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For the love of Wool

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For the love of Wool

Old 01-27-20, 11:34 AM
  #1  
john m flores
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For the love of Wool

What wool gear - socks, jerseys, shorts, etc... - do you love and rely upon?


I swear by Darn Tough socks both on and off the bike; they've replaced my Smartwools.
I have a couple of 20+ year Pearl Izumi long sleeve wool tops that are are still used on the regular when the temps are 40-60F
DeMarchi short sleeve is thick and great from 50-75F
DHB shot sleeve is ultra thin and can be worn up to 90F and beyond
Chrome arm warmers and DeFeet Kneekers complete the collection
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Old 01-27-20, 11:44 AM
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I'd like it better if it was more affordable but find wool to be too expensive. Do rely on wool socks though, particularly when doing any form of touring since they do a great job of reducing foot odor and making the tent more tolerable. Besides that I do have a couple of older long sleeve jerseys but don't rely on them all that much, just something to wear when I remember that I have them. Main wool gear is some kilts which are great to toss on for changing into or out of cycling clothing and driving away in something comfortable.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:56 AM
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I got sold on wool 5 yrs ago or so. I have micro weights, mid weights and sweaters. I don't get cycling specific wear. While expensive getting a piece here and there as birthday or Christmas gift is more than adequate stock. Also will browse second hand consignments on occasion. I like that they are less smelly than synthetics, and dry faster than cotton.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:57 AM
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When I tour I take a pair of wool socks with me for chilly mornings/days and to wear around camp. That's it.

Forgot about my Rapha base layer.

Last edited by indyfabz; 01-27-20 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
I'd like it better if it was more affordable but find wool to be too expensive.
It's more expensive up-front, but more reasonable in the long-run since it needs to be laundered only infrequently (doesn't pick up body odor). And if you take care of it (gentle cycle with gentle detergent and air-drying) it lasts a long time.

It also helps to buy stuff on sale, and to buy garments with a little polyester blended in, as this makes the material sturdier without reducing it's other desirable properties.

To answer the OP's question: I pretty much live in Ibex woolens from fall through spring, and even wear some of the lightweight stuff in summer. (This is the old Ibex; the brand has now been relaunched with limited offerings.)

In cycling apparel, Rapha makes some nice wool-blend jerseys which, when purchased from their sale section, are reasonable values.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:18 PM
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Smartwool cycling and hiking socks. Best darn things I have used yet. Have a super thick wool sweater for winter months. Very warm, and sweat does not seem to affect insulation affect. Wind breaker goes over sweater and I am good down to 20 degrees. XC ski with it, too.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:20 PM
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Wool is my first choice for any clothes, not just for cycling. I get multi-packs of wool socks at Costco. I wear wool jackets from Johnson Woolen Mills. I wish I could find some worsted wool (that means whipcord, serge, "cavalry twill", etc) trousers made with a crotch gusset for cycling. Wool is great because it's the fastest-drying natural fiber.

Most of my wool clothes never get washed at all. It doesn't need to be washed, because it doesn't develop body odor. Within the past ten years, the only wool garments I've ever had to wash are the socks, and that process is only occasionally, and can easily be done at the bathroom sink. Without detergent, just rinse/squeeze well and then hang up to dry.

Last edited by Nyah; 01-27-20 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
Most of my wool clothes never get washed at all. It doesn't need to be washed, because it doesn't develop body odor. Within the past ten years, the only wool garments I've ever had to wash are the socks, and that process can easily be done at the bathroom sink. Without detergent, just rinse/squeeze well and then hang up to dry.
Just cause it doesn't smell doesn't mean it isn't dirty. After 12-15 wears even one of my kilts gets tossed in the laundry set to hand wash, cold water, just a touch of detergent. Keeps them from getting dingy and I usually press them once they've half dried.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:36 PM
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Wool may be relatively expensive to buy, but it lasts a long time if you treat it properly. I still wear Protogs wool jerseys and tights I bought back in the 70s. I've had to replace elastic and zippers over the years, but that cost is trivial compared to a new garment of any material.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:43 PM
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I have a bunch of the Kirkland wool hiking socks from Costco that I really like. For the price, they're absolutely excellent. I think I have one pair of DeFeet Woolie Boolie for winter cycling. I have a couple of merino base layers for hiking/cycling. I have one vintage jersey with World Champion stripes that's wool and the itchy kind. Aside from that, I have tons of nicer clothes that are wool. Some, such as the peacoat and top coat, I've worn cycling in a commuting sense.

I wouldn't mind merino cycling jerseys and the like if I knew more what kind of weather they were for and how they actually feel when riding. I know wool can be good for both hot and cold, but I'm curious as to the real differences. For most things, I want to use a lot of what I have for hiking to also commute. Groups rides and the like are where I'd ride with more cycling specific clothing.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:58 PM
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Wool is great stuff. So is silk. I've never been able to wear synthetics next to my body for more than about three hours before it starts to stink.

Wool should be washed because it loses some of its insulating qualities when dirty. Also dirty wool might attract moths.

I've been using Nikwax Woolwash with good results, but I wonder whether ordinary detergent or soap with vinegar might be just as good and cheaper. Rivendell sells something called Kookabara Woolwash, that has tea tree oil which they claim repels moths.

