Travel Wool: on/off the bike

Technical wool from Ibex, Teko, et al is growing in popularity. I noticed this by what I’m wearing, hearing in the industry, and just spotted racks of wool clothes at REI yesterday; including new offerings from Arc’Teryx and Icebreaker.


I’m traveling most of October – Italy, Vegas, Taipei, Monterey – and wearing an 09 sample Shak Jersey, wool liners, briefs, beanie, and Teko socks. The Shak travels well because of what wool does; especially on a 12 hour plane ride and “freezing-ass cold” Fall weather in Amsterdam. It performs on and off the bike, across temperatures, and climates. It’s comfortable, breathable, doesn’t smell, and increasingly stylish.

Bici Hugger alla Toscana: Hincapie Signature Pam and I also wore Hincapie’s Spring 09 Wool Jerseys while riding in Tuscany and the material performed very well.

As much as I like this new wool, I wish the product designers would redesign the pockets. They possibly either don’t spend much time riding in their gear or there are some limits on pocket engineering, cause you can barely fit a bar into them, much less arm warmers or a shell. The Shak Jersey oddly requires two hands to open and close the pockets.



Racks of Wool @ REI Earlier this year, on a tip from our friends at Ibex (I demanded they make socks, they refused). I discovering Teko, and they’ve become my favorite sock. While they don’t have a pill for it yet, I’ve got hot feet syndrome and Teko is the most comfortable sock I’ve found. I used to wear SmartWool and they make good stuff, but their socks always wore out in the heel. Teko has lots of tech going into their socks – seams, mixed materials, recycled materials, and more. What I know is I can comfortably wear their socks all day long.

Après Cycling

There was lots of talk at Interbike about Apres Cycling wear in 09. Comfortable, stylish cycling-related, off-the-bike clothes and wool is certainly a material in that category. I can step off the bike in my Shak and walk right into a meeting. Same thing with Bike to Work pants from Cordarounds.

What are you wearing

While I’m working on becoming Merino wool’s number one fan, I’d like to know what our readers are wearing? Are you wearing wool on/off the bike?

Mobile Social Portland Reception


I wear Ibex wool nearly constantly.  I always have their seamless briefs under my clothes.  I cycle in one of their jerseys and pants, or just wool running shorts and a top. 

I’m a little bit addicted to wearing wool.  It’s just so light, easy to wash, and comfy!  Not to mention that I think Ibex is a great ethical company, with their careful attention to labor standards and animal humane standards.

My opinion is a little biased, I suppose, because we carry Ibex in our online store,  But we did a lot of research and product tests before choosing a wool line, and Ibex came out on top in every case.

Have you worn out an Ibex liner? I have. The 17.5 wears out, but I can’t throw them away so then they become winter cycling jersey liners.

I wore an Icebreaker wool shirt my whole ride from SF to Seattle this past summer. It worked great in all conditions from fog to rain to heat. Not clammy like polyester and it dries super fast if you wash it then roll it up in a dry towel (it dries fast anyway). Worked great with a lightweight pair of wool knicker-style shorts.

I’m a big fan of Ibex…use their superfine baselayers year round.  I’ve been wearing my black shak VERY often over the last two years and it still looks as good as new with no fading or pilling.  I’ve actually worn it everyday this week!  Sometimes, I get off the bike at work and just change my riding knickers to a nice pair of khaki’s.  The black shak goes with everything.

My mother-in-law bought me a Icebreaker merino wool long sleeve zip-up baselayer when she was in New Zealand.  While the fabric and performance is similar, I really love how Ibex’s products are more of a trim fit.  The sleeves are longer and the torso isn’t so baggy, which contributes to a tailored look. 


I like my Portland Cyclewear Long Sleeve Jersey for the beautiful riding.  I can commute to work in comfort in the morning and then stop at the coffee shop on the way home and doing in style.  I really like IceBreaker wool tops too.  Comfy even on my trail runs.

Any and all wool makes me happy. I knit myself socks and just added some wooly earwarmers to my helmet (the handknit headband I made last year wasn’t quite right). I’m glad there are more wool cycling products out there because I have been trying to figure out how to replace my self-fashioned zip sweater that I washed too aggressively when the moths tried to ruin my life last winter.

What I am wearing now that’s commercially available: Swrve base layer wool shirt (so long!); Smart wool socks and tights (my favorite thing—wear to work daily); Smart Wool liners; an REI tank liner that I found one year but couldn’t find again.

I actually really need rain pants and can’t find them in the stores yet. (I’m almost always an in-person buyer-Swrve was very adventuresome for me). I was considering wearing the wooly tights under bike tights, but still need some water resistance. Recommendations for wimpy cyclists like me—ride in bike gear the 5 miles to work, would like to be less damp than I was last night—would be appreciated.


I’m from New Zealand.  We’ve been wearing wool for years.  I’ve got about half a dozen icebreaker tops and a couple of Norsewear ones.  Highly recommended. 

Ironically, it’s actually quite hard to find wool cycling kit here.  Mainly, you have to go for general “outdoor sport” stuff and go with that.

Look at (a Canadian REI) for good house-brand merino at great prices.  Love merino, but won’t pay brand prices.

I also love an Ibex Shak for traveling—it’s snuggly when it needs to be, breathable when it needs to be, durable and stretchy, and keeps the 17-hours-travel-day smell at bay.

Also, not all merino is created equal—some of it is real junk that pills and develops holes (I don’t know anything about I don’t mind paying “brand prices” when the brand is attached to a well-made garment.

I really want someone like Ibex to start making knit garments with the same function but more stylish form.

I like hitting the local thrift stores here in Chicago and buying 70’s ski wool sweaters. Sometime w/ zip necks sometimes without. They look good, retro and keep me warm on my bike especially w/ a wind shell.

Swear by wool - did Mont Ventoux last weekend in a short sleeve wool jersey with armwarmers - perfect for the weather (cool) at the base and at the summit (really cold).  Just happened to have an IBEX wool hat in my pocket for when I got to the top and for the descent.  I find the IBEX stuff best for base layers (wore my IBEX long sleeve base layer for a 125 mile ride today in eastern MA) and accessories (hats, gloves, their awesome Loden mitts which are the best gloves for deep winter - period) and jackets (their softshell pieces). I find that their jersey pockets tend to sag more than I want - while I love the 100% merino, it’s not super great for pocket stuff - I would recommend makers that utilize a wool blend (i.e. Rapha in the form of “sportwool”) for jerseys that have the functionality of regular lycra jerseys.  I agree with you - pretty much all of my base layers, and increasingly jerseys and winter jackets are now wool - have not taken the plunge into wool shorts - the ones that Kucharik are hawking look intriguing….I also like the fact that wool cycling garb is pretty versatile - no need to advertise when you’re just trying to get the job done….as for travel - can’t leave home without long sleeve wool shirt, IBEX shak etc. and the ultimate luxury - some super comfy cashmere socks for when the day is done and you’re watching bad Danish TV…

Earth, Wind & Rider’s hoodie keeps me warm.

Icebreaker’s design is horrible. Why would a company selling activewear put a seam right up the middle of the user’s palm? OW!

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