Pull the Wool Over

With thin weaves and ultrafine fibers, merino beats the summer heat

IN ONLY A FEW YEARS, silky merino wool has gained acceptance as a true performance fabric, standing alongside advanced synthetics in cold-weather mid- and base layers. And now it's challenging cotton for space in your T-shirt drawer. Companies like New Zealand's Icebreaker and Steamboat Springs, Colorado–based Smartwool have spun fabrics that apply wool's natural breathability, wicking characteristics, and odor-fighting properties to featherweight summer styles. It's an old idea that's new again—up until the early eighties, Tour de France jerseys were made of wool. But unlike those scratchy tops of yore, today's high-quality merino fibers, some married to more durable nylon, are one-fourth the width of a human hair—meaning no itchiness and smooth style. If it's good enough for an Italian suit, it's good enough for your undershirt.

Tee Up
Moto Tee (far right), 100 percent wool; $65; www.smartwool.com

QuT (far left), 100 percent wool; $79; www.ibexwear.com

Sequence T (left), polyester and wool; $35; www.orgear.com

Emissary (right), 100 percent wool; $80; www.arcteryx.com

Superfine Elite T (not pictured), 100 percent wool; $89; www.icebreaker.com

Interwool Mountain Versatile Tee (not pictured), wool-polyester-spandex composite; $55; www.macpac.co.nz

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