The Gear Junkie Scoop: Merino Wool Bike Hoodies

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Last year, when I wrote about a pair of bike pants from Outlier clothing, I noted the company's products are made for a “small, affluent market niche.” Indeed, Outlier's tagline–“Tailored performance clothing for cycling in the city”–nods to the New York City-based company's theme of design that treads a line where fashion and function can tentatively meet.

The clothing, which is made with expensive, high-performing fabrics, could appeal to gritty urban fixie types as well as pretty hipster boys (and girls) hoping to borrow the look. To me, the Outlier clothing line ( seems to take cues from bike-courier culture while adding classic dressy cuts and subdued looks you might see in the world of fashion and design. Performance–breathability, durability, and “wearability” on a bike — is there, too.

All these traits come together in the company's Classic Merino Hoodie, which, at a sky-high $225, is out of reach for most workaday bikers. Like the company's 4Season OG bike pants–a $180 product that are essentially performance dress pants–the Merino Hoodie offers a unique hybrid piece that can do double duty in social situations as well as during moderate physical activity, like riding a bike to work.

I got a Classic Merino Hoodie to try out for a couple months last year. Since October, I have worn it riding and simply going about daily life. The Merino Hoodie, made from a fine New Zealand wool with a hint of nylon added in, is undoubtedly nice. It is warm, breathable, soft, and good looking. 

The drawstring hood is large and floppy, made to fit over or under a helmet. The two-way zipper lets you regulate ventilation while on a ride. Beyond that, the Classic has few bike-specific features but works fine for commuting or casual riding around town.

A similar product is the Cobra Hoodie from Chrome Industries, also made of merino wool top. It costs $160 and has a slightly rougher feel to the outer fabric, though it doesn't itch inside. There is a soft “fleeced backing” on the interior, which is warm and cozy on bare skin. 

Like the Outlier hoodie, the also-pricey Chrome ( wicks and keeps you warm. It's good for performance for sweaty commutes on cool days. 

Extra touches on the Chrome include front hand-warmer pockets, thumb loops on the cuffs, a key pocket on the wrist area, and a large jersey-type cargo pocket with a concealed zipper on back. 

The Chrome fits tighter than the Outlier and is more performance-minded. But the Outlier has a subtler, higher-end look and doesn't scream “bike wear” as much as the Chrome piece might. If you can afford it, either of these hoodies is a solid top for cool days in a city, on and off a bike. 

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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