The Best Head-to-Toe Winter Wool Layers for Outdoor Performance

The Best Head-to-Toe Winter Wool Layers for Outdoor Performance

Wool clothing is not what it used to be. We are currently in a renaissance of the rough stuff—though “itchy” and “frumpy” are descriptors of the wooly past. Thanks to technical manufacturer advances yielding more comfortable, easy-breathing blends as well as more creative designs, outdoor users are learning to appreciate the longevity and versatility of wool once again. Better options and increased demand means that more brands are now following the herd, returning to “nature’s renewable tech fabric.” Unless you are allergic, there is no longer a great reason to be sheepish about wearing wool. Best of all, a larger number of brands are offering more transparency about where their wool is sourced and their production practices.

From head to toe, you can wear wool without looking or feeling like a grandpa. There’s nothing wrong with grandpa, it’s just that with this new crop of high-performing, wool-based outerwear and baselayers, you will feel younger, look sharper and stay drier. Here are our picks for the best new active wool-wear to outfit you from top down for any outdoor adventure.


The Future of Wool is Here

Pendleton Outback Hat

Contemporary and classic, you can’t go wrong with anything made by Pendleton—hats, blankets, jackets, the list goes on. When it comes to finishing a look, or keeping heat in, a wool hat like Pendleton’s Outback will always keep shape (if you care for it properly) and its classic profile.
[$79, pendleton-usa.com]

Courtesy Pendleton

Ortovox Leone Jacket

Typically when people hear wool outerwear, they think of heavy overcoats. But those in the know might think of highly breathable jackets perfect for ski touring. Ortovox, longtime stalwarts of wool crafting, have been quietly making super functional wool technical pieces while synthetic trends come and go. Their Leone jacket is a versatile “leave on all day” layer and their new (for next season) wool Haute Route Pack is something we can’t wait to try. 
[$500, ortovox.com]

Courtesy Ortovox

Aether Deco jacket

The Aether Deco is not as lightweight as a standard-issue navy wool CPO (Chief Petty Officer) shirt but a little lighter than a thin down jacket—making it a perfect layering piece. As always, Aether has crafted a sophisticated garment that can be worn anywhere. 
[$375, aetherapparel.com]

 

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Aether Apparel

Mammut PL Pull Midlayer

This sweater, pullover, mid-weight baselayer—whatever you’d like to call it—is just down right luxe. Mammut’s Phase Weave, which is a combination of 60 percent merino wool with Schoeller, CLIMAYAN and a high-performance Polycolon fiber, creates a super-tight seamless construction that feels like it’s molding to your body. 
[$249, mammut.com]

 

Courtesy Mammut

Pelion Polo Shirt

If you aren’t playing golf in wool, or polo for that matter, you might want to start. A wool polo shirt? Absolutely, makes total sense. Lightweight wool will keep you drier and cooler than any cotton when the sun is blasting. Simple, yet well designed, of course Arc’teryx—one of the most advanced outdoor technical brands staffed with aesthetes—made the best polo.
[$105, arcteryx.com]

Courtesy Arcteryx

Duckworth Vapor Brief

Montana-based Duckworth is a one-stop shop. With its own sheep, it is the “world’s only source-verified, single-origin, Merino wool apparel company,” and with its special sauce of a non-chlorinated treatment to make wool soft, you can bet your bottoms won’t itch in these undies
[$40, duckworthco.com]

Courtesy Duckworth Co

Patagonia Capilene Air Bottoms

Patagonia’s Capilene Air bottoms are not your typical wool long johns. Made with a seamless, 3-D knit structure (think: waffle feel), these airy “thermals” are super breathable and quick-drying, and they don’t stink. 
[$64-129, patagonia.com]

 

Courtesy Patagonia

Icebreaker Persist Pants

Why buy cheap slacks made from some unknown material that will fade out and eventually end up in the giveaway pile—only to be in such bad shape they can’t be given away? Somewhere in between a hiking pant, a business casual trouser, and slim jeans is where Icebreaker’s Persist pants exist. Durable and slick: the calling card of modern wool. 
[$160, icebreaker.com]

Courtesy Icebreaker

Baabuk Sky Wooler Sneaker

Ethically sourced, naturally warm, breathable and water-resistant sneakers? Yep. From slippers to boots, and now sneakers, the Swiss brand Baabuk has been consistently making felt footwear since 2013. Its latest offering, the Sky Wooler, does not disappoint.
[$128, baabuk.com]

 

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Courtesy Baabuk

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