same shirts as mine and gets holes in contact spots on her back. I examined her backpack and found a very tiny snag (a bit of hard resined thread poking out) in one location, which clearly was the culprit. The other spot I think is contact against velcro.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2018)
I rotated between two pairs of men's REI merino sock liners (used by themselves, not as liners under other socks) inside my Salomon trailrunners through the entire CF in Sept/Oct 2018 (and had no blisters). By the time I got to Santiago, the toes had worn little holes, which I darned carefully with thread. I still wear them a lot. The heel areas are now getting a bit thin, but no holes. If you like thin socks and your shoes fit really well, these are ideal.
 

Wis3Pilgrim

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portuguese (Ponte de Lima-SdC, May 2018), Coastal Portuguese (2019)
I had this issue with several merino shirts and started to wear a lightweight vest on top of the shirts that prevents the pack from being in direct contact with the shirt. Solved the problem.

I like the Arc'teryx Atom SL vest. It's lightweight, flattering, breathable, durable, and has pockets, which are always useful when hiking. It's a bit pricey (though sales can be found from time to time), but seeing that it lengthens the life of many of my tops, I thought it was worth it.


A less expensive alternative (though not as lightweight) is the Columbia Mix It Around vest. Got one recently and quite like it too.

 

towanda1961

Laura
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances and Invierno (2015)
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
I wore a lightweight Icebreaker shirt for 42 days straight, with my pack, and it still looks like new. Check out Icebreaker wool clothing; it costs more, but lasts seemingly forever.
 
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Gregory Graf

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 2017
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
Thanks for the insight regarding your shirt. I considered trying Merino on my next pilgrimage. On my first Camino, I used bamboo shirts. They wore well and were comfortable and are anti-macrobial. I prefer natural fibers but cotton is a big mistake on the Camino as it retains sweat and will smell. The only downside to the bamboo is that it will look a bit tired after the numerous hand washes compared to synthetic. Just a suggestion.
 

MartaM

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portugués costal (Sept. 2020)
5 or so years ago Costco sold women’s’ long sleeve v-neck 100% merino shirts labeled “Segments” for $16. They are my daily go from November to March for everything from hiking to casual ‘dressed‘ up and only 1 of the 5 I own has a small hole. The second season model had a rounded hem that doesn’t lay quite flat... but for the price of one of the big name brands I’ve got a whole week‘s worth. I always check anytime in in a Costco, hoping they’ll come back!
 

mdelag

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
**CAMINO FRANCES: LEON-SANTIAGO sept. (2015)
**CAMINO FRANCES SJPP-SANTIAGO (2019)
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
I walked from st jean to Santiago with smartwool and merino, and they are in pretty good shape. May be it has to do with the “base layer” or “top layer” mark. Base layers may not work good directly rubbing the backpack.
 

bill Burgess

New Member
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
Have you tried other materials to see if the pack is wearing them down as well?
 
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CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I mend my merino too, @Kiwi-family, but my mending is not quite so charming, I'm afraid. I also darn socks, but I don't take the mended ones on hikes because they are a blister risk. However, when I've finally worn out my merino socks, I mend them for ordinary use.

One of these days... and in some ways I think it's here already, the merino label won't mean much -- same as cashmere. I had a sweater of my father's that my mother bought for him in 1965... I wore it until the mid 2000's and the grosgrain ribbon platen behind the buttons was shredded, the elbows completely gone. But that sweater did not have a single pill on it. Mum had spend $200 CAD on it in 1965!!!! A veritable fortune!

Now there is cheap cashmere all over the place. Pills up, doesn't last, not even worth the cheap price. The weavers use short fibres now and I think that is happening in merino weaving more and more... plus the addition of synthetics (that stink)...

So I keep mending my old things, and I hang on to my cashmere/silk pashmina that I bought in 2001, even as the glass beads fall off the hassled ends, noting that it seems as strong as kevlar and remains miraculously soft.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Till some years ago I was a big fan of Icebreaker but I now stick to Woolpower.
European brand so also more ecofriendly for me in Europe than buying Icebreaker.
Plus Woolpower is 80 % merino and 20 % polyamide.
From washing machine into tumbledryer.


