But the wool worn today is far better than those rare Air Force trousers. Icebreaker (www.icebreaker.com) products, for instance, are made from merino wool, which is exceptionally soft and itch-free. Plus, there are little natural pores in the fiber that help add insulation, while also allowing wool to absorb a great deal of moisture before it feels wet. Merino wool also is durable, and, like the pants I recall so well, its comfortable across a wider temperature range than synthetics.
I have three Icebreaker shirts of various weights and sleeve lengths. I use them mainly as a base layer for winter bicycling, skiing, and climbing high peaks such as Rainier. Ibex (www.ibexwear.com) and SmartWool (www.smartwool.com) also make excellent wool-based apparel. For warm weather I still tend to prefer Patagonias Silkweight Capilene (www.patagonia.com) and shirts made from CoolMax (available at stores such as L.L. Bean and REI).
Anyway, when wearing a wool base layer, I need about half the total clothing of other people Im with. And I dont need to constantly adjust my layers; I can go with a base layer and maybe a light shell.
The one downside to woolen clothing is its price. Icebreakers very useful Skin 200 Mondo Zipa long-sleeve shirt in a light wool materialis $68. Other pieces are more. That compares to $30 to $40 for most synthetics. But, is it worth it? Overall, Im inclined to say yes. That goes for your Kilimanjaro climb as well. You dont need to pack a half-dozen woolen pieces, but two or threemaybe a lightweight tee and a mid-weight, long-sleeve shirt and bottoms would certainly be useful.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest shell.
Filed To: Base Layer