Q:

Is wool in a cycling jersey license to itch?

I'm after a wool cycling jersey that's comfortable, visible, and practical (i.e., machine-washable, non-shrink). By comfortable, I mean not scratchy and not too form-fitting. I tried the Kucharik jersey made from merino wool but found it quite itchy, particularly around the neck. I would really love to try wool for all its reported benefits, but I can't find a jersey, or even a shirt, that is comfortable, conspicuous, and practical. Is this a hopeless quest, meaning I'll forever be stuck with clmy, stinky synthetics? Richard Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Dec 22, 2003
Outside
Outside Magazine

La Strada

A: Something of a traditionalist, aren't you? That's not a bad thing, though, as wool used to be very common in cycling jerseys, and it makes a great material.

Still, I'm not 100 percent sure I can solve your problem. There are other wool jerseys out there; a Colorado company called Bouré makes one ($190; www.boure.com), and the Vintage Velos site (www.vintagevelos.com) also stocks some wool jerseys that include replicas of what Eddy Merckx wore. They're moderately bright—a wool jersey will never go the way of those jungle-print synthetics—but they're pretty good. Price is about $125. However, all of the above are also made of the same merino wool you seem not to care for much. In fact, I'm surprised to hear you're not happy with the Kucharik jersey ($90 for a summer jersey; www.kucharik.com) as they have an excellent reputation. And the fit should have been pretty trim. So I'm stumped. You might, however, try one other jersey—from Ibex. They make a jersey called La Strada, available in an orange-yellow, that sells for $115 (www.ibexwear.com). Ibex stuff is great; 100 percent merino, and if it scratches, then it's not the jersey, it's a skin allergy or something.

Alternatively, for all but very warm weather, you might get away with a light wool T-shirt under a synthetic jersey. I wear my Icebreaker Tech T ($60; www.icebreakernz.com) all the time, and love it. No itch problems at all!

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