REVIEW: Armadillo LYNX Top

Whether it’s hot or cold weather, choosing the right baselayer might be one of the most crucial decisions regarding your first line gear. Baselayers have come a long way from the old cotton-only days, the smelly polyprop layers, the days of underarmour, right up to the current state of the art merino products. Merino seems to be the last word in military baselayers – for good reasons, like its FR capabilities, its breathability, its insulation and last but not least, the antimicrobial properties. Seems like Merino Wool has no drawbacks, right? In fact, this wonder fabric has one major flaw, which is its poor abrasion resistance. I literally chewed up many Merino base layers just by wearing them with full kit. Even a rucks pelvic belt will shred off most Merino tops after some time.

The low profile label is flat and placed on the outside of the garment.

There are only two ways to solve this problem, which is on one hand, blending the merino wool with a synthetic. This in turn, means that the fabric will lose some of its unique properties to a certain percentage. The other way is searching for a better knit and using the right size of fibers. Those two methods can of course be combined. At the moment you can observe something like a race for the best Merino properties, which is driven by many manufacturers like First Spear, Falke, Arcteryx and others. I was preferring First Spears approach, but after some research I stumbled upon Armadillo Merino. Armadillo is a British company and relatively new Player in this, aforementioned race. Besides the fact that their garments are even tested in space (!) they have an interesting history behind their companies founding:

In 2011, Andy was watching images of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with avoidable burns and injuries from the clothes they were wearing. Wanting to stop these avoidable injuries, he founded Armadillo Merino.

From Armadillo Merinos Website

So Armadillos focus is on FR, which is in my eyes a really good approach for military and industrial technical clothing. I have been running Armadillos Condor Shirt, which is something like their baseline product and also their socks for several months now and Iam really impressed so far. But a piece of clothing that really caught my attention is their LYNX baselayer.  

The LYNX is a two layer construction, made out of a rib knit Merino outer and a Merino/Polyamid inner mesh layer.

The LYNX is a long sleeve top with a standup collar and a zipper for ventilation. Armadillo uses a blend of 90% Merino and 10% FR Polyamid for the LYNXs liner, while the outer consists of 100% Merino Wool, robustness is achieved by a tight ribknit and the use of really fine Merino fibers. The LYNX claims to be a suitable bottom layer for tropical-, as well as arctic conditions. This claim seemed to be to much of a promise as the weight of 170g/m2 wool seemed to less for arctic- and to much for hot conditions, but more on this later.

The Mesh lining is made of a Merino/ Polyamid blend.

The secret sauce of the Lynx is located on the inside of the shirt, which is made of mesh material, which many might recall from brands like Brynje.  The idea of placing mesh next to the body is based on the fact that insulation works best when there is a little distance between your body and the insulating layer, as this distance prevents “cold bridges”, while creating warm air pockets between your skin and the garment. Naturally, in hot environments the mesh works like an air conditioning system that is wicking moisture to the outer layer and is naturally venting hot air out of those aforementioned air pockets.

Armadillos LYNX Shirt feels comfortable at every time, may it be noon…
… or during colder evenings.

The cut of the Lynx is classic, featuring a standing collar which can be opened with a zipper, right down to the lower chest, which adds some ventilation if necessary. It is also important to note that the zipper has zipper garages in the closed-, as well as the open position, to prevent chaffing. The Merino fabric is soft and ring spun, which is a robust and comfortable way of construction. The shoulders are seamless as well as the lower arms are, so a pack or a plate carrier wont et in touch with the flat seams. Armadillo made the cuffs elastic and integrated thumbholes, for those who actually use them.

The Lynx wears well under a full combat loadout. But should be protected by a Combat shirt or blouse.
Even during longer marches at 20°C I felt no need to even open the collar.

I have worn the Armadillo LYNX for an exercise, which lasted two days. The temperature was between 21°C in the noon and the 2°C at night. I only put off the Lynx for twenty minutes for a water crossing. During patrolling I wore it under a combat shirt and even at 20°C it regulated my body temperatures so well that I don’t even had to open the collar. I never recognized that I was wearing a base layer at any time. At the evening and during rests in the nighttime I wore the LYNX as the only layer of insulation and it felt like I was wearing a pajama, it did a great job in preventing my body from cooling down and I only put on my puffy jacket while sleeping. Talking about abrasion resistance, the LYNX was always tucked into my pants and I was wearing a chestrig and a backpack while patrolling.

Closeup of an elasticized cuff.

There were no visible damages on the inside or outside of the shirt. This quickly changed because of a stupid mistake during the aforementioned water crossing, where I hanged the shirt inside-out on a branch for drying, I took it off as soon as I was ready to go and sadly ripped a little hole into the mesh inlay, this only an insult to my own stupidness and not to the LYNX. Before the crossing I intentionally soaked the LYNX in water to see how well it dries. After squeezing the shirt a bit, it completely dried in less than an hour.

So is Armadillos LYNX a jack of all trades? Yes, as it even exceeded my keenest expectations. The LYNX is a base layer that feels at home at hot-wet as well as cold-wet and cold dry environments. The mesh inlay improves the functionality of merino and is keeping you comfortable at any circumstances. If I had to chose only one next to skin layer, it would be the LYNX.

The LYNX is available at S4 Supplies.

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