Regarding sweat : I'm in that agegroup where I sweat in in every piece of clothing and in every circumstance. Ha. Too much information.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Merino is indeed mendable! I snagged a nail on this (Icebreaker) dress and it opened a hole. Very visible, very obvious. I used a piece of pantyhose for the back of the repair and did baseball stitch. Of course this showed a lot. I used wool yarn (crewel type) to embroider a flower on over the repair. Used Sulky Sticky Solvy to both stabilize and transfer the flower pattern. Then soaked the Sulky stuff off after. It worked fine. Even though now there is a yellow flower on the bust. :)
 

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chinacat

Veteran Member
I also darn socks, but I don't take the mended ones on hikes because they are a blister risk.

I have a very old pair of organic chunky wool socks that are now more darning wool than original! (I use my grandmother’s ancient darning ‘mushroom’.)
They’re still great in my old sheepskin boots when it’s really cold 😉

... and my 15 year-old merino jumper has been through the wash dozens of times and there’s not a single pill on it anywhere.
It always brings a ‘hmm‘ to mind when I read, for instance, ‘some pilling is to be expected with a high-quality (!) merino wool garment’ ...

Edit: Alpkit merino is stronger, cheaper and better designed for fit than Icebreaker .. imho
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I have a very old pair of organic chunky wool socks that are now more darning wool than original! (I use my grandmother’s ancient darning ‘mushroom’.)
They’re still great in my old sheepskin boots when it’s really cold 😉

... and my 15 year-old merino jumper has been through the wash dozens of times and there’s not a single pill on it anywhere.
It always brings a ‘hmm‘ to mind when I read, for instance, ‘some pilling is to be expected with a high-quality (!) merino wool garment’ ...

Edit: Alpkit merino is stronger, cheaper and better designed for fit than Icebreaker .. imho

Heh... what a fine tool to have. I use a lightbulb. :D
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF- Finisterre-Muxia 03/17; Camino SK 10/17; Norte 03/18; Ingles 11/18; Augusta 03/19
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
I only wear a long sleeve 150 gm merino wool top (layered with 2 short sleeve bamboo tops as needed) under my rain or puff jackets and I just threw mine out after probably 4000 km in it with a pack. I buy mine at the Canadian store MEC and just got a replacement for CAD $47. I’d return it.
 
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Over the years I have bought a selection of long sleeve very lightweight merino t shirts from Aldi. The quality is very variable. If the knit is loose (ie the fabric is extremely stretchy) they don't last, but I have three that are a tighter knit and seem to go on forever. With those I've not had any problem with pack wear.

The most comfortable fabric I've ever worn is a mix of 60% silk, 40% merino and 10% cotton. Love the feeling and it's good for any weather. It is not flattering though because the solid colour shows every mark and every bit of sweat!
silk with any wool is a marvelous mix
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
The mushroom and light bulb got me reminiscing.
In my part of the world, North Northumberland, a lot of us wore hand knit thick woolen stockings in the winter. Due to the rubbish wellingtons we wore they frequently had holes at the toes or heels which were darned on a regular basis.
The thing is, we called the holes tateys, due to the fact that most mothers just used a tatey (potato) as the darning former. Those who could afford darning mushrooms would not have had their kids in wellingtons or wearing thick woolen stockings.

Our classroom had wood burning stoves and the stockings were hung up on the fireguard to dry out during class time if wet.
Ah the good old days, good only because we were young.
 
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lisaflora

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte, Jul 2021
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
Good question, I just started using wool, will be interested to hear others' experiences. Love the wool underwear :)
 

Pilgrim9

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
If I may offer some opinions ...

Wool can be an outstandingly-good choice for garments to be worn in the outdoors because it retains its insulating characteristic even when wet.

Soft, very fine grades of wool such as e.g. Merino are more comfortable against the skin, but less abrasion resistant than coarser grades.

Coarser wools have larger diameter fibres that are stronger, stiffer, springier, and more abrasion resistant. However, they are itchier, and therefore their use should be restricted to outerwear, carpets, etc., where their toughness, abrasion resistance, and springiness are advantageous and they will not be in direct contact with the skin.

