Wool under dry-suit wear.

I usually wear smartwool under my drysuit. I love it, but I’m not crazy about its durability. After about a year of pretty consistent two or three times a week use, I’ve developed quite a collection of holes in both the pants and the top.

My questions are: 1) Should I just consider this a consumable and realize they’ll have to be replaced every couple of years? 2) Am I doing something or not doing something that would make a difference? and 3) Is the new Patagonia wool any more durable?

I’d love to hear from other wool-under-drysuit wearers.

Good luck with…
…Icebreaker. It took me a while to come around to wool but how nice it is to not stink and the comfort range seems greater to me than with synthetic.

No holes with mine or problems with durability…yet…

I have used ice breakers on a regular

– Last Updated: Sep-23-07 6:17 AM EST –

basis for the past 3 years and I have not experienced any problems with the tops or bottoms developing holes in them. Very happy having made the switch from polypro to wool. And chodups is so right about the wool not developing a stink.

I, too, am a big fan of the Icebreaker stuff; it is surprisingly durable and certainly is comfortable. When things get really cold (especially in situations where I know I’m likely to sweat a lot) I add a base layer of Patagonia silkweight capilene. This combination has proven to be bombproof for both me and my wife in some very nasty winter paddling adventures.

Smartwool not as durable

– Last Updated: Sep-23-07 8:37 PM EST –

Another vote for Icebreaker base layers. I am a huge fan of Ibex merino mid and outer layers.

Instead of Smartwool socks, Everyone should run out and buy Teko socks. Much much more durable and more comfortable too.

same Icebreaker for 5 years :slight_smile:
no holes, no stink, just comfort. Patagonia stuff is not better, just made by a bigger company.

I have used Icebreaker, Patagonia, Ibex, Smartwool, and a few others. IMO Icebreaker is the best, followed by Ibex, a few others in the middle, and Patagonia / Smartwool tie for last place.

Another Vote for Icebreaker
Use the stuff a lot, holds up well. Always cold wash it (sometimes have to send it through twice to get the funk out after long trips) and let it line dry. I had the Icebreaker Merino boxers, and they rocked, but did wear out after like 100 days in the field. I guess I got my moneys worth out of them though…


Patagonia and Ibex
My beautiful, expensive Patagonia wool zip-top just developed its first small hole, after a year of careful use. Not happy about this.

Ibex, in my experience, has the worst history of durability. It seems to be worse for multi-color garments, and best for solid black. I don’t know if that makes scientific sense; could just be a coincidence.

– Mark

what are you guys eating?
Funk? Not here.

OK, seriously, I love the smartwool stuff but have the same concerns about durability. I also use hot chilis for colder weather protection but they were a gift (and they gather the smells just like the other synthetics).

For warmer weather I started using the silk weights like someone else mentioned, love 'em and they don’t seem to stink. Holding up ok also.

But I’m going to check out icebreakers.

Do these new wools really not itch? Smartwool socks give me a horrible rash around the shins, so even though I like them, I can’t wear them for serious hiking. I’d like to try an icebreaker shirt, but even normal tags on clothes make my skin raw and itchy–so I’m afraid there isn’t a wool out there that won’t do the same. Are there other sensitive skin types out there that have found true love and happiness with icebreaker?

Yeah, Smartwool hasn’t impressed me
Seems like every time I wear a pair of them, I end up pulling whisps of abraded wool off, and I have a lighter pair for summer wear, that after less than a year, I can already see through the knit by the Achilles tendon.

Are you allergic to wool?

– Last Updated: Sep-26-07 12:37 PM EST –

I am not allergic to wool, but I am one of those people who cannot stand itchy, scratchy wool clothes (I also tear the tags out of all my shirts), yet, I do find the smartwool socks very comfortable, just not very durable.

You may have an allergy to wool.

not wool, the oil
No one is allergic to wool. People are allergic to Lanolin, the oil on wool. Some skins are too sensitive for the shorter fibers of wool versus the long fibers of synthetics.

When looking at wool, the word Merino is important. It actually refers to a breed of sheep from Italy but was coined to mean any sheep producing a finer, longer hair. Most manufactures are getting their Merino from New Zealand now. Check the micron of the fiber. The lower the micron the thinner the fiber. Thick, short fibers in traditional wool tend to be pokey and come from sheep that live in places like Iowa. Icebreaker uses 17 micron merino which is some of the industries finest. Smartwool uses 19 micron.