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No longer just for hikers and skiers, today’s new lightweight, technical wool keeps you warm and wicks away sweat like the best synthetic fabrics.
The wool of yesteryear was warm, but also bulky, difficult to wash, and usually too hot for high-intensity endurance sports. Today’s Merino wool is blended with technical fabrics to remain lightweight, perform in almost all conditions, and machine wash easily—all while retaining the soft feel and anti-stink properties that have given wool its good name. There’s no better time to get wooly than when temperatures dip in the fall.
Icebreaker Cool-Lite Sphere Short Sleeve Crewe
Using Icebreaker’s proprietary blend of wool, TENCEL (a textile made from sustainably-grown eucalyptus), and nylon, this lightweight tee specializes in moisture wicking. It feels warm at the start—when you want it to—then does an excellent job of getting sweat off your skin as you heat up. As a result, you feel warmer and drier as your intensity varies and outside temperatures change. Though it’s a pricey piece of clothing, the Cool-Lite Sphere Short Sleeve Crewe works well in all four seasons—either on its own or as an underlayer.
Smartwool PhD 7” 2-In-1 Short
Bridging the gap between tights and a pair of shorts, the PhD 7” 2-In-1 Short’s built-in brief liner is a blend of Merino and polyester to provide support and added warmth for your lower bits. Featuring details like a zip pocket and 360-degree reflective material, these shorts are ideal for fall running. We liked the mid-cut length and were still able to wear these shorts when temperatures and efforts climbed. The outer shell acted as an effective wind barrier, and the shorts’ wicking properties worked as advertised. Be sure you’re comfortable with wearing a long liner (feels like tights underneath shorts), because even though it reduced chafing, it’s a sensation unlike that of most running shorts.
These bib shorts are also the warmest piece of gear we tested. They shine in the fall and spring, but you can use them straight through winter by pairing them with knee or leg warmers. While many cyclists may be familiar with retro wool jerseys, the feel of Merino wool bib shorts is second to none. These shorts held up wonderfully on chilly descents and moderate to cool climbs, and the flatlock seams and anatomic variable-density pad were incredibly comfortable on long rides. Despite excellent wicking and odor-control capabilities, these shorts are not ideal for warm riding.