For several years I have relied on SmartWool’s Merino Wool layers to provide winter warmth. I am not an avid winter sports girl, in fact, I can barely stand being outside for an hour in the dead of winter. I am paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury. One of the side effects of my injury is that I get cold easily. In fact, I can be cold even when my body is truly warm. I know it sounds like an oxymoron but you just have to live the life of someone with a high level spinal cord injury to understand. Starting in October I count the months until April and cherish each warm day. In September, I brace myself for the blowing of cold winds and prepare for the winter chill – even in my moderate southeastern U.S. climate.
I’ve searched high and low for every kind of heater, warm weather gear and warmth gimmick, and I seriously don’t care much about the electric bills in the winter. I’d rather sacrifice other things to keep warm. Once the air dries out and the temperatures drop there is nearly a constant background noise in my head whispering, ” I’m cold”. It can be a rather annoying.
I discovered my favorite find for cool weather clothing a few years ago when I read an article about how wool keeps you warmer than synthetics and why wool is such a great fabric.
People say it’s itchy, but they haven’t experienced fine merino wool made by companies like SmartWool, Icebreaker and Ibex.
I wear wool all year. In the heat of the summer I have a couple lightweight wool tee shirts that I use as the perfect shirt. It keeps me comfortable in the air conditioner and cool outside in the heat.
The Pros and Cons of high quality merino wool
- Warm: It is by far the best solution I have found to keep warm! In the winter I always layer with a lightweight SmartWool or Icebreaker shirt and add a mid-weight merino wool top over that. I consider these my base layer and then if needed I put on the sweater or shirt I plan to wear on the outside. I don’t do well with coats because they are binding on my arms, so this is what I wear all day inside and out with the exception of adding a vest occasionally.
- Odor resistant: Whether you perspire or not, this fabric is extremely odor resistant and does not need to be laundered often. I wear my shirts for a couple weeks at least… And I mean I wear the shirt underneath whatever I’m wearing for two weeks straight without washing it! It may sound gross, but I promise even if you perspire you will be surprised how long it takes before it smells!
- Soft: You’ll never know you’re wearing wool! This fabric feels a lot like cotton with stretch. It is very comfortable and soothing. I’ve been known to wear my lightweight wool to bed in the summer!
- Durable: These pieces do not wear out quickly. They are high quality and well made. If you have a few, you can wear them every day for multiple winters!
- Requires minimal care: Like I said above, you don’t need to launder them often. My recommendation is not to launder them unless needed. Give them the sniff test. They are machine washable and can go in the dryer! Sometimes I don’t put mine in the dryer and they will hold up better with fewer washes! I have, on occasion, taken a piece that is a couple years old to the cleaners to have them freshened up. The dry cleaners have a way with wool and can remove any pilling. For every day care I simply lay my shirts out at night! They can be folded or hung up for storage.
- Worth mending: Because I wear one of three light weight shirts next to my skin all winter I have taken a couple to the dry cleaners to mend an elbow hole. I’m always leaning on my elbow!
- Temperature regulating: Choose the right weight and they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Limited selection of color and styles.
- Price: Find a sale! I buy most of my merino wool on sale. At first I paid full price for a couple pieces, but now that I know I love the product, I buy on sale and clearance! I often get it as gifts! There is nothing like a great pair of warm wool socks for any cold nature friend! Price is probably the reason every cold natured person doesn’t buy high quality merino wool. Full-price for a lightweight item like a long sleeved shirt is $70-90. A mid weight ¾ zip shirt can run $90-120. A wonderful pair of socks can run $25-30.
If you are not convinced to make an investment in high quality merino wool clothing, treat yourself to a pair of SmartWool socks, then decide on your next piece.
Stay warm and share your tips for beating the cold below.