Ask Kristin: Allergic to Wool

For long johns, there are plenty of polyester options. If it’s maximum warmth you’re after, look for higher lofted polyesters, with gridded channels that trap heat and accelerate wicking....
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For long johns, there are plenty of polyester options. If it’s maximum warmth you’re after, look for higher lofted polyesters, with gridded channels that trap heat and accelerate wicking....

Question:

Hi Kristin, You've said the best baselayers, socks, and some of the best insulating layers are wool. I'm allergic to wool (and sheep), and even "no itch" merino is itchy, especially when I'm sweating. What are good non-wool alternatives? Thanks!

Submitted by - Lauren - Potsdam, NY

Answer:

For long johns, there are plenty of polyester options. If it’s maximum warmth you’re after, look for higher lofted polyesters, with gridded channels that trap heat and accelerate wicking, like this one from Patagonia.

If you want something more in the midweight range, our testers loved this one from MontBell (and it’s half the price).

For socks, you’ve also got some synthetic options. First, you could go with a traditional wool sock, but pair it with a synthetic liner, like this one from Fox River. Many hikers a two-sock combo because it not only enhances wicking, it also reduces friction inside your boot to prevent blisters. Second, you cold go with an acrylic sock—Thorlo (thorlo.com)—makes good ones.