The problem with manmade fibers like polypropylene is that they can get a little funky at the mere mention of the word “sweat.” And although merino wool doesn’t have the same problem, it has limitations as well. Splitting the difference — and attempting to bring the best of both worlds to one jersey — Swobo’s new Merino 753 top employs wool fibers paired with polyester.
Swobo worked with a New Zealand source to develop a fine wool fabric that would compare to the thinness of Lycra, the company cites. Swobo’s motivation was to spread the wool message to the masses but also appeal to “the mass-marketed polyester jersey crowd” with the new $110 jersey.
The result is a jersey made with a fabric that’s about 20 percent merino wool and 80 percent polyester. The wool fibers sit next to the skin to act as an insulation layer that also transports sweat. The poly, serving as a thin outer layer, does its job repelling wind and moisture. Swobo touts the mix as enabling “a consistent core temperature of the user.”
The outer poly layer also gives the Merino 753 jersey enough durability so the company could stitch in pockets.
In my test so far, the jersey seems true to its promises. I’ve been riding with a Merino 753 on for the past week straight. In the interest of testing, I ran it through my very own dirtbag decathlon, including commuting to work, yoga, lunchtime runs, rides home, and then a night of lounging around.
The result? Doesn’t smell bad at all. I even asked a female friend who loves the look of dirty rocker types — but not their smell — and she conferred after putting her nose to the garment that it was only just a bit funky after a few days use. And that’s up real close.
Performance-wise, it’s great. The top dried quickly and was comfortable throughout many activities. Its $110 price tag is a tad steep. But if you’re looking for a quality lightweight jersey that can double as a base-layer top, the 753 is a good place to start. www.swobo.com
—Stephen Krcmar lives and works in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.