- Buyer's Guide
Best Merino Wool T-Shirts for Men
If you’ve hung around here long enough, and spent any time with any of the Carryology crew at any of the events, you’ll know that there is one subject we all agree on and all love equally: merino wool. It’s common to see the Carryology team all decked out in their merino tees, comparing which is their favorite and why. Today, we’re looking at the best merino wool t-shirts for men.
What is merino wool?
Merino wool is grown only on Merino Sheep, almost exclusively in Australia (81% of the world’s ultrafine wool!) and New Zealand. Each sheep can produce up to five pounds of wool a year!
Why is it so good?
Where to begin? Versatility is arguably merino wool’s key strength. It naturally regulates temperature, meaning that you can use merino wool year-round. It’ll help keep you warm in the winter, and cooler in the summer. The natural crimps in the fiber trap heat in the winter and then act as a wicking aid in the summer. It is also antimicrobial, meaning it can go longer without washing, and thanks to the natural amino acids found in merino wool, it is odor resistant. Crucially, it is thinner and softer than traditional wool, meaning it has exceptional comfort next to skin. Being a natural material that is sustainably farmed and is biodegradable, it has a significantly lower environmental impact too. In fact, merino wool will usually biodegrade or compost after 12 to 18 months!
What to look out for
Just like winter down jackets, there are varying types of merino wool garments, particularly t-shirts. The biggest differentiation in merino wool is the micron, or diameter, of the wool. This micron measurement (one micron is equal to one-millionth of a meter and fiber length is recorded in millimeters) will help a manufacturer decide what to purchase and what to use the wool for.
For reference, the average micron of human hair is between 50 to 100 microns. Merino wool is less than 22 microns–this gives you a clue as to just how soft it is. We’re most likely to see fine micron merino wool in t-shirts, as opposed to medium and broad. This means they’ll have a micron of between 17 to 24, which you’ll often see in product descriptions. The lower the number, the softer or more “lightweight” a wool will be. The higher the number, it’s likely thicker and heavier for a sweater or similar.
Merino wool tees are more expensive than your standard cotton or polyester t-shirt, but one merino wool t-shirt can replace many in your wardrobe and your suitcase.
We’ve spent the last 18 months testing out merino tees all over the world, and these are the best we’ve found!
Let’s dive into the best merino wool t-shirts for men.
As the name suggests, this t-shirt is designed to keep you fresh even after three days in of constant wear. Made with 87% 16.5-micron merino wool from New Zealand and 13% nylon, you get all of merino’s great benefits paired with added durability from the nylon, meaning this tee will wash and wear well for many adventures to come. Great for travel, as a base layer, or simply an everyday tee, the Proof 72-Hour Merino Tee also comes in a wide choice of colorways so you can dial in your preferred styling. Taylor and I have travelled in these, we’ve slept in them, and we’ve partied in them. The proof fit is stylish but not restrictive and they’re one of the best all-rounders I’ve tested. You can also get the 72 hour tee in long sleeve, henley, and polo styles.
The classic fit and range of colorways make the Unbound Merino Wool Crew Neck T-Shirt a savvy and sustainable choice for any wardrobe. The wool is Woolmark® and RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) certified and sustainably sourced from Australia. Made with a 17.5-micron 100% merino wool jersey using WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified production, it’s a great wrinkle-resistant piece for travel that will help keep your packing and laundry requirements to a minimum. But it’s just as easy to wear every day, under a work shirt for a little added warmth, or while kicking back on the weekend. These crews are what we wore in New Zealand, they’re a little heavier than others on this list, but in a really good way. They feel robust, and they break in really nicely. We even wore our unbound merino crews when caving through glacial run off (yes, it was cold!) and within 10 minutes of leaving our underground lair, we were warm and dry again. You can also grab this tee in a V-neck version!
Mission Workshop’s Sector : MC ticks all the boxes you want out of a tee. Soft against the skin, durable enough for active use, and understated enough to move seamlessly from your local cafe to the hiking trails. The fabric uses 18.9-micron 190g/sm Australian merino wool with a nylon core, so you get odor resistance, moisture wicking, temperature regulation, and durability in one. Made in New York City, the tee comes in a choice of four colorways so you can add a bold pop to your wardrobe or keep things sleek and low-key depending on your personal tastes. Mission Workshop just nail it when it comes to style, it looks good, you feel good wearing it, and it pulls double duty with ease.
The folks at Outlier have spent years developing their expertise in fabrics and honed urban styling and it shows with pieces such as the Dreamweight Raw Cut Shortsleeve. The blend of 75% 16.5-micron merino wool and 25% nylon gives this tee the performance features of merino with the durability you want to confidently explore, not worrying about how your gear is going to hold up. Available in a choice of colorways that provide various UPF protection ratings, the t-shirt also features raw-cut edges at the sleeves, hem, and collar to reduce weight even further for added comfort on the go. When I first got my hands on this tee, I was astonished at how light it is. Perfect for warmer days as a standalone tee, it’s positively airy. The low slung neck is very comfortable, and it oozes effortless style, as you would expect from the Brooklyn based brand.