Felting & shrinkage:

Wool fibres are covered in tiny ratchet-like scales, as are human hairs. When moisture, warmth, and repeated frictional movements are present, and unless the wool fibres' scales have somehow been smoothed or deactivated by a shrink-proofing process, the fibres gradually ratchet past one another and become tangled. This permanently increases the density of the fabric and reduces its dimensions; i.e. it creates a shrunken felt.

Moisture, warmth, and repeated frictional movements are all present during machine washing, tumble drying, and to a lesser degree during hand washing. This is why special care must be taken when washing and drying wool garments that have not been shrink-proofed.

Moisture, warmth, and repeated frictional movements also tend to be present between some backpacks and one's own back when walking: the moisture comes from perspiration or rain, the warmth from exertion, and the repeated frictional movements arise as the backpack shifts back and forth across one's back, slightly but incessantly, with every step taken.

In my opinion, that incessant moist warm pulsing friction between some backpacks and one's own back should be considered to be a "severe use" situation for wool garments. In my experience this is especially true of some internal frame packs, which have no provision to hold the pack at a distance from one's back. (I have ruined several shirts using internal frame backpacks and eventually switched to an external frame pack for that and other reasons.)

I suspect that the wearing of any backpack for long distances is a special case that is not typically considered by most designers of fine wool garments. Garment designers: please correct me if I am in error.

I love wool, especially Merino wool. However, due to the risk of abrasion damage, I did not use any wool garments on any of my pilgrimages.

If someone can point me to wool garments that are both comfortable against the skin and reliably able to withstand severe-abrasion usage, please do so as I would like to evaluate same.

-

Straying off the topic of comfort VS abrasion resistance ...

Washing wool garments: Machine washing in water usually features a combination of moisture, warmth, and repeated friction, thus setting the stage for wool felting and shrinkage. Unless the garment maker's label clearly and unambiguously states that the wool garment may be machine washed in water, in my opinion it should never be. Gentle hand-washing in warm water is better. DO NOT use sodium-hypochlorite-based bleach because it will ruin the wool. Note that even if the wool has been shrink-proofed, the agitators in top-loading washing machines still tug and rub at the fabric, especially if the machine is overloaded. Conversely, even in cold water, which reduces the risk of felting and shrinkage, "excessive" agitation in an overloaded machine can stretch portions of the fabric or create abrasion marks, damaging the wool garments.

Drying wool garments: Tumble drying of water-wet garments also usually features a combination of moisture, warmth, and repeated friction, once again setting the stage for wool felting and shrinkage. There are additional risks of fibre breakage & attrition caused by simple abrasion, and yellowing of the wool fibres due to heat. Unless the garment maker's label clearly and unambiguously states that the water-wet wool garment may be tumble dried, in my opinion it should never be. Personally I completely avoid tumble drying wool items whenever possible. If and only if the maker states that tumble drying is permissible, and only when there is not sufficient time to dry the garment by laying it flat on a ventilated horizontal surface in dry circulating ambient air, I with reluctance tumble dry but only at the lowest temperature and for the briefest time possible.

Moths: ... eat wool silently, covertly, and more quickly than one might imagine, and to add insult to real injury, they poop into the garments. Wool fibres, unless competently treated at the textile factory with a recognized, proven, permanent anti-moth treatment, are inherently at risk of destruction (lots and lots of holes) by moths. A well-known moth-proofing chemical that I have used many times in industry is non-toxic, safe, and permanently renders the treated wool indigestible to moths. They are not poisoned, but get no nutrition from the wool, and either starve to death or move elsewhere. Purchasers of wool garments should always search the label on the garment or package for evidence that an anti-moth treatment has been accomplished.

You might consider filing the package label evidencing the shrink-proofing and anti-moth treatments with your receipt in case you need to file a warranty claim.

For what it is worth, I am a Certified Textile Engineering Technologist with years of experience in the fine-Merino-wool yarn spinning & dyeing industry, plus needle trade experience.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2018)
I wore a wool-based shirt for my entire Camino. It was a 'blend' (the Cool-LITE line from icebreaker) - so merino and 'plant fibers' (whatever that means) blend. I freaking loved this hoodie. I am so bummed it is no longer available, I would buy a bunch more to have a lifetime supply if I could find it.

