Our brand ambassador, Graham Kelly, is an extremely active man with the best beard we know! He's always popping up all over the place running or cycling here and there, and we noticed the Arran merino lite top was a firm favourite. He's had his for a while and asked him for an honest long term review for you all. Over to Graham...
I’ve had a Findra Arran Merino-lite Enduro Long Sleeve Top pretty much since it first came out so I suppose this is a late/long term review. It became very quickly the base layer of choice for pretty much every outdoor activity from walking, running, climbing through to cycle touring.
The first thing I liked about the men's range of Findra clothes was the styling. When they started to cater to the male market, they remained true to their roots and the colours/design demonstrated that with a Findra garment being recognisable from the more generic makes. Through strong environmental credentials and the Scottish link and they had my backing from the start.
The Loch Blue/Eggplant colour scheme works well and seems to match just about everything else I own. Sizing is comfortable with the large being a nice loose but not baggy fit for me (I’m usually a 40inch chest in a jacket). Could possibly have squeezed into the medium but I prefer a bit of room. The top weighs in at 150g so certainly lite! The side panels are a mesh design to provide extra ventilation but the mesh is fine enough not to look like a string vest!
I’ve used the Arran top in almost every possible range of conditions from Californian heat during the Born to Run Ultra Marathon, a multi-day ultra running event in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, hill walking all year round here in Scotland, fell running in the Lakes to a recent week-long cycle tour through the Outer Hebrides and never once did I wish for an alternative base layer. For the higher intensity activities, I’ve either used it on it’s own or added a Pertex vest or jacket to keep the wind out. In winter, the top has worked well when added to other insulation layers or indeed just itself under a shell jacket.
Probably the greatest test was the Hebridean bike packing trip. This started with running the Barrathon event round the island of Barra before continuing north through the islands on the bike. Wanting to carry the absolute minimum I only carried the Arran top plus a spare t-shirt. Finishing the run on a warm Barra day, the top was damp from sweating but with the sun still out and a lite breeze, it soon dried out. For the next six days, the top remained on my body 24hours a day coping with dampness thanks to the rain showers and sweat thanks to the climbs in Harris. I had opted for a one-season sleeping bag so slept in it as well. No idea of the physics behind the merino but the body feel temperature was pretty consistent and even getting back to Glasgow a week later, it smelt fine unlike me!
I do have a second Arran top but been saving that one for the day the first one gets lost. Doing a side by side comparison, the colours and sizing have stayed true in the original which considering the amount of wear is impressive. I do have a couple of small holes in the sleeve thanks to a wee tumble down scree but these will darn up nicely once I get round to it.
Improvements in such a simple garment are hard to come by but if I had one observation it’d would be to have the thumb loops that many of the other garments in the Findra range have. I’m not a great one for gloves unless totally necessary the option to roll the cuffs down and loop over the thumbs would make the Arran unbeatable for me.