If you’re all about merino with a savvy technical touch, check out the Ibex Men’s 24 Hour Short Sleeve Crew. It features MECool fabric, which is 100% merino with a performance finish. A proprietary steaming process makes the fabric feel cooler to the touch, so it can adapt to a wider range of climates. The tee provides a regular fit with no tags to enhance wearer comfort and the curved hem comes in handy for tucking into pants or jeans. Plus with a range of colorways to choose from, you’re solid on the style here too. I find Ibex tee’s to land in the sweet spot fit wise, they were fitted, but not skin tight. I like to have a bit of give in my clothing from the cut first and the fabric second, particularly when being active. This tee will take on challenge after challenge.
KUIU have a reputation for tough and functional gear that will perform in the outdoors day in and day out. And there only strengthens this reputation. The long-sleeve shirt features Nuyarn Merino using a blend of 17.5-micron merino wool (70%) around a durable nylon core (30%). This creates a 120 g/m² fabric that’s lightweight but durable enough for demanding outdoor pursuits. The shirt has flat lock seams for increased comfort and also offers 50+ UPF sun protection. And with a range of colorways to choose from including camo prints, this is a versatile option for hunting, hiking, or as a base layer in colder weather. This has become my go-to “comfort” merino tee. It feels like it can take on anything you throw at it, while maintain gin and understated aesthetic. It has an awesome comfort factor and feels great next to your skin, whether wearing it as part of a layering system or on its own. If you’re a hunter, it comes in a range of camouflage patterns too, depending on your needs!
The Ibex Men’s Merino Tencel Long Sleeve Tee brings the added warmth and protection of long sleeves to your merino wardrobe, so you’re equally ready for cooler months and combatting the sun in warmer weather. Reinforcements at the neck and side seams help the shirt retain its shape and durability and these are teamed with a relaxed fit and no tags to increase comfort. And with a blend of 45% merino wool, 45% Tencel, and 10% nylon you get a savvy blend of performance features with added durability for living life on the go. I’ve hiked in this and I’ve worn it to dinner, round and round again. The casual styling of this tee fits into any wardrobe, and you’ll wonder how you’ve gone on so long without one.
Western Rise are experts in creating multifunctional apparel that straddles the everyday/travel divide. The StrongCore Merino Tee is a fine example of their approach to versatile, quality design. Key to the versatile nature of the tee is the fabric, which features a blend of 82% 18.5-micron top-capped merino wool, 12% nylon, and 6% spandex, offering the travel-friendly features of merino with added durability and four-way stretch. And since its classic style and cozy softness are easy to embrace in a range of day-to-day settings, there’s no reason this won’t become an everyday favorite too.
Digging the look and feel of MW’s Sector : MC but want some added warmth? They’ve got you covered with the Perimeter : MC, a long-sleeve alternative to their merino t-shirt. Like the tee, the Perimeter : MC is made in New York City and features an 18.9 micron 190g/sm Australian merino wool with a nylon core, so you merino’s awesome benefits with added durability for everyday, travel, and active use. Whether worn as a base layer under additional items or as a standalone shirt, this is a versatile piece for a range of uses, from hitting the gym to chilling on the weekend or taking in new sights on your travels.
If you’re looking for an extra luxurious touch in your tees, Outlier’s Ultrafine Merino Cut Two T-Shirt delivers. This t-shirt is constructed with Ultrapure Mackenzie Merino Jersey featuring a top-capped, tight spectrum,17.5-micron merino jersey. What does this mean? Well, micron numbers are often an average across a mix of different micron fibers (meaning a lot of the fibers in the material are thicker than the micron rating). Where the Mackenzie Blend differs is the fact that it is top-capped. This means the stated micron number references the maximum thickness that can be included in the blend, not the average. The tight spectrum blend also refers to the very low variance of fiber thicknesses in the material mix, resulting in a more stable fabric with a great hand feel. The t-shirt features a box cut with broad shoulders and a high neck and comes in a variety of colorways too.
Clean, comfy, and versatile, this V-neck tee is a grab-and-go staple for everything from morning runs to daily wear and travel adventures. The t-shirt uses 18.5-micron 100% merino wool in its construction, with a variety of low-key colorways that are easy to pair across a range of outfits. Casually classy and luxuriously soft, this tee is a great pick for those seeking quality, comfort, and easy style in one. Alchemy Equipment are one of the best in the game when it comes to crossover clothing, and this stylish shirt is the epitome of their design language. This is arguably the most stylish on our list, and I get compliments whenever I wear mine.
Low-key casual style, excellent handcrafted quality, and cozy performance are the name of the game with Reigning Champ’s Merino Jersey Long Sleeve. The shirt is made by hand in Canada using a blend of 93% merino wool and 7% elastane. And with thoughtful features such as flatlock seams, semi-raglan sleeves, and underarm and side gussets, this long-sleeve shirt is designed to keep you moving freely and comfortably throughout your day, wherever it might lead. It has become my favourite for travel, and I’ve worn this on multiple long haul flights and gone straight to work when I’ve landed. The heathered look is clean and can go with anything.
When you’re spending more money on clothing, you want to be sure that you’re investment is worthwhile. Merino Wool Tee’s are an easy way to elevate your style, streamline your travel, and carry better.