Review: The Way-New Wool

Feb 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

a. ICEBREAKER's BUTTON SHIRT ($110) encourages spontaneity. Don this dapper all-merino top for your workday, and when the powder flies, add a shell and bolt outdoors with your cross-country gear. Wool's natural antimicrobial properties—it won't retain sweat's stink-producing fats and salts—improve your odds of slipping unobtrusively back to the cubicle. b. Like a flyweight boxer, the WOOLRICH ZENITH VEST ($110) packs power without bulk. Compact, crimped wool fibers trap plenty of air for warmth, yet the vest folds down to paperback dimensions. Wear this one with a base layer: A 20 percent nylon infusion boosts durability but doesn't totally banish itchiness. c. MARMOT's ADAMANT HOODY ($275) was designed by skiers—copter guides from Canadian Mountain Holidays—for skiers. Marmot wedded a wool outer layer with an interior of Gore WindStopper to shut out arctic blasts and icy prop-wash but also to dissipate heat when you're weaving perfect eights. One bummer: Dry-clean only. d. Save weight and pack space by toting ICEBREAKER's toasty POCKET HAT ($28) into the backcountry. The merino skullcap, which fits nicely under a helmet or hood, stays warm when wet—eliminating the need for one lid dedicated to ascending and a dry backup for the trip down. e. Pull on SMARTWOOL's AERO TIGHT ($55), a base layer that'll keep your legs warm even when drenched from slush. f. SMARTWOOL's SPRING GLOVES ($70) have bike-commuting written all over them. A soft leather palm wraps easily around a handlebar grip and won't impede a thumb-shift. Work up a sweat and that same hide breathes, but push into an arctic breeze and the wool lining prevents fingertip numbness. g. Armored with a Cordura skin, the IBEX NEVE JACKET ($260) shrugs off scrapes and fits comfortably under a harness. Zip the Neve over a short-sleeved bike jersey and you'll appreciate the soft merino interior. Cinch the neck gaiter and powder skirt and the lightweight shell will keep you toasty on endless telemark descents. h. SMARTWOOL's ADVENTURE LIGHT HIKER ($16) socks keep your dogs fresh on an afternoon hike but don't feel mushy in trail-running shoes. The below-calf height and open-knit instep head off overheating around the office or in an airport. i. Mammoth meets Manhattan in the ARC'TERYX GOTHIC PANT ($185). Two-thirds polyester and nylon, the highly elastic fabric allows you to genuflect on telly sticks or throw a snowshoed foot over a fallen tree. Four pockets under the Italian wool hold enough Gu and sunscreen for an epic day. Come après time, your look is pure Prada. j. It took just one long, sweaty session inside ICEBREAKER's TECH TOP ($84) to prove wool's performance qualities. The thin merino undershirt doesn't wick moisture as fast as synthetic underwear, but the heat-retaining duds will feel neither clammy nor cold while you wait.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Need a Gear Fix?

Open email. Get latest gear. Repeat.

Thank you!