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The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023

From high-performance technical fleece to cushy après and style pieces, a reliable wool sweater makes a versatile staple in a guy’s winter wardrobe. We've tested and compiled the best styles available in 2023.

Young handsome man with beard wears traditional authentic blue wool knitted sweater with ornaments and red fisherman or sailor beanie hat, looks to horizon, pensative and thoughtful(Photo/BublikHaus)
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We used to associate wool sweaters with being trapped in itchy, sweaty, bulky hotboxes that we had to endure until our parents finally let us take them off. In the years since, weaving techniques and treatments have turned these wearable saunas into soft, breathable, premium garments.

Most wool varieties come from sheep (especially the lauded merino), but others come from goats, alpaca, and even the occasional muskox. Super-soft cashmere was once extremely expensive, but now many cashmere sweaters are priced to fit many budgets. For the outdoorsman, merino wool has sweat-wicking and quick-drying properties that rival synthetic materials. As a bonus, merino naturally limits odor.

Whether you’re looking for a gift for a loved one or some cozy self-love, there are many sweaters across a variety of price points that are perfect for any situation. We’ve endured dozens of hours of cozy testing to find the best options on this list. So get a fire going, pour a hot cup of cocoa, and check out our list of the best wool sweaters of 2023.

For more information about wool sweaters, check out our comparison chart, buyer’s guide, and FAQ at the end of this article.

The Best Wool Sweaters of 2023

Best Overall Wool Sweater

Pendleton Original Westerley Sweater


  • Style Full-zip cardigan
  • Material 100% lambswool
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Iconic vintage styling
  • Warm
  • Comfortable


  • Not ideal for technical use
Best Value Wool Sweater

icebreaker Cool-Lite Nova Sweatshirt


  • Style Pullover crew neck
  • Material 50% merino, 50% TENCEL
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Breathable
  • Sheds heat
  • Lightweight


  • Somewhat delicate
Best Cashmere Sweater

Patagonia Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater


  • Style Crewneck pullover
  • Material 95% recycled cashmere, 5% wool
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Fine, wonderfully soft texture
  • Good value for cashmere
  • Lightweight yet warm


  • A bit delicate
Best Cardigan

Fjallraven Ovik Zip Cardigan


  • Style High-neck zip cardigan
  • Material 100% wool
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Durable
  • Dries quickly
  • Versatile


  • Can feel a bit scratchy without an undershirt
Best Wool Sweater for Active Use

Kora Men’s Yardang Jersey


  • Style Half-zip high-neck fitted pullover
  • Material 70% merino, 30% yak wool
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • High-quality, ultra-fine wool
  • Suitable for high-output activity
  • Beautiful colors


  • Not the warmest
Best Hoodie

Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Fleece Hoodie


  • Style Pullover hoodie
  • Material 100% Alpaca wool
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Integrated hood adds versitility and sun protection
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Great for active use


  • Lacks a hood cinch
Best Full Zip

Ibex Shak Jacket


  • Style Full-zip sweater
  • Materials 100% merino
The Best Men’s Wool Sweaters of 2023


  • Warm for its weight
  • Classic simple styling
  • High-quality zippers


  • Expensive

Wool Sweater Comparison Chart

Pendleton Original Westerly Sweater$249Full-zip cardigan100% lambswool
Icebreaker Cool-Lite Nova Sweatshirt$150Pullover crew neck50% merino, 50% TENCEL
Patagonia Recycled Crewneck Sweater$199Pullover crew neck95% recycled cashmere, 5% wool 
Fjallraven Ovik Zip Cardigan$250High-neck zip cardigan100% wool
Kora Yardang Jersey$140Half-zip high neck fitted pullover70% merino, 30% yak wool
Appalachian Gear All-Paca Hoodie$165Hoodie100% alpaca fiber
Ibex Shak Jacket$260Full-zip sweater100% merino

Why You Should Trust Us

For this guide, we considered the most durable, highly acclaimed, well-constructed, and environmentally responsible styles. We’ve made sure to include options that will satisfy folks on all sorts of outdoor pursuits, from alpine first ascents to casual bike rides to work. Since the most stylish sweater may not be the best option for a chilly fall day of yard work, we’ve taken care to consider the best applications and limitations of each one.

On our quest to determine the top designs, our product testers donned these sweaters and jackets across all seasons, from snowy environments in the Rockies, to summer evening campfire hangs. The crew has used these jackets for urban commutes, rock climbing, backcountry skiing and splitboarding, bikepacking, and alpine skiing. The testers ranged from AIARE-certified backcountry venturers to lifelong recreationists.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Wool Sweater

There are many varieties of wool coming from a wide range of animals. This variety ensures that there are wools for myriad applications, but it also adds confusion when it comes to buying a sweater. We’ve taken a few of the most common (or interesting) wools and given them a brief look to give you an idea of which type is right for you.

The Pendleton Westerley Sweater offers a classic look and reliable comfort.


As its name suggests, lambswool comes from the first shearing of a young sheep. This usually takes place when the animal is around 7 months old. The resulting wool is exceptionally smooth and fine, resulting in a notably soft feel. This softness makes it ideal for next-to-skin uses, like hats and gloves. Its hypoallergenic properties and resistance to dust mites also make lambswool great for bedding. On this list, the Pendleton Westerly Sweater is made from 100% lambswool.

Merino Wool

Highly regarded for its breathability and sweat-wicking properties, merino wool is sheared from merino sheep. The fibers are very soft as well, which makes merino ideal for base layers and running apparel. This wool is also known for its ability to resist body odor, which makes it great for multiday trips and stage races.

Merino wool sweaters are often on the pricier side. This is due to the scouring process required to remove the grease in the material. This scouring entails washing the wool in chemicals to remove the grease, resulting in roughly half of the initial wool. On this list, the Ibex Shak Jacket is made from 100% merino.

