Okay, we know it sounds bizarre, but wool does not need to live solely in your cozy sweater drawer this season. You can actually work out in it—at least the merino variety—and it may even outperform the Lycra you’re used to.
“Merino wool keeps you cool while you work out because it transports the moisture from your body away from the skin,” explains Whitney DeBree, a rep for New Zealand brand Icebreaker, which has been making activewear with the fabric since 1994. And get this: after you cool down (or if it’s a particularly freezing day for a run), DeBree says it will also keep you warm, by absorbing moisture from the environment and locking it in tiny air pockets that trap body heat.
It’s kind of like you’re wearing a body temperature regulation system, with one more bonus feature: “Merino wool is naturally anti-microbial, which means the bacteria that causes odor isn’t going to bind to the fiber, so you won’t smell,” she says. And guess what? It also doesn’t itch, which surprised me on a sweaty test-run, and it felt super breathable compared to synthetics.
Because of all of this, lots of fitness apparel brands are now following Icebreaker’s lead and tapping the fabric, like fashion-forward brands Vie Active and Mover and more outdoorsy lines like Minus33 and Smartwool.
We found the coolest pieces in the category to bring you these four active ways to wear merino—none of which include scarves, hats, gloves, or cardigans. —Jamie McKillop
(Photo: Vie Active)
You’ll be surprised by how quickly these tanks dry after spin class, which is ideal for preventing skin irritation and for jetting to an appointment after a fitness class that doesn’t come with a shower.
(Photos: Icebreaker, Vie Active, Vielet)
Layering with long-sleeve merino wool shirts on cold-weather runs will keep you warm as you warm up and cool as you cool down.
(Photos: Vielet, Ibex)
Sports bras and underwear are usually the sweatiest article of clothing after a workout. These merino wool intimates let your most sensitive areas breathe.
(Photos: Mover for Net-A-Porter, Minus33)
Combat the wind-chill in leggings that won’t leave you overheated once you’re inside sweating through intervals.
(Photos: Icebreaker, Smartwool, Ibex)