Few gear categories get as much wear as wool t-shirts. With four-season potential including summer use as a solo layer, wool-based tees trump cotton in performance and lasting value. Join us for a test wear to find at least one that fits.
Five factors all Active Junky picks carry with each model excelling at one
Fit: Pairs athletic styling and full freedom of movement
Comfort: Considers fabric softness, feel when damp from activity and seam abrasion
Durability: Combines pull- and pill-resistance along with longevity over numerous washing cycles
Style: Focuses on the tee’s look as a standalone piece
Value: Brings performance across activities and seasons to the forefront – including casual wear
Duckworth Men’s Vapor Tee
This brand’s turned the obvious into the extraordinary without flash or lots of cash required. As with a meritage wine that stirs good stuff together for a superior outcome, Duckworth has mastered the art of blending. Start with family-raised Helle Ramouillet fine merino. Mix in 50% recycled polyester and 12% Modal for wicking, shape retention and durability. Buy at least two to prevent Vapor from vanishing off your body when one’s in the wash.
Best For: Everybody, everywhere, no kidding.
Key Attribute: Comfort
super.natural Base Tee 140
Form-fitting for trimmer athletes, BT140 mixes wool and poly with beautiful, longwearing results. Sized for action on land and water, this tee musters construction methods and details found in top-end models. Newcomers to the brand will be shocked at the range of style options; Base Tee is an ideal entry point to high-end performance. Flatlock seams rank at the top, as do the set-in sleeves.
Best For: Aerobic pursuits more than casual wear
Key Attribute: Durability
Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight T-Shirt
Here’s a chance to get past the brand’s amazing pure poly legacy to touch the Earth in a new way. Combining merino with synthetics, Silkweight travels past ordinary tees with a breezy, soft build. Stink fighting, long and well tailored, this tee pushes hard on paddles and pitches alike. Arm movement is easy while temperature regulation carries the day even during afternoon runs; colorways range from stealth to standout.
Best For: Adding to your Patagonia collection, expanding your active wardrobe
Key Attribute: Fit
SmartWool Men’s NTS Micro 150 Tee
Between easy comfort and hard-core performance is the NTS Micro 150, pushing hard in the adrenaline category as an all-seasons base layer. More generous volume in the body promotes hot weather breathability and relaxed wearing year-round – minus the sloppiness. Jersey knit, UPF 30 100% merino is a steal at the price. Active Junky wears it both out and under with equally solid results.
Best For: Four-season acumen, anytime travel
Key Attribute: Value
Icebreaker Sphere Crew
Four days of bikepacking, no downtime for washing. Sphere dominated desert heat and cool nights, quick to dry when sweat and rain intruded. After a 140+ mile test trip, coffee stains and mud souvenirs vanished in the wash as urban wearing took over. Mostly merino with integrated Tencel and nylon, this tee is lighter and more agile than previous Icebreaker models tested.
Best For: Weeklong domestic and international adventure
Key Attribute: Comfort
Ibex Seventeen.5 Tee
For resilient softness and pure Merino luxury, Ibex stands apart. This Investment Grade piece got battered in Chile and stretched hard in Colorado without losing form. This one brings fine needle detailing, a rib-knit collar and well-conceived yoke that own the trail, mountain or fashion runaway. Elegant without being self-serious, Seventeen.5 takes New Zealand fine wool and weaving to a world rich in possibilities.
Best For: Getting serious about tees as an adventure travel essential
Key Attribute: Style