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Wool is a miracle fabric up until it absorbs a certain level of moisture. Polyester doesn't absorb water which is one reason hi-tech fibers will tend to pass moisture through the fabric. However, cycling can often generate enough heat and sweat to overwhelm any fabric.

I've been using merino wool as base layer under polyester, and vice- versa. Wondering whether the polyester will draw moisture from the wool if it is on outside, or whether the moisture absorbtion of wool will help keep the polyester dry.

Is there any consensus on how to layer these two materials? FWIW, I have a duofold wool/polyester knit to that is wool on the outside and a mix of wool/polyester on the inside.
 

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I'm not sure what you mean about wool being a miracle fabric until absorbing a certain level of moisture. Wool has always been used for many outdoor activities like hiking due to its ability to continue to provide insulation despite being wet. That being said, I do like synthetic materials as well. I usually use a synthetic as a base layer and use the wool over the top. I love my wool though. I just usually have a synthetic shirt on so when it gets warm I can remove the wool and just have the synthetic top on.
 

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Its best to use a technical fabric (woven polyester or slit-polypropylene) or even an underarmour under garment or base layer. The tech fabric will wick sweat both to the outside surface and also over a wider area. That will help you stay dry.

Wool has been used... forever... and is popular currently. It will help you stay warm. Loose dry layers are the trick to staying warm. Use garments with zippers that allow you to let in air to evaporate any built-up sweat. Always stay dry... as well as warm. Overly hot and wet will freeze you in the end.
 

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Having been born in the 50s and more or less gotten into various strenuous outdoor activities in the 70s and 80s, believe me, I've used wool a lot. But there's nothing that beats good synthetic base layers and heavier synthetic outer stuff (fleece, etc.) I have wool stuff, but rarely use it. I have one expensive marino base layer, but definitely prefer the feel and function of synthetics. If I were to use both, it would be synthetic under wool.
 

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I myself prefer wool. In the winter i wear wool everything under my work clothes. Socks, longjohns, longsleeve base layer, etc. I have smart wool caps and neck warmers for on and off the bike. I like things that I can dual purpose.

Synthetics tend to make me itch and stink quickly.
 

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I like merino wool socks, but for base layers something that wicks moisture away is preferable, at least for biking. I love merino wool base layers, but generally for hiking or snowshoeing or just to wear to stay warm. Wool keeps you warm when it's damp, but I like to dry off quicker when I sweat and wool is less wicking than a skin tight synthetic base layer. It makes a better second layer imho.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not sure what you mean about wool being a miracle fabric until absorbing a certain level of moisture.
The "miracle fabric" reference was something I saw once and accepted the point. Wool can absorb a certain amount of moisture without feeling wet and while maintaining insulation. But given enough water it will feel wet and cold.

But even the best wicking synthetics can get sopping wet on a humid day. I tend to overdress a littlle, or a lot, when it's cold and can be sopping wet when I get home. I've been doing better recently, perhaps because I have been including merino base layers. I also have synthetic jerseys to wear over or under the wool layers. A layer or two of merino base with a jersey on top has been working well. Often wear a windbreaker (under the jersey to prevent excess flapping). Trying to get some feedback as to which will be more comfortable. I've always been able to keep warm until I get inside to change clothes, so it hasn't been a critical issue.

FWIW, I'll check thrift shops for thin merino sweaters. Cheap, I don't find them irritating, and work well inside a windbreaker.
 

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........ I tend to overdress a littlle, or a lot, when it's cold and can be sopping wet when I get home. I've been doing better recently, perhaps because I have been including merino base layers. .......... Often wear a windbreaker (under the jersey to prevent excess flapping). Trying to get some feedback as to which will be more comfortable. I've always been able to keep warm until I get inside to change clothes, so it hasn't been a critical issue.
Wind-proof layers should be on the outside. Use the zippers to regulate airflow and evaporate moisture. Base layers should distribute moisture [AKA sweat].

As long as you don't break-down or become injured (or both) in severe cold while sweaty you'll likely be OK... I guess. But getting stuck wet in freezing temps can be deadly. I wouldn't practice the getting home wet stuff.... myself.

It would be better to learn to handle the climate and clothing the proper way. Remain more or less dry... and comfortably safe.
 

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The "miracle fabric" reference was something I saw once and accepted the point. Wool can absorb a certain amount of moisture without feeling wet and while maintaining insulation. But given enough water it will feel wet and cold.

But even the best wicking synthetics can get sopping wet on a humid day. I tend to overdress a littlle, or a lot,
I understand. I do generally use a thin synthetic shirt under everything. That way I can remove everything else when it gets too warm and be comfortable. I like the wool over top if it is cooler. Of course merino wool feels good against my skin.
 
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