photo credit: Chronanor (http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=330456640&size=m)

It’s cold in Seattle right now. Not as cold as this, but cold in a windy drizzly Northwest kind of way. The 35-40 degree light rain gets in your bones and leaves you with a chill that won’t quit. We’re still out there riding every day and not suffering too much. We quickly figured out the right layering combo for this weather. We don’t go anywhere without our wool. Not the itchy scratchy irritating kind, but the soft (ahhh), not-at-all itchy Merino variety. Lucky for us, there’s a lot of it on the market right now.

We’ve been wearing polyproplene for years – great for outdoor pursuits – keeps you nice and dry in all sorts of activities. But the stink from polypro leaves something to be desired. You really can’t wear it more than once unless you really want to offend people.

Wool doesn’t stink.

Our love affair with wool began with Smartwool – it started with socks. Ahhh – they feel so good on your feet and stay dry which is important in any climate. So good that I wore through my first couple of pairs within a few months of receiving them. At first it was just the socks.

Then came some accessories from our friends at Ibex. My brother-in-law turned us on to Ibex – he drew my name for the Christmas gift exchange two years in a row (Shhh don’t tell anyone in my family the list was rigged) I got an Ibex hat the first year and a scarf the next. They are both great – so warm and so not at all itchy. He bought me the hat with the tassle because he thought that would prevent Tim from stealing it from me. Little did he know, Tim is comfortable with his masculinity and really doesn’t care if he wears a hat with a tassle.

I went to the next level this year and got Tim an Ibex Woolies Crew. He loved it. In fact, he loved it so much, he wore it day and night for a week. Every day he made me do the sniff test. He’d ask, “Do I stink”? I’d reply, “No” and give him reason to wear it again. What was I thinking? But it really didn’t stink so I guess it really didn’t matter.

That purchase opened the floodgates. We tried several wool baselayers – Patagonia, Terramar and Icebreaker. Once we discovered wool, we noticed everyone was making it. Tim was determined to find the best wool baselayer on the market. So far, our favorite has been Icebreaker skin 200 and the Patagonia Wool 2. Tim is 6’6″ and has really long arms. He has a hard time finding shirts with long enough sleeves. Icebreaker was different – the sleeves are perfect. And the shirts have a nice cut with the right amount of stretch so you can wear them under all kinds of shirts. These and the Patagonia are worth every penny.

A bonus is that Sierra Trading Post often stocks Icebreaker, making a wool good deal even be better.

Now if someone would start making Merino Wool sports bras, I’d be in business.

– Anne

7 responses to “Wool

  1. I hope it is ethically-produced wool (Howies’ merino is, and I’m pretty sure Patagonia’s is). Merino wool production can be rather unpleasant; google ‘mulesing’ for more info

  2. ibex makes a wool and spandex sportsbra

  3. Susancyclist is right — not sure how I never noticed it (and we can skip the questions on why Tim is shopping for bras)

  4. Hi M.O.D. Thanks for the comment!

    It looks like all of our faves (Patagonia, Ibex, Smartwool and Icebreaker are covered). Here’s a blog post on the Ibex site about the mulesing subject.

    From that post: “Now, three million fine wool merinos in New Zealand have been selectively bred to have bare breeches.”

  5. Ha, small world. I recognize your bro-in-law from my days of racing (up until three or four seasons ago when the kids came along.)

  6. Smudgemo – Funny. He has a pretty distinct mug so it’s probably the same guy.

  7. Smudgemo: he and you both seemingly have piles of old Steelman’s laying about.

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