Alpaca Wool

These South American camelids produce hollow fibers, which makes alpaca wool a great lightweight insulator. Not only is it lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool, but alpaca wool is also extremely soft. It’s comparable to cashmere in softness, but it’s quite a bit stronger. Alpaca’s excellent breathability and quick-drying properties make it an ideal material for insulative midlayers. On this list, the Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Hoodie is made from 100% Alpaca wool.

All-Paca Fleece Hoodie
Alpaca wool makes an unusual yet comfortable sweater.

Shetland Wool

Sheared from sheep from Scotland’s Shetland Islands, this wool is thicker and coarser than other wools. Shetland sheep live in a colder climate, which results in the unique properties of this wool. You can find this wool in tweeds and Fair Isle sweaters, like Pendleton’s Original Westerley.

Camel Hair

Most of this wool comes from Bactrian camels, which are generally found in Mongolia, China, and Russia. Rather than being sheared, it’s collected when the camels molt. The wool’s hollow fibers are finer and longer than sheep’s wool. This makes it about as soft as cashmere. Most often, the wool is kept in its natural color, a pleasing golden brown.


This wool is shorn from the undercoats of cashmere goats at the beginning of molting season. This undercoat yields exceptionally fine fibers and produces the super-soft sweaters and apparel cashmere is known for.

Cashmere is also known for its high price due to the low yield per goat. Because this wool is exclusively from the undercoat, a single sweater requires shearing several goats. On this list, the Patagonia Recycled Cashmere Crewneck is made from 95% cashmere.


Despite the name, Angora wool isn’t sheared from Angora goats. (Shearing Angora goats results in a material called mohair.) It comes from Angora rabbits, which is so cool we had to include it here.

These fibers are the lightest and warmest we’ve worn thanks to their smooth, hollow fibers. If you’ve ever petted a bunny, you’ll have an idea of how soft this is. But this softness comes with some caveats.

First, Angora sweaters are prone to matting and pilling, so Angora fiber is generally mixed with other fibers to enhance durability. Second, that fineness requires breeders to comb the rabbits daily. While it’s probably great for the rabbits and a job we’d gladly apply for, it adds to the wool’s substantial price.


What is the best wool for sweaters?

Because different wools have different properties, it all depends on what you want from your sweater. If softness is your priority, look to cashmere, mohair, Angora, and lambswool. If you’re looking for durability, look to Shetland wool and alpaca.

For athletic purposes, you’ll need wool that can manage heat and sweat. Alpaca and merino are both highly regarded for their ability to vent excess heat and dry quickly, which makes them ideal for running, hiking, and other activities. Additionally, they’re odor-resistant, so they can be worn for multiple days or workouts without needing a wash

spyder legacy gtx infinium lined half zip knit sweater
Wool sweaters are great for casual and active use.
Merino vs. synthetic: Which is better?

Merino wool and synthetics are both well-known for their uses in the outdoor and fitness arenas. Both are very effective at wicking away sweat and venting excess heat, but there are a few notable differences.

Merino is excellent for its ability to stay warm even when wet. It’s highly breathable, soft to the touch, and highly odor-resistant.

On the other hand, wool is often much pricier than synthetic materials. And synthetics tend to be more durable and last longer than wool (unless the wool is bolstered with synthetic material). Some types of wool, such as alpaca, are more durable than others and can result in apparel that’s closer to synthetics in terms of toughness.

But synthetic materials soak out quicker when you sweat, can get downright chilly when wet, and are not known for their ability to repel odor. In fact, it seems like they attract odor and hold on for all it’s worth.

For us, the smell factor alone tips the scales toward wool. And when you add the ability to stay warm when wet, the softness, and the sheer variety of options available, wool is definitely our choice material for sweaters and base layers.

Is merino wool better than lambswool?

Lambswool is taken from the first shearing of a lamb, resulting in soft, fine wool. However, because it can be taken from any sheep, the micron count can vary quite a bit and is often not stated. A smaller micron measurement means finer and softer wool. Merino wool is considered very fine, which means the fibers are smaller than 24 microns in diameter.

For an everyday sweater, this isn’t as much of an issue. For travel, adventure, and outdoor purposes, merino is ideal. It has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, dries quickly, and retains warmth even when wet in cold weather.

Merino is more versatile than lambswool and can be useful in a wider range of activities. If you want to be ready for anything, merino wool is the way to go.

Can I wash my sweaters in the washing machine?

It depends on the type of sweater. The agitator in a washing machine can ruin the knit of a sweater and can greatly reduce the life of the wool. And always avoid hot water and dryers, as heat will shrink the garment.

The best way to find out how to clean your sweater is to check the sweater’s tag for cleaning instructions.

If your sweater is machine-washable, do this:

  • Turn your sweater inside out and wash it with like colors. Close all zippers, if any.
  • Use a mild soap or wool detergent. Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
  • Lay flat to dry. If you’re drying it outside, make sure it’s in the shade.

If your sweater is dry-clean-only, you can probably handwash it. Here’s how:

  • Fill a clean sink, tub, or another basin with cold water, and then add a bit of mild soap or wool detergent.
  • Dip your sweater in and out of the water until it’s soaked, and then gently agitate it in the water. If there are any soiled spots, rub those spots softly with your fingers.
  • When it’s clean, drain the tub and refill it with cold water. Dip and redip the sweater in the water until it’s soap-free.
  • To dry it, lay it on a towel, roll up the towel, and then squeeze it to remove the water. Move it to a drier part of the towel, repeat until the sweater stops dripping, and then lay it out flat to dry. As above, if you lay it out outside, make sure it stays out of the sun.
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