I wore this shirt every day of walking on the Camino (36 days) and then during several training hikes/shorter trips after my 2018 Camino (so maybe an additional cumulative 25 days) and then wore it on another 7-week wilderness hike (again, every day). Always worn with a backpack. Partway through the wilderness hike, it started to fail. The shoulders under my pack straps began to be threadbare, and I was able to sunburn in those spots through the shirt, which means it has failed since the whole point for me is sun-proofing. It was toast after that final trip and I have since been on the hunt for my next sun-hoodie.

Hope that is helpful on 'lasting power' for these shirts - I think I got good value with the number of backpacked days in it, but when you tally it up, it isn't a lifetime piece by any means.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Year of past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
If I may offer some opinions ...
For what it is worth, I am a Certified Textile Engineering Technologist with years of experience in the fine-Merino-wool yarn spinning & dyeing industry, plus needle trade experience.
First time around, I read: needle and thread experience....!!
 

Pilgrim9

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
First time around, I read: needle and thread experience....!!

My use of the term "The needle trade" was meant to refer to the business of cutting fabric or other flat material and sewing the cut shapes into assemblies such as e.g. ladies' fashion garments, shirts, gents' fine suits, neckties, underwear, overcoats, safety harnesses, parachutes, backpacks, tents, tarpaulins, draperies, gloves, sails, hot air balloons, etc. It does indeed centre around cutting-to-patterns, needles, threads, and sewing, usually on an industrial scale.

Between 1973 and 1975, one of my job duties included adjusting industrial sewing machines (and knitting machines) in a factory that made underwear and T-shirts.
 
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Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Year of past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I am certain we do not appreeciate all the expertice that goes into what we wear and we have much to thank for by way of how the individual garment is produced.
I am regurarily purchasing merino from a Swedish producer of wool, and they have, at the back label at the neck, the name of the person who produced this piece of cloth...

1609580974691.png
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Cami Sant Jaume (2017)
I bought merino long johns years ago and they did not last. The cotton ones i bought at the same time lasted for years and years. For hiking i wear my regular clothing, my cool weather layers are a cotton shirt, a wool sweater (Brit: jumper) and a raincoat.

As for wool socks, I knit my own with Trekking 500 brand yarn on size US000 needles. These also last for years, and making them is a lightweight pastime for traveling.

Hiking in my local woods with the 4 year old grandchild this year.

This is my first step on the Cami Sant Jaume:
IMG_20170909_133450675.jpg
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
I have now checked out my collection of merino tops for holes and anything else that might be relevant.

Of the seven to hand:
a) none have holes
b) two are so old they have the now not-used tag showing which grower gave up the wool
c) three (including the two above) have been washed so often I could not read the care or composition
d) four, including two purchased earlier this year, had readable care and composition tags
e) from those four I learned the composition was either 87% wool or 50% wool
There were many others who showed similar experiences.

Merino is mendable!
A bit difficult on camino, but ...

However, due to the risk of abrasion damage, I did not use any wool garments on any of my pilgrimages.

"It's a hard job finding the perfect ... " from a TV add for Speights Southern Beer c 2006

@Pilgrim9, I wonder if your real extensive "years of experience ..." have given you a bias.

My early experiences were with cotton tops and jerseys for evening wear when tramping. I quickly learnt not to wash en marche, even if stuff did smell.

More recently I tried "technical" materials (aka microfibre). These worked as advertised - keep you warn and dry quickly. I like the dry quickly bit. For me the keep you warm was very unhelpful. Some people walk "cold" and do not generate much additional body heat. I am with a significant number of those that create quite a bit of bod heat.

On a very cold morning I may start with a short sleeve (merino) top and a long sleeve (merino) top as the outer. And after 15-20 minutes I am removing the long sleeve top.

Most mornings I start with just the short sleeve top. And I have come to this understanding after experimenting, as noted above.

As always, in my experience, it is horses for courses. And experience will dictate what works for you.

So, @Pilgrim9, kia kaha, kia māia, kia mana'wa'nui (be strong, confident and patient) and get going when you can.
 

Pilgrim9

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
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@Pilgrim9, I wonder if your real extensive "years of experience ..." have given you a bias.
...
Me, biased towards wool? Aaaghh! I have been outed, and must be branded on the forehead with The Woolmark (a trademark of The Woolmark Company).

