Outdoor gear companies are knitting wool—the original “tech” fabric—into smart, stylish, weatherproof performance apparel that’s perfect for spring.
Peter Koch 1 / 6
Yasu + Junko
Remember wool, that scratchy old sweater fabric made famous by Mr. Rogers? It’s been around forever, but right now it’s experiencing a rebirth, and outdoor- apparel makers are finally convincing athletes that the high-performance wool of today is much more than the coarse, clammy, itchy-as-hell stuff of yesteryear.
“The two key things that make it better are finer fibers and longer staples [fiber clusters],” says Timm Smith, brand marketing director for Colorado-based wool apparel company Voormi. “Companies are starting to unlock the full potential of wool.” The result: Next-generation mid-layers and stylish outerwear that outperform man-made synthetics in spring’s fickle hot-cold-wet-dry conditions.
The fibers are so fine—less than a third the diameter of a human hair—and long that the barbs can’t jab and irritate your skin. What’s more, they produce a lighter-weight fabric that regulates temperature on warm days, wicking moisture from your skin to the wool’s surface, where it quickly evaporates—as well as it does in the cold, with better breathability and naturally occurring, odor-eliminating antimicrobials.
There's more to this hoodie than its athletic cut and bar-friendly styling. A nylon-hardened wool outer makes it wind, water, and abrasion resistant, while a polyester and merino blend keeps the inside soft. It's perfect for spring skiing and, yes, après drinking. ($229, voormi.com)
This classic casual shirt uses a polyester flannel and merino blend that makes it warmer and more comfortable than cotton. Better yet, it doesn’t wrinkle and never stinks, even if you wear it for a week straight. ($90, marmot.com)
Don’t let slushy streets and spotty weather cramp your cycling style. This soft-shell features Climawool (a stretchy, weatherproof nylon-wool-spandex blend¬) and breathable wool paneling on the back and underarms for mobility. ($275, ibex.com)