Best Merino Wool Bicycle Clothing


Looking for something warm yet stylish to keep you cozy as you ride through the winter? Merino wool bicycle clothing is a savvy, sustainable choice. Merino wool is a miracle material. So comfortable you’ll want to wear it all day, and so warm it’ll make you rethink your entire wardrobe. From base layers and socks to jackets and hats, it’s the most sought-after material in all of the outdoor industry.

Let’s cut to the chase. This article breaks down all the important information about merino wool, including next-to-skin comfort, warmth, moisture-wicking capability, and odor protection. To sum it up: merino wool is incredibly expensive, but if you need its performance or value the luxury of it, it’s worth it.

What Exactly is Merino Wool?

Australia is known for producing fine wool called merino. It originates with Australian sheep, and it is very soft and fine, which makes it highly desirable all over the world. The finer the wool, the better it is. Sheep wool is usually around 40 micron — but merino is finer. It can be as fine as 24 microns, and below that.

Thanks to its outstanding warmth, moisture-wicking properties, and lack of itchiness that other heavy, wool items often have, Merino wool is ideal for athletic wear. Not only is it perfect for sweating profusely in, but it’s so versatile that you can wear it to watch television or go out on the town. This wool comes from New Zealand, Australia, South America, the United States, and other places where the world’s best wool and sheep live.

Yes, Merino can be Expensive!

With most merino wool bicycle clothing like shirts priced at about $100 and cycling socks around $20 to $30, considering the limited durability, this can be a compelling reason to consider a lower-quality synthetic alternative.

For example, good synthetic base layers cost between $50 and $80 (Craft Active Extreme 2.0) while comparable merino wool layers retail for $100 or more. The same goes for socks and underwear.

Craft Active Extreme 2.0

Merino Wool Bicycle Clothing - Craft Active Extreme 2.0

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One of the thinnest base layers out there, the Craft Active Extreme 2.0 is made of elastin and polyester. For many, it may not offer the warmth they desire in a base layer. However, it certainly helps in colder weather as well.

Back to the Merino wool, clothes made of it are not cheap. The occasional bargain can be found, but expect to pay at least 50% more for pure merino. However, the softness and comfort are worth the price for those who highly value it.

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Merino wool has one major flaw: it wears out quickly. In our case, it was worn out after a season or two. However, if you don’t wear merino wool on a daily basis like us, it can last four to five years.

However, merino wool socks prove resilient in a different way. Nylon, a durable material, is part of any sock design. But rather than nylon, merino wool socks require high-density knitting to create their structure. The SEALSKINZ All-Weather Sock is one of the evidence of merino wool’s durability. In fact, the company offers a lifetime guarantee with its products.

SEALSKINZ All-Weather Sock

SEALSKINZ All Weather Sock

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If you want a pair of warm merino wool cycling socks to ride in the cold winter but also need a weatherproof layer, these Sealskinz socks may be what you’re looking for.

Well, this is a very special piece. Similar to a hardshell jacket, it’s made up of three layers. The outer shell is hydrophilic and wind-repellent and the middle layer is just as warm as the woolen layers on the inside, which are comprised of 36% merino wool, 5% elastane, 18% polyester, 36% acrylic, 1% TPU, 4% nylon.

Washing your merino wool clothing in cold water and laying flat to dry (even if the tag says you can machine dry or dry clean) will extend the life and wear of your merino clothing. 

Odor Protection

When you use a natural material such as merino, you eliminate odors for good. Moisture is absorbed into the fibers of wool without providing the breeding ground for bacteria that lead to sweat-smell. This makes it a great choice for cycling and other sports.

The thing is that wool is naturally odor-resistant. You might think we’re crazy, but a wool shirt can go longer without washing than a synthetic shirt. Merino just doesn’t get smelly when worn for long periods of time, so you don’t need to worry about it for days on end.

When you’re going on a multi-day outdoor trip, adventure, or working out, it’s useful to have a base layer that you can wear for a few days rather than several outfits. Merino wool is fantastic for these occasions. It’s the only fiber that self-regulates and stays comfortably cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Check out this awesome merino base layer.

Icebreaker Merino Men’s 200 Oasis

Wool Bicycle Clothing - Icebreaker Merino Men's 200 Oasis

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This merino base layer is soft and non-itchy, and it will keep you warm without being too hot. Being awesome at moisture regulation and made of 100% merino wool, Oasis also dries quickly, so you won’t be just as stinky at the end of the day.

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Moisture Wicking and Breathability

Another thing you’ll benefit from merino wool bicycle clothing is that they stay dry when you sweat. That’s because the fabric absorbs moisture and moves it away from your skin, where it evaporates.

