The country that birthed Dale of Norway Sweaters, Olympic Gold Medalist Kari Traa and shield maidens has yet another notch on the bedpost of innovation: Brynje of Norway Wool Thermo Long Sleeve Shirt with Inlay ($94.95) and Wool Thermo Longs with Inlay ($94.95)!
I first learned about Brynje of Norway in 2010 when my husband—who at the time was active duty military—spent the month of February in Norway on a winter training deployment with the Norwegian Home Guard. He came home with a set of Norwegian Home Guard-issued wool fishnet baselayers. It’s 2018 and he still chirps about the superiority of his fishnets over my Smartwool and Ibex baselayers.
What I loved
- Lightweight and extremely packable. More so than my Smartwool and Ibex. Brynje of Norway’s fishnet mesh design simply uses less fabric. When I ball up the bottoms or tops of the Brynje of Norway and compare to my Smartwool and Ibex tops, the Brynje of Norway are noticeably smaller—which means they are lighter and will take up less space in a backpack. Guess which set of baselayers is going with me to Greenland? Ding! You guessed it.
- Bulk-free fit. They go on like a pair of fishnet stockings and form to my body. But they’re not entirely fishnet. They have solid wool panels in the front core, shoulders and knees and fit better under any midlayer and over my bike chamois. More so than my Smartwool and Ibex because, again, there is just less fabric.
- Exceptional warmth and moisture-transfer. Wool is the original tech fabric and keeps you warmer, drier and can go much longer in between washes than synthetic fabrics. In theory, you’d think that the fishnet style on the arms, legs and back wouldn’t keep you as warm as a solid-wool design but they do. I found this to be true snowshoeing and fatbiking when the temperatures hovered in the high-teens to low twenties with chilly wind. When snowshoeing I wore only the Brynje of Norway with a North Face Apex softshell a pair of Ibex snowpants as my outerlayers. On the fatbike my outerlayers were a Pearl Izumi Versa Quilted Hoodie and a pair of Club Ride tights. I was certainly warm enough but what was most noticeable was how much better they managed and transferred moisture than my other wool baselayers. After fatbiking, the Pearl Izumi Versa Quilted Hoodie was soaking wet but my back and core were not. The logic is pretty simple. The gaps in the fishnet mesh trap warmth against the skin where you need it but also don’t hold onto moisture because there just isn’t enough fabric to hold it. So sweat passes onto your next layer.
- Longterm durability. I’ve only had my Brynje of Norway fishnets since February but remember earlier when I mentioned my husband’s first encounter with them? It was 2011. Seven years later he is still living in them during the winter. Plus, they’re made in Europe. As an aside, my husband always washed his in Woolite on the gentle cycle and air dried them. I intend to do the same to ensure an equally long life.
What I didn’t like
- Nothing. There is nothing that is nit-pickable with Brynje of Norway. Some shoppers might balk at the steep price tag ($95 for a top and $95 for the bottoms) but you do get what you pay for. Quality wool baselayers are at this price point while still being made in China.