Mons Royale's Redwood 3/4 raglan t-shirt is one of a host of designs offered by the New Zealand-based tech clothing company. Made from 83% Merino wool, this t-shirt is designed to keep you cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold – even when you and the t-shirt are wet – all without looking out of place both on and off the bike. Merino wool comes from the Merino breed of sheep that are famed for their ability to withstand cold in the winter and heat in the summer thanks, mostly, to their highly-technical fleece. Not only does Merino wool regulate your temperature, its anti-bacterial properties help reduce pongy pits after you've given it plenty of effort on the trails.
Mons Royale Redwood T-Shirt
• Merino Air-Con fabric
• Drop tail
• Integrated sunglasses wipe
• Raglan sleeves
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Colours: red/blue, blue
• MSRP: €90 / $100 USD
Merino's ability to keep you warm when it's cold is down to the material's crimps. These are like waves in the make-up of the material that trap air, which acts as a layer of insulation. Merino offers a lot of performance, so it comes as no surprise that clothing made from the material is expensive to buy, and this particular garment costs €90.
The Redwood t-shirt's raglan sleeves are baggy enough to be elbow pad-friendly but aren't too big that they inflate and flap around if you prefer going padless, and overall the t-shirt has a fairly relaxed fit. The drop tail helps to keep mud and spray off your back or from flying down your shorts if the trails are grotty. The thin mesh 100% Merino back panel does a great job of keeping your back cooler than a traditional synthetic riding top. It also comes with a handy sunglasses or goggle wipe stitched into the left-hand hip seam.
The drop tail keeps crud from going down your shorts.
By this point, I'm sure some of you are scoffing at the price tag, right? Fair enough, €90 is quite a lot of money for a t-shirt. But let's be entirely clear here, this isn't just any old t-shirt. Although it probably isn't going to make you 10-seconds faster on your favourite bit of trail and it probably won't give you the fitness of a cross-country marathon racer, this t-shirt does provide exceptional comfort, body-heat regulation and doesn't reek after hefty rides and prolonged use.
I've been testing it for the last few months during the UK's incredibly changeable (mostly variations of wet) spring. I've used it as a base-layer on cold and wet rides, a mid-layer beneath my waterproof jacket on sticky and mild missions and, more recently, as my only layer on hot and sunny day-long epics. Every time I've put the t-shirt on I've been confident knowing that no matter how sweaty, wet, cold or hot I or the weather becomes it'll still be doing its thing without any kind of protest. The fabric feels fantastic against your skin even when wet, and despite washing it without any fabric softener it hasn't lost its soft feel.
The goggle/glasses wipe is handy if you've steamed up.
The mesh backing is a godsend if you, like me, wear a backpack when you're out riding. Although your back still gets sweaty, because the t-shirt's fabric is thin and light the additional weight of the sweat is barely noticeable once your back is drenched. Without your bag on, it feels like the wind is whistling around your body.
On very hot and sunny days the best way to describe how it feels to don the t-shirt is like someone erecting an umbrella above your head, providing you with shaded respite from the pounding sun. There is something genuinely miraculous about Merino wool, and as soon as you put on a standard synthetic top the Mons Royal's Redwood t-shirt feels like pure luxury. Not only that, after you've owned the top for a while you'll also notice how it retains its 'fresh as a daisy' smell, no matter how much abuse your sweat glands can throw at it. I can't say the same for synthetic riding tops – to fully remove the smell of sweat from some garments I've had to perform multiple exorcisms.
The t-shirt's fit is on the casual side of tight but isn't slim enough to impede flow on the trail. My fairly-slim, athletic build (5' 10", 73kg), was the perfect match for Mons Royals' medium size. If you were looking to use the t-shirt exclusively as a base-layer then it might be wise to downsize by one size. Otherwise, I'd suggest going for the size that is recommended for your build. The t-shirt's drop tail isn't massive but did do the job – I didn't notice any splatters up my back or down my pants from the mucky trails whilst wearing it.
It is also worth pointing out that Mons Royale's Merino-based riding tops are exceptionally well-made and last the test of time when compared to other brands' offerings. I and other people who have owned Mons Royale riding kit for several years all attest to its ability to stand up to punishment, resisting fading, fraying or laddering of the fabric – something that not all premium brands can boldly claim.
The thin mesh back is a welcome feature on hot days.
The only issue I have with this particular t-shirt is the logo and slogan's design. But, taste is a matter of opinion and one man's ugly is another man's beautiful, so it would be unfair to criticize the Redwood for this. Mons Royale do offer plenty of designs that do appeal to me, so if I was purchasing a riding top it wouldn't be hard to find one that pleases.Pinkbike's Take