Whether you’re in search of a versatile layering piece to wear on long hikes, as a baselayer under a work shirt or to help you stay warm and comfortable during the weekend, a long sleeve wool shirt is an excellent choice. This type of clothing offers a number of benefits, including the ability to keep you warm while wicking away excess moisture from your skin to help you feel dry and comfortable.
The best wool shirts are made from merino wool, which is a natural fiber that insulates you while promoting good health by reducing inflammation and eliminating odor-causing bacteria. They are also hypoallergenic and breathable, so you can use them without worry of irritation or itching.
Some shirts are 100% wool, while others use a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics for durability and recovery. Synthetics aren’t bad by themselves, but they don’t offer the same properties as wool, such as a natural antimicrobial and moisture-wicking capability.
A few brands make 100 percent wool tees, but they’re expensive. Many are priced at $50 to $80, which can be a bit high for an exercise tee, especially when you consider that you have to wash them often.
But you can get a long sleeve merino wool shirt tee for less by shopping around on Backcountry and REI (Black Friday and Cyber Monday are usually the best times to find the most discounts) or discount websites such as Steep & Cheap and Mountain Steals.
Most tees from brands like Arc’teryx, Smartwool, and Icebreaker are blends of natural and synthetic fabrics for durability and recoverability. But there are a few pure merino wool options that are worth considering as well.
Ibex’s 24 Hour Short Sleeve Crew is a great option for those looking for a wool tee that doesn’t skimp on performance. Its MECool fabric is designed to wick sweat and dry quickly, while a proprietary steaming process gives it a soft feel that makes it adaptable to a wider range of climates.
This tee is available in both men’s and women’s styles, as well as a tank version. The shirt is made from 18.5 micron merino wool and has no tag for enhanced comfort and a curved hem that can be tucked into your pants or jeans.
If you want to make sure you’re buying a truly sustainable shirt, look for brands that source their wool from responsibly managed farms or fair trade operations. Check the label for a logo that indicates the source and ask about the production method to ensure you’re getting an ethically produced product.
You may need to break in your tee by wearing it and washing it a few times, but the more you wear it, the softer it will become and the less itchy it will be. If you notice any itching, lanolize or treat with wool softener (Unicorn Beyond Soft/Fibre Rinse) to prevent it from happening again.
Whether you’re planning an epic hike or just looking for a versatile baselayer to wear under your work clothes, the best merino wool shirts are a must-have in any adventurer’s closet. We’ve tested a variety of options, from lightweight base layers to long-sleeve sun tees and everything in between.