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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 09-06-07, 09:34 AM   #1
doco
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Smartwool Brand

Has anybody used Smartwool products? I need some new long underwear for winter rides and have decided on spending the bucks to get some good quality merino wool.

Any recommendations on good quality wool?

Is wool really that much nicer than the smelly synthetics I have been wearing??

thanks
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Old 09-06-07, 09:42 AM   #2
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Wool rocks.

Smartwool products are great, but there are also other options when it comes to merino wool.

Patagonia, Ibex and Icebreaker make utterly superlative products, Icebreakers' being a bit more hiply styled without losing any technical features. Also pricey, import from New Zealand. Ibex is also spendy but top-notch. I believe that inexpensive merino wool is also offered by places like campmor.com.

Everyone seems different in terms of itchiness. I never find any merino wool products itchy, others do until the first wash, others still always find them itchy (the latter seem rare).

Mostly what you need to look for is the weight in grams/square meter. 140-190 are useful for summer pursuits; above that you're looking at cooler temperature use. Wool gets heavy when wet, but insulates when wet (just like synthetics), and they really do not hold odor like synthetics.

I own four Icebreaker tops, two Smartwool tops, and one Patagonia Wool2 top - wouldn't own that much wool if it didn't perform. I still find that on the hottest of the hot days, though, the lightest weight wool is still too much and I switch to ultralight synthetics so they can wick faster and so that the wind can penetrate for cooling.

YMMV, but that's my experience. Hope this helps.
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Old 09-06-07, 10:27 AM   #3
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wow!!! thanks for the feedback, I was looking over at campmor this morning...thanks for the help narrowing down the choices...
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Old 09-07-07, 01:13 AM   #4
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I really like Smartwool socks.
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Old 09-07-07, 04:45 AM   #5
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Last year I cycled all winter long here in NE Ohio. I could not do it without my merino wool baselayers. Merino wool is not itchy. When we have a long ride w/a lunch stop, I change my baselayer to a dry one to prevent that chilly feeling when starting to ride again. I learned that tip from an experienced cyclist friend.

The only thing about wool base layers is that it can get expensive. Decent base layers can be had at Goodwill or Salvation Army for much, much cheaper than the designated "outdoor" clothing from the likes of patagonia, etc. Rummage through the sweater rack and grab anything that says 100% merino wool. You don't have to look at the tags, you can tell which are wool just by looking and feeling.

Those cheap merino wool sweaters work just as good as the expensive brand names.It's a base layer under your jersey, so who cares?

I did blow the cobwebs off my wallet for an Ibex switchback jacket which I love and live in as much as possible all winter. I got it on sale at sierra trading post, still it was pretty spendy.

Smartwool is AWESOME in every way. I love my smartwool socks, also from sierra trading, they are the best for keeping the tootsies warm in cool weather. The thinner ones are nice for summer, too, because of the wicking properties they keep your feet cool and dry.
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Old 09-07-07, 06:59 AM   #6
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Another thumbs on from me on Smartwool and Ibex products. Everyone is different but Smartwool is more true to size regarding fit albeit Ibex has a better selection overall. First layer wise, I prefer merino wool over almost anything.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:26 AM   #7
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SmartWool is the only thing in my base layer. I have the jersey, tights,and socks. Love them, love them, love them. Soft, warm, and they take the moisture away better than anything else I've tried. Hang them up and they're dry in an hour or two, ready for the next ride. They don't retain odor either.

In case you didn't get it, I like the stuff.
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Old 09-11-07, 12:26 PM   #8
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thanks everyone for the help, just ordered tops, bottoms and socks..with the new nokians, I am all set for the snow........
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