Merino wool, from the merino sheep, has been a favorite of human beings since the Middle Ages. The sheep’s warm, fuzzy coats yield fine fibers that are softer than cashmere, and smoother than silk. They’re so soft because they are incredibly thin: A single merino wool fiber usually measures less than 22 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter), compared to the average human hair at 50 to 100 microns. Because of its structure, it offers breathability, natural moisture-wicking, thermo-regulation, and odor-resistance.
Merino wool offers warmth without weight and can be worn for everyday occasions as well as for sporting activities, and it allows for multiple wears before tossing in the wash. You may have thought those kinds of performance features had to be engineered into clothes using some kind of man-made fiber. Another plus, most quality merino wool is now grown in Australia, using sustainable farming practices. The raw ingredients churning through each four-legged fuzzy factory are sunshine, fresh air, water, and grass, and every year each sheep produces new fleece, making wool a completely renewable fiber. The fiber also takes color beautifully, so it’s a favorite choice for designers from a wide range of product categories. Here are just a few of our favorite merino wool brands and pieces for men.
What more could you ask from your favorite beanie? This one accomplishes job one: It looks really cool! Best of all, because it’s breathable merino you can wear it just about year-round. It’s soft to the scalp and won’t be itchy. Merino’s natural wicking and odor resistance mean it’s also great for a cold-weather run or ski. It’s also easy to care for: Just toss it into the machine on cold, and lay it flat on a towel to dry.
Read More: Best Beanies for Men
You wear a scarf right next to your neck and face, so of course, you want it to be extra soft, and merino wool delivers. We like the simple graphic design of this one from Hickey Freeman: The gray and black pattern with a bold shot of cobalt blue will look great with a dressy coat, a sporty puffer, or even a denim jacket.
Read More: Best Scarves for Men
A great t-shirt is a wardrobe foundation, but a classic cotton one can start to look a little ragged before long. A merino wool one, on the other hand, will look great for a long time, particularly if you take good care of it. What’s great is that, with merino’s natural anti-odor capabilities, you can pack a few for a trip, air one out for a day, and wear it again without having to wash it! Icebreaker even has outdoor-inspired graphic tees if you’re looking for a more casual look.
Read More: Best Merino Wool Shirts for Men
A classic fine knit merino polo adds miles to your wardrobe: It’s an elegant look that’s easy to wear to the office or a nice dinner out — especially when paired with a sport coat in a coordinating pattern — yet it also offers practicality: The breathability and wicking make it super comfortable during days where you might be moving from winter’s chill outside into an overly heated office space. It also looks great as a layering piece on the slopes! We really like them worn with dark denim, too.
Read More: Best Polo Shirts for Men
You know we’re big fans of a perfect denim shirt around here. Wool & Prince has paired two of our favorite things: A great-looking denim shirt made from a merino wool and cotton blend! It’s stitched up in a classic, wear-anywhere style, with a slight nod to Western styling with metal buttons. It’s another wardrobe workhorse piece that looks great on its own, worn as a layer over a t-shirt, or with a great blazer.
This zip-front mock sweater is warm enough to get a lot of folks through the whole winter, particularly if paired with a down vest. The ribs further enhance merino’s insulating qualities, but they also enhance this sweater’s elegant, minimalist design. It’ll look great for work, work-from-home, or hardly working.
Speaking of working from home, a perfect pair of joggers artfully bestrides the line between trousers and sweatpants. You can feel free to wear them while couch-surfing or walking the dog, but you won’t feel awkward if you suddenly get called into the office for a quick meeting (depending on the office, of course). These are “boiled wool,” so even more dense and soft.
Well, if we’re going to go head-to-toe, we’d better get right next to the skin. These boxers are just part of Rambler’s Way’s commitment to super-soft underwear (and much more made from wool). The bad news? Technically they’re not made from merino. Rambler’s Way actually gets its version of merino from USA-grown sheep called Rambouillet, an American-grown cousin of the original merino. Don’t worry, Rambouillet wool is just as soft, warm, and breathable as merino, and it’s sustainably grown. (So we won’t blame you if you go for the tank top, too.)
Assuming you’re reading this in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is right around the corner. Be prepared for it with a great pair of long underwear. But skip the polyester fabrics and go right for merino’s natural performance qualities. They’re not only great for heading into the outdoors, but they’ll also become your favorite super comfy (and warm) pants for lounging around on cold, lazy weekend mornings.
Where else could you use merino’s warming, wicking, and odor-fighting qualities? On your feet, of course! Smartwool offers its Indestructawool for durability and mesh zones: A whole lot of technology based in wool’s old-fashioned goodness. The modern graphic designs offer fun, but other than a little bit poking up above the shoe, they look like a classic dress sock so you can wear ‘em on the trail, at the office, or right at home.
Read More: Best Merino Wool Socks for Men
These new shoes from Allbirds offer all the support and durability you’ll need for a quick run on the trail, but they’re so good looking they may just become your everyday shoe! They’re made from sustainable materials, including a blend of our good old merino, with all the benefits that implies, made up into a sturdy ripstop fabric.
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