I actually am unashamedly biased towards wool textiles, not only because I grew up in the industry, but also because wool is a renewably-sourced organic fibre created by unthreatening, non-venomous, low-polluting, low-maintenance, self-replicating, weatherproof vegetarian autonomous mobile fibre production units, and, at end-of-life, being of natural origin, wool can easily be composted, leaving no nasty residues. And, from an artistic point of view, can it not be argued that sheep fit into the bucolic hiking landscapes that we all like, much better than do synthetic polymer factories? Moths have many of the same organic qualities as sheep but for some reason I cannot work up much enthusiasm for them.

I agree that different folks will have different needs and wants for garments and will find different fibres or blends more suitable for their uses.

BTW I left the textile industry many decades ago in favour of a more lucrative line of work.

Hoping the world gets back to normal for all of us in 2021 and that we can all hit the trails again soon.
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
Pilgrim, you forgot to mention that they are also the prettiest of animals. From the valleys, boyo? Personally I do wish they wouldn't cough just like humans when it's dark and you are getting tired and are in the middle of nowhere.

Me, I love Lidl's and Aldi's merino blend baselayers. Also Karrimor and Decathlon do a light blended merino base layer that both get good marks among my tight fisted walking companions. ( UK centric, I'm afraid)
 
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Pilgrim9

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Hmmm. Well, Alwyn, a close study of what I wrote will reveal that my adjectival phrase: "low polluting" applied only to the "vegetarian autonomous mobile fibre production units", i.e., the sheep, and not to shearing or post-shearing processes; therefore, no error (whew!). However, I did forget about the scouring. Sorting / grading of fleeces, wool-scouring, and conversion into clean graded tow were all performed by a large foreign supplier, not in the plant where I worked, and therefore not something I thought about very often. It was all many decades ago. Nothing now is left of the textile industry in my country except wistful memories of what once was.
 

nathanael

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Plata,
I’ve had good success with icebreaker underwear, base layers (tops and bottoms) and ‘fashion’ t-shirts over years of use. The pure wool pieces are really comfortable and live up to the hype of being able to control odour... Their socks on the other hand, well, the only good thing was they have a lifetime guarantee. When I returned them after less than 2 weeks the guy at the store said he has seen this before...
I usually wear T-shirts a brand called Joe fresh which I buy here in Canada from Zhers. I am still wearing them with. after two years.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
a close study of what I wrote will reveal that my adjectival phrase: "low polluting" applied only to the "vegetarian autonomous mobile fibre production units"

Very conscious of "vegetarian autonomous mobile fibre production units". Regrettably they add quite a bit of methane to the atmosphere. Bovine and ovine forms of life account for about half of green house gas emissions in my neck of the woods. As there has been a switch here from sheep to dairy cattle in the past few decades they are less of a worry. But that has not stopped research into sheep farmers being able to breed “low methane” sheep.

My question: if you don't wear merino or other woollen garments and seek to have quickest drying, I missed seeing what it is you do wear.

Kia kaha
 
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AlwynWellington

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T-shirts a brand called Joe fresh which I buy here in Canada from Zhers

Hi @nathanael. I've just looked at the Joe Fresh website. And at their "Men's Moisture-wicking active tee".

The materials are said to be 9% Spandex and 91% Jersey.

Can you help me understand what "Jersey" is? If it is a wool, then what is the breed of animal?

It seems very attractively priced at CAD 16.
 

Pilgrim9

Member
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I missed seeing what it is you do wear.

You did not miss it because I did not previously disclose it in this thread, which after all focusses on Merino wool.

I wore knit cotton underclothes, World Wide Sportsman[TM] Part Number CA#45117 quick-dry (QD) nylon long-sleeved sport fisherman's multi-pocket shirt purchased at Bass Pro Shop, Misty Mountain[TM] QD nylon long trousers purchased at a small outdoors store but perhaps also sold at Bass Pro or SAIL, and when raining a generic urethane-lined sleeveless nylon poncho with hood. The poncho was rolled up and secured to the top of my external-frame-pack in such a way that I could quickly unfurl it forwards over my head. Socks were Fruit of the Loom Work Gear Men's Socks, Heavy Duty Crew, 79% cotton, 19% polyester, 1% Lycra, 1% other fibres, UPC 0-42825-31422-1.

