Chocolate Fish Merino, Taranaki Long Sleeve Crewe and Leggings first look.

Chocolate Fish are an independant UK web-only outfit who supply merino wool attire in many varieties. They’ve recently started producing their own brand of clothing called Taranaki. There are all the usual suspects in the product list, boxers, leggings, crew and zip necks and more. The quirk is that it’s New Zealand merino, made into stuff in a New Zealand factory by New Zealanders. In fact, it’s made by the old Icebreaker people who were abandoned when the brand sought fame, fortune and bigger returns by going to China.

For test I’ve got the Taranaki long sleeve crew as seen above in charcoal marl, which is actually quite dressy looking. Fit is close but not tight, and both body and sleeve length are good on me. The seams aren’t flatlocked but feel soft, the 185g fabric is smooth with a nice amount of stretch. The sleeves pull up over my elbows no problem.

The weight of the fabric is interesting, it’s inbetween the usual standards of 200g for “all-season” and 150g for ultra light clothing. In summer the 200g is on the limit when dealing with sweat if you’re really pushing and the 150g doesn’t seem to have enough “wooliness” to stay as fresh when you wear it day after day. That’s all relative of course, merino still beats synthetic tops into a whimpering ball in the corner with a big stick. There is no more comfort avaiable than that obtained from the fruit of the sheep.  Aye anyway, so 185g is a sensible compromise I think, the proof will be in the sweating and sleeping in it.

Also here are the leggings below in the same fabric, dead simple, merino covered elastic waist, same slim fit. As ever, more later.

14 thoughts on “Chocolate Fish Merino, Taranaki Long Sleeve Crewe and Leggings first look.”

  1. I use both wool and synthetics and have to agree that the natural stuff is better…however I recently got hold of a Haglofs active range midweight base layer top(021 I think) which is mightily impressive,quite tight however,but great nonetheless.
    Some of the Finnisterre base layers are pretty good too.
    Now I’m off to watch the new Paradise lost DVD…

  2. I like the idea of using Merino baselayers but wool makes me itch something rotten. Even Merino, which is meant to be soft and lovely makes me itch just touching a forearm on it.

  3. Nice one, Petesy. I love my (older) icebreaker tops, although I’m finding they do get holes in them (not sure if anyone has any thoughts on that), and was quite horrified when I wandered into Snow and Rock in Manchester to find an entire new room given over to suddenly slightly cheaper Icebreaker kit. Of course, upon inspection the kit is now made in China as you say. So I love merino and I love the idea of keeping those former employees in work. Ooh, and I also have a great fondness for NZ, too.

    Looking forward to the review!

  4. Taran, you’re not wrong about the tightness of Haglofs underwear :o0

    I still wear synthetics, just never for an overnighter.
    Although X-Static with the silver fibres in it does work at the odour eating, but apparently the processes to make it are exceptionally polutant. Helly Hansen’s long sleeve Lifa tops must have about the best fit of any base layer, the fabric though…

    Beth, that is a bugger indeed.

    Baz, it’s good to be dealing with the independants for sure. Holes in merino, I’ve got those! I get it under my rucksack waist belt buckle because I forget to tuck it it. And there is the moth element. Leave a merino top in a drawer and they will find it.
    Chocolate Fish reminded me of this when I was speaking to the the other day, and it’s true enough.

    That’s another thing to give me the heebeegeebees.

  5. Was comparing rucksack-buckle moth-holes this very afternoon with LB…

    beth – LB too has most sensitive skin – have you tried the “wash it with two pairs of Jeans in soap” trick? It’s what Icebreaker themselves recommend. Guess it’s an expensive gamble though. Also you’re supposed to wear it for a couple of nights to get the right oils into it first – maybe try it on a willing partner? (I’m sure I read of someone doing that somewhere).

    *PTC – excellent info. Huge fans of the fruit of the daft bouncing ovines ourselves. So it’s very interesting to hear of the pedigree of the Chocolate Fish stuff.

    Do you happen to know anything re. their anti-mulesing policy? (And thanks for that info Peewiglet – if you read this :)

  6. I’ve had plenty comms with Chocolate Fish while we were sorting out the test kit. The seem like good folks and I think that the ethical and environmental stuff seems to be top of the list.

    And this direct from NZ this morning…”It is produced in free range farming systems, which are animal – and environment friendly. Our selected farms are chosen for their commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability in farm management practices, as well as the superb quality of their Merino wool. “

  7. Any recommendations for long sleeve zip synthetic tops? My brother (he’s a big lad at 6’6″) wants me to find him a good baselayer but he finds merino wool too itchy as well, and as I only wear merino bases these days I’m not sure what the best synthetic options are?

  8. I’m a bit out of the loop there as well.
    Helly Hansen are much better for smell resistence these days and have zip necks and I do like their fit. I saw a stack of Haglofs zip neck baselayers yesterday, some crazy colours and some black in there as well.
    There’s always the likes of Berghaus’s Xstatic tops, Patagonia’s Capeline stuff?
    I know there’s some silk base layers about as well, maybe that’s an option that keeps him away from synthetic?

  9. Followed your link to the Chocolate Fish site the other day – they’ve got some of their 200g mens long sleeve zip & crew necks in their bargain basement – ltd sizes & colours obviously, but worth a look.

  10. Thanks for asking them *PTC!

    I hesitate to write this… but they don’t actually say that they have anti-mulesing policy. Which sadly makes me think they don’t.

    Which is a shame, especially if they actually do.

  11. I just read up about mulesing a bit.
    As a heating engineer my take on it is that it’s an old practice used to address a real problem now being replaced my modern methods.

    Taking it to the usual cliched extremes, some farmers look on their animals the same way as I look on my toolbox, there to be used to make a living. Animal rights folk think that farm animals are cuddly toys who should walk on carpets.

    The truth as always is somewhere in the middle.

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