Mons Royale Supa Tech LS
Size Tested: Large
Weight: 263 grams
Material: 100% merino wool; 85% nylon / 15% Lycra (thumb loops)
- 100% New Zealand Southern Alps-sourced merino wool
- Elastane thumb loops
- Flat stitching
- Under-arm mesh vents
MSRP: $109.00 (USD)
Reviewer: 5’10”, 185 lbs.
Days Tested: ~30 days
Locations Tested: New Zealand Club Fields; hiking and running trails, Vermont; Local bars
What smells worse than a Mons Royale Supa Tech LS base layer after 30 days of hard use?
Pretty much everything.
I decided to test Mons Royale’s no-stink claim for their 100% merino base layer. Really test it. Test it to the point where I felt a little grossed out putting on the Supa Tech LS day after day after day after day…
I skied in it for three days in New Zealand, where it was my second layer. I packed it in my ski bag unwashed and brought it home. I didn’t wash it after returning home. I continued wearing it mountain biking as a second layer, and I ran with it numerous times as a next-to-skin base layer.
I wore it out to local bars.
I wore it to the point that my wife told me I wasn’t allowed to wear it any longer, and that I had to wash it. (She said this even after I’d made her and Blister’s own Jonathan Ellsworth smell it. Both said it didn’t smell.)
I didn’t actually wash it. I just kept wearing it because, guess what? It still didn’t stink.
After about a month and half, I finally washed it. Not because it smelled. And not because, like some base layers, it finally started feeling gritty or stiff. I washed it to see how it would hold up to washing and drying. I should note that I don’t ever separate my laundry. My clothes are like Darwin’s finches: only the fit and adaptable survive.
The Supa Tech emerged unscathed from both washing and drying. No pilling, no shrinking. It wasn’t visibly worse for the wear.
(Note: Mons Royale does not recommend putting garments in the dryer. I did, because I’m the decider in my laundry room. It worked fine for me. Take your own chances.)
About Mons Royale
Based in the Southern Alps of Wanaka, New Zealand—home of Treble Cone ski resort—Mons Royale has been around since 2009.
The company only makes merino layers sourced from premium merino wool. And they do it with style in both their prints and their cuts. Take the one-piece Monsie, with a traditional Henley-style top for instance. (Blister reviewer Justin Bobb is currently working on that review.)
And yes, they are called Mons Royale. For you Latin fans out there, “mons” is translated as “mountains,” or sometimes “mounds.” In modern anatomy, we have the “mons pubis,” or pubic mounds. Yes, they did this intentionally because A) Kiwis are funny and clever, and B) “mons” spells “snow” if you flip it upside down (think graphically here, people). They are clever, aren’t they?
The Supa Tech is one of their more straight tech-looking products. Its only concession to style is the Elastane thumb loop in red, which contrasts nicely with the blue of the shirt.
Weight / Warmth
In terms of weight, the Supa Tech LS falls somewhere near a Patagonia Capilene 2, or an Icebreaker 200-weight shirt. The Supa Tech LS fabric is listed at 190 g/m2; it’s thicker than an Icebreaker Tech-Lite T-shirt (150 g/m2 fabric), and thinner than a Helly Hansen Dry layer.
I found the weight to be spot-on for high-output activities like running, biking, and skinning. And it adds enough warmth as a second layer to be worn on milder days under a shell.
Compared to other Mons Royale layers, the Supa Tech LS has a relatively slim cut, but it isn’t skin tight.
My large measures 27” from neck hem to bottom hem, and features 25.5” sleeves (measured from the shoulder to the cuff) that fit my arms well. The Supa Tech has a little bit of four-way stretch, so it never feels restrictive when I’m biking, running, or skiing.
I found that the Supa Tech was easily long enough to stay tucked in my ski pants, and it didn’t leave me with an exposed “tramp stamp” area. I’ve owned other shirts that were cut too short, and I appreciate that the Supa Tech avoids this annoying issue.
The thumb loops are nicely cut, and they’re stretchier than that rest of the shirt since they’re made from 85% nylon and 15% Lycra. To my surprise, I’ve found that I use the thumb loops all the time. They keep the Supa Tech LS in place when I’m putting on extra layers, and they actually function as minimalist gloves if you go running in cool weather. Since they’re a tad bulky to wear under most gloves, I usually don’t use them once I’m layered up.
The Supa Tech feels softer than a similar wool Icebreaker T-shirt I use regularly, warmer than a Patagonia Capilene 2 layer, and it wicks sweat better than my old Icebreaker T-shirts—and nearly as well as a 5-year-old Patagonia Capilene “body-mapped” base layer, which is the best sweat-wicking layer I’ve ever used.
I’ve found that my 2-year-old Icebreaker T-shirts will get saturated with sweat pretty quickly when I’m skinning, to the point that I hardly use them anymore. The Supa Tech LS, on the other hand, keeps sweat off my body and dries quickly.
[Note: I haven’t tested any of the new Icebreaker shirts, but I have checked them out and found that the new Icebreaker fabrics in the 150-200 g/m2 range feel similar to the Mons Royale Supa Tech LS fabric.)
I also noticed that my Mons Royale shirt felt fuzzier than either the new or the old Icebreaker products. Whether this is the result of brushing or simply wearing and washing by me, I can’t say. But I think this slight fuzziness is part of what helps the Supa Tech LS move sweat as well as it does.
Does the Supa Tech LS wick better than a similar-weight synthetic layer? Not quite. It moves sweat well, but it doesn’t dry quite as fast as the synthetic layers I’ve used before, including products from Patagonia, North Face, Helly Hansen, Nike, and Under Armor.
Have I mentioned that the Supa Tech LS feels soft on your skin? It’s super soft. I know, merino is supposed to be soft. But some of my Icebreaker shirts felt a bit rough initially, and only softened up after several washings. The Supa Tech LS, on the other hand, is soft from the get-go.
The Supa Tech LS also has merino-mesh underarm fabric. Personally, I didn’t notice this fabric to vent much more heat than the rest of the shirt. I think if these sections were larger (they measure 8”x4” on the Supa Tech) and extended farther down the side of the body and up the upper arm, they would breathe better.
I’ve had the Supa Tech LS for about four months. In that time, I’ve washed it two or three times. But I’ve worn this layer a lot and during a wide variety of activities. In that time, I haven’t noticed any major wear. The inner and outer faces of the fabric are somewhat fuzzy, but the shirt ships that way and, as I mentioned before, is part of what makes this layer so comfortable. I haven’t noticed any pilling, and there are no holes.
It has also held its shape well and hasn’t deformed after washing.
If you want a lightweight, stink-free, technical base-layer that you can wear to the bar and that feels great against your skin, the Supa Tech LS is hard to beat.
It has a slimmer, performance fit without being skin-tight, it wicks sweat exceptionally well, it will keep you pretty warm, and it simply refuses to smell bad. I wear this layer daily both while skinning and lift-ride skiing, and I don’t imagine that changing anytime soon.