These choices were because of personal prior positive experiences with the abrasion resistance and snag resistance of the fabric in those specific brands and models of shirt and trousers, together with economy, ease of replacement of the underclothes and socks with similar generic items along the way should need have arisen (it did not), also because the QD nylon garments were exceptionally easy to hand-wash and hang-dry every night, and because I knew from experience that the sleeves and legs of the QD nylon garments, which protruded from my poncho and got soaked in every rain shower, would self-dry within about 10 minutes +- after cessation of the rainfall. The cotton underclothes did not get rained on. I think I might also have carried one QD shirt and one QD trousers that I reserved exclusively for more refined non-hiking use such as e.g. when visiting museums etc. in large cities; cannot remember for sure as it was 3 or 4 years ago.

I carried about 4 or 5 sets of underclothes and socks so that I could walk about 3 to 4 days between laundromat sessions.

I should point out that my QD garments were made from a sort-of crisp shiny slippery nylon fabric that was not rip-stop, Using my Camino external frame pack I did not get any wear holes or noticeable pilling or rucking, whereas in pre-Camino backpacking years, using an internal frame pack, I ruined several QD nylon shirts of a different brand. The threads of the shirts that got ruined had more texture, the fabric was softer, and the back panels of those shirts became extremely pilled and permanently rucked up and severely wrinkled, especially at and above the area of the pack's hip belt. Annoying because they were expensive shirts. The ones that survived the Camino were not as costly.
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
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Hi @nathanael. I've just looked at the Joe Fresh website. And at their "Men's Moisture-wicking active tee".

The materials are said to be 9% Spandex and 91% Jersey.

Can you help me understand what "Jersey" is? If it is a wool, then what is the breed of animal?

It seems very attractively priced at CAD 16.

Jersey is a style of knit that has the same weave pattern on both sides. It is generally quite soft and flexible, not very thick/bulky. A lot of lounge-wear is jersey knit -- to the point that if someone here asks "Did you bring your jersey?" they are asking if you've brought a pull-over sweater similar to a sweatshirt.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
To be quoted that an article is 91% Jersey is clearly a deception.
As Faye stated Jersey is a style of knitting and although wool was originally used by the knitters on the Island of Jersey, where the style originated, since the inception of other knitting yarns all sorts and types of yarn are used to knit in this style. It could be wool, polyester, rayon, nylon, etcetera.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
TL/DR - merino shirts being shredded by pack. Do you folks wear merino shirts in direct contact with your pack?

I have completed two short hikes with a 5 kilo pack I n as many weeks. I wore a new REI Merino wool shirt for the first hike of about 7k. I washed the shirt, most gentle setting/on cold, and when I was hanging it up I noticed that I had some new ventilation holes on the back. I thought it might be a one off quality control issue, or moths. I took the shirt back and picked up a replacement shirt.

Today I wore a Patagonia brand merino top for a short 6k hike. When I took the top off I noticed that it had holes on the back. Now I’m pretty convinced that the holes are where my pack rubs the back of my shirt, though not where the shoulder straps make contact.

Are my merino shirts too delicate to wear directly next to my pack? Good to go if that’s the case but feel a bit put out that these relatively expensive shirts are not as durable as I want.
No, they are not durable. I found mine wore out pretty quickly (mind you, after many kms) but I still wear them 🙂 And as @Kiwi-family pointed out, they can be mended 😉
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
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I make my own merino dresses. I buy my fabric from vendors in New Zealand. Even with the shipping costs I can make the dresses for much less than they would cost ready made.
and
 

Roland49

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I ordered two Merino T-Shirts online, one of 95% Merino, the other is 55% Merino.

What a difference - a revelation in comparison to my shirts from discount-store I worn on my first Camino.
The 95% was 38€ (47US$), the 55% was 24€ (29,5 US$).
Both from well known brands, both pre-washed. At first I ordered two of the higher price, but the other color was not available in my size anymore, so the store offered me the cheaper one in my ordered color.

I have worn both on short walks as underlayer and both are comfortable to wear.

I'm now looking forward to walk the CP at the last week of April / first week of May. Maybe after that Camino I will have more info to share.

BC
Roland
 

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