I have yet to wear out my Darn Tough socks to see if they will replace them if I do.
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Old 01-27-20, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Just cause it doesn't smell doesn't mean it isn't dirty. After 12-15 wears even one of my kilts gets tossed in the laundry set to hand wash, cold water, just a touch of detergent. Keeps them from getting dingy and I usually press them once they've half dried.
My oldest wool jacket is green and black plaid. The only "dinge" might be some contrasting color hair or pills picked up from some other garment but, those get removed by hand, not by washing. What you describe hasn't been my experience at all.
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Old 01-27-20, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Falkon View Post
I wouldn't mind merino cycling jerseys and the like if I knew more what kind of weather they were for and how they actually feel when riding. I know wool can be good for both hot and cold, but I'm curious as to the real differences.
Wool fabric comes in different weaves and thicknesses. Jerseys designed for cool weather riding will use a thicker, tighter weave, and warm weather jerseys a more open, thin weave.

I have a Protogs merino wool jersey in tee-shirt weight fabric that is quite comfortable even in hot weather, and it doesn't get soggy like a cotton tee-shirt.
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Old 01-27-20, 02:26 PM
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Another great thing about wool is that it still can insulate even when wet as opposed to cotton. The Appalachian Mountain Club has a slogan "cotton kills". It's an exaggeration, but a number of hikers in the Northeast have died from hypothermia dressed in cotton shirts and blue jeans that got wet.
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Old 01-27-20, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Just cause it doesn't smell doesn't mean it isn't dirty. After 12-15 wears even one of my kilts gets tossed in the laundry set to hand wash, cold water, just a touch of detergent. Keeps them from getting dingy and I usually press them once they've half dried.
Truth. I once wore the same heavy wool jersey for a couple dozen rides without washing it - hard, sweaty training rides. Didnt wash it at all. I ended up with a case of jock itch in my armpits. If you think jock itch is bad in your crotch, you should try it in your armpits. Big fun.
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Old 01-27-20, 03:52 PM
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Funny thing about
Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
wool is that it still can insulate even when wet.
Give me a synthetic base layer, and I've got to work really hard to get it soaked. Give me wool next to my skin, and it's like my commute this morning; chilly feet, chilly chest skin, and my wool jersey may dry before I leave work to day. (Or maybe not.) The coldest I've been on a bike were days where my wool tops got wet. Give me synthetic, please (at least after I get my moneys' worth out of the wool I already bought).
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Old 01-27-20, 04:23 PM
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Wool socks are awesome 👍
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Old 01-27-20, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Funny thing about Give me a synthetic base layer, and I've got to work really hard to get it soaked. Give me wool next to my skin, and it's like my commute this morning; chilly feet, chilly chest skin, and my wool jersey may dry before I leave work to day. (Or maybe not.) The coldest I've been on a bike were days where my wool tops got wet. Give me synthetic, please (at least after I get my moneys' worth out of the wool I already bought).
You have an ironic name sir.. given the topic and your predisposition toward wool.
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Old 01-27-20, 07:54 PM
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Wool is excellent; a fiber God designed to keep critters comfy. I wear it to work, my wife and I wear it on tour. We wash it in the machine on delicate with Woolite, hang dry. We have a hamper that we only use for wool, don't mix it with our other clothing. Used to mix it and figured we'd pick the wool out for special care until a sweater belonging to my wife came out of the wash looking like it belonged to a toddler.
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Old 01-27-20, 07:58 PM
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I got really into wool while doing very short commutes (too short to kit up for) in extreme cold. I use wool sweaters both as extra layers in extreme cold and as regular clothing at work.
I also like baselayers in various thicknesses for warmer cold weather, or even just under a short-sleeved jersey in moderate temperatures.

My wool balaclava is great (gets less gross than synthetic), and I have both thin and thick wool socks.

Despite the wonders of wool, anyone who says it doesn't smell hasn't met me. After a long ride - or giving a public lecture - the armpits of my 100% merino stuff smell like ferrets. The socks do okay, though!
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Old 01-27-20, 08:42 PM
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Just crashed and scraped a bunch of holes in one of my old Ibex jackets. The seamstress didn’t seem to think it was worth patching and said it would be expensive. There is just no explaining some things.
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Old 01-27-20, 08:53 PM
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Wool socks of course
Ibex shorts and knickers
Giro jersey that stays comfortable for long rides
Kucharik jersey that, while baggy, is good for nasty conditions
A few others that are a bit ichy
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Old 01-27-20, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
I'd like it better if it was more affordable but find wool to be too expensive.
I rarely if ever buy clothes at full price these days. And the wool gear that I buy last for years and is a natural fiber, which is something that I think about these days.
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Old 01-27-20, 09:38 PM
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Costco sells merino wool shirts for about $30 during the fall (at least in Canada). I've been stocking up over the years and own about 8....pretty much all I wear daily fall to spring. I just keep cycling through them, washing the whole lot occasionally. They are fairly light, do wear out, holes from belts or zippers...but can't beat the price and comfort.

I wear them cycling when it's cool and they work well and I'm always amazed at their ability to not stink. I've tried them when it's "too warm for sleeves" and they still work, don't overheat and keep the sun off the arms.

I have a mixed merino-synthetic base from Costco that works amazing as well for colder rides (that baselayer, with a merino and a windbreaker and I'm good to about 6C).
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Old 01-27-20, 09:45 PM
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When Performance closed I grabbed a couple pairs of wool cycling socks for cheap. I wish I had bought more. I like them so much that sometimes I wear them on non-ride days. When they were new they were almost impossible to get on past my heel - no stretch, but felt great once they were on. I also picked up a pair of Volar wool socks, at a bike swap meet, and like them very much too. I bought a new merino wool jersey a few years ago, and it feels nice, at first, but anything I carry in the rear pockets causes them to sag. At the end a ride, its a saggy mess.
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