Merino wool is lauded for its exceptional moisture-wicking. It can capture and hold more moisture than other types of material. In turn, it keeps the wearer warmer in cool, dry conditions and cooler in hot, humid weather. 

Merino wool keeps you comfortable and dry — encouraging breathability. We’ve found that thin, lightweight merino wool clothing is best for this reason: Air passes through easily, allowing the fabrics to dry quickly.

100% merino performance fabrics that are heavy or mid-weight can be a bit muggy when you work out hard. However, they are just as good as high-end synthetic fabrics such as polyester and perform just as well.

John Set Base Layer Top and Bottom

John Set Base Layer Top and Bottom

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Owning various temperatures of base layers is a nuisance. They’re all made from poly/poly blends and you’re always forced to compromise. The answer? Go natural, in 100% merino wool with the John Set Base Layer Top and Bottom that provides excellent moisture-wicking and breathability. There’s no need to compromise anymore!

These have a 260g/m2 weight and yes, it is thick. The top is as warm as a mid-weight flannel. It is much more versatile, however, in that it is much more breathable. It makes a world of difference in the three layers system. You can easily regulate your temperature even when active or resting outdoors between temperatures in the low thirties and forties.

It’s a regular fit. The waist and arms have room but the bottom is tight with an elastic band. It stretches a bit but if you need more room at the waist, we suggest ordering one size up.

Temperature Management

Merino wool is popular because it’s both warm and lightweight. Naturally, the fiber traps heat better than a synthetic garment of the same weight, but merino is also good in the heat. It regulates your body temperature with each breath.

While it’s a fantastic summer material, merino wool is also an excellent winter material. It’s comfortable in a range of temperatures, so you can wear merino wool for cycling, running, hiking, and pretty much any other outdoor pursuit in all four seasons. In the morning, this natural fiber will keep you warm but not cold, ventilated but not sweaty.

And thanks to merino wool’s warmth when wet, if you step in a creek during your hike, your socks won’t become heavy and uncomfortable. The same goes for your base layer if you sweat during your bicycle ride or other physical activity. It will keep you warm and soft at all times.

Next-to-Skin Comfort

Merino wool is deeply rooted in the idea that wool is itchy and uncomfortable. That’s why we turn it on its head with a unique, ultra-soft fiber. Merino is not only soft against the skin, but it also lasts all day. We are confident you’ll love merino. It’s time to rethink the way you live in wool!

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And there’s also the softness and breathability of merino clothing that are what makes them distinct in their class. It improves warmth, moisture-wicking, and temperature regulation over cotton. Merino wool is a next-to-skin wonder!

Next Level Wool Bicycle Clothing 

At the highest level of performance, some brands are extending their horizons to include a blend of merino wool and synthetic fibers. Castelli’s Tee X20580 and PEARL IZUMI Cycling Jersey are two of the most advanced and impressive blends. Of these two, the Tee X20580 is unique — it combines Castelli’s polyester and merino wool in a stretchy design that is warm without being bulky.

$140 is a lot of money to spend on a long sleeve, but having no odor when cycling is worth it. The Tee X20580 offers a fit and performance unmatched by all other merino long sleeves on the market.

Castelli Tee X20580

Castelli Men's Wool Long Sleeve Tee

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While merino wool has excellent thermal properties, it tends to break down quickly compared to synthetic fibers. To combat this issue, the PEARL IZUMI PRO Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey wove nylon around its merino wool fibers. The result is a warm long sleeve jersey that’s ideal for high-output activities in cold weather. 

PEARL IZUMI PRO Merino Thermal Cycling Jersey

Merino Wool Bicycle Clothing - PEARL IZUMI PRO Merino Thermal Cycling Jersey

Check it out on Amazon.

While more expensive than synthetic jerseys, this performance long sleeve jersey is worth every penny because of its excellent performance and durability.


Merino wool bicycle clothing is an all-natural alternative to synthetics. It is a bit more expensive, but much longer-lasting and less likely to smell – reducing the number of times you need to change into fresh clothes.

Elitist consumers will enjoy the next-to-skin warmth of merino for daily use as much as they will during a summit push. The warm fabric is just as enjoyable in real life as it is on your social media feed. Clothing made of merino wool appeals more to outdoors enthusiasts, but fashion-focused consumers will love them just as much!

If you’re going to use it as winter cycling clothing, be aware that once you start using it, holes will occur and the gear will fray. However, we’ve got your back: we’ve reviewed some of the best cold-weather bicycle gear available.

So which merino wool bicycle clothing above caught your attention? Let us know in the comments.


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By Marco

Marco is an avid cyclist and passionate blogger. He takes great pride in sharing his insights and experiences with the cycling community, hoping to inspire others to take up the sport and enjoy its many benefits. His words are an ode to the joys of cycling, and the exhilaration it brings.

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