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We love merino wool: The absolute best socks, base layers, and more

These are the best wool clothing buys for men

The best Merino wool clothing is soft, breathable, odor-resistant, and temperature-regulating.
Mission Workshop

Like a good, strong beer and Medieval swords, merino wool has been a favorite of human beings since at least the Middle Ages. The merino sheep’s warm, fuzzy coats yield ultra-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 measures less than 22 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter); compared to the average human hair at 50 to 100 microns. That same structure guarantees breathability, natural moisture wicking, thermo-regulation, and odor resistance — all of which make it a near-perfect fiber for performance clothing.

Another plus: The best 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. Each sheep produces new fleece every year, making merino wool a completely renewable resource. 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 pieces from the world’s best merino wool brands.

Stack of sweaters
Tijana Drndarski / Unsplash

What is merino wool?

It can get complicated when you start looking into different kinds of fabrics. And wool is no different. Merino wool is specifically made from merino sheep. These started in Spain, and at one point, exporting the breed to other countries was punishable by death. Lucky for us, the animals made it out, and a kind of softer wool that is easier to wear against your skin came about from their fur. It has seemingly endless benefits like temperature regulation, softness, and even fire resistance.

If you love the outdoors, there is no better choice of fabrics for you to choose from. There are garments made from everything from wool sweaters to wool socks. Here are some of the best merino wool options on the market to get as the temperatures are falling.

Meriwool unisex merino wool cuff beanie hat

Meriwool Unisex Merino Wool Cuff Beanie Hat

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 wool, 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 a wool beanie is also great for a cold-weather run or ski. This is one of the best things to pick up to wear with a merino wool sweater. It’s also easy to care for: Just toss it into the machine on cold and lay it flat on a towel to dry.

Man wearing Outdoor Vitals Merino Wool Neck Gaiter
Outdoor Vitals

Outdoor Vitals Merino wool Neck Gaiter

From his childhood using trash bags and staying warm to developing outdoor gear to fill the vacuum he experienced, Outdoor Vitals’, Tayson, has spent a lifetime perfecting what is needed to explore the outdoors without waiting for Mother Nature to agree with you. He turned to merino wool for this neck gaiter with a sloped back perfect for tucking under a hat while still covering your nose.

Orvis Cashmere Scarf

Orvis Barbour Merino/Cashmere Tartan Scarf

A scarf sits right next to your neck and face. Naturally, you want it to be extra soft, and merino wool delivers. We like the simple, timeless design of this one from Orvis. The tartan pattern works with nearly any outfit, from casual day hikes to morning commutes. Plus, the unique fabric blends all the best parts of merino wool with the cashmere, so it’s a performance-oriented scarf that’s buttery soft.

An Icebreaker T-shirt offers performance, and is a wardrobe foundation piece.

Icebreaker Men’s Merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve Tee

Classic cotton T-shirts are a wardrobe foundation, but they can start to look a little ragged before long. A merino wool shirt, on the other hand, will look great for a long time, particularly if you take a few extra steps to care for 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. This is also a great choice for a merino wool base layer.

Woolly Clothing Men's Merino Wool Rugby Polo will add miles to your wardrobe.
Wholly Clothing

Woolly Clothing Men’s Merino Wool Rugby Polo

A fine-knit merino polo shirt adds miles to your wardrobe. It’s a classic, tasteful 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 when you might be moving from winter’s chill outside into an overly heated office space. This Rugby Polo from Woolly Clothing fits the bill perfectly.

This denim shirt from Wool & Prince is a comfortable blend of cotton and merino wool.
Wool & Prince

Wool & Prince Denim Shirt

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 Western nod 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.

Smartwool Men's Smartloft 60 Vest is ultralight, but ready to shed snow and rain.

Smartwool Men’s Smartloft 60 Vest

We love the versatility of a lightweight vest. Smartwool’s Smartloft 60 Vest is an ideal mid-layer for everyday wear. It’s light enough to toss in your day bag and forget about it until you need it. But the mostly merino wool construction keeps you warm on all but the coldest days, while a DWR Finish helps shed snow and rain from the fabric’s surface. Two internal dump pockets, two zippered hand pockets, and a chest pocket (with a built-in media cord outlet) provide all the space you need for stashing your everyday carry.

Man wearing TREW Gear Lightweight Nuyarn Chill Top

TREW Gear Lightweight Nuyarn Chill Top

TREW believes that if you have a positive experience sliding down a mountain on one or two pieces of wood strapped to your feet, then you will be a more staunch protector of the environment and simply a better person in your community. So, it endeavors to make your trips enjoyable with the best gear on the market. That includes this nuyarn merino top. Nuyarn is 5 times faster drying than spun merino, and the fact that this works like a ninja hood just makes it even cooler.

Ibex Men’s Woolies 2 Base layer is an everyday winter staple

Ibex Men’s Woolies 2 Base Layer

Everything starts with a good base layer, and there’s no base layer like merino wool. For all the reasons listed above, it’s hands-down the best fabric for its next-to-skin warmth, comfort, and moisture-wicking capabilities. The Ibex Woolies 2 bottoms are designed as an everyday winter staple with a solid 240 gsm weight to keep you nice and toasty whether you’re cold-weather hiking, biking, or skiing. Pair it with the matching top (available in half-zip or crew) to create the perfect neck-to-ankles base layer set.

A Swiftwick Pursuit Seven Merino Wool Sock on gray background.

Swiftwick Pursuit Seven Merino Wool Socks

Where else could you use merino’s warming, wicking, and odor-fighting qualities? On your feet, of course! Swiftwick’s Pursuit Seven Merino Wool Socks are ultra warm in the winter (and cool in the summer), and they are the best at absorbing moisture and regulating temperature. The fine-gauge wool ensures itch-free wear with all-day comfort. With a classic sock height (around mid-calf), they’re ideal for everything from boardroom wear to post-work hikes.

Merino wool makes Allbirds shoes comfortable and sustainable.

Allbirds Men’s Trail Runners SWT

Yes, believe it or not, merino wool is suitable for every piece of apparel, up to and including sneakers. Allbirds’ Men’s Trail Runners SWT offer all the support and durability you’ll need for a quick run on the trail, but they’re so good looking that they may just become your everyday shoes. They’re made from sustainable materials, including a blend of our good ole merino, with all the benefits that it implies, made up into a sturdy ripstop fabric.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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