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Wool for Warmer Weather

Smartwool’s Palisade Trail V-Neck and PhD shorts are ideal for summer in the mountains

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Price: $V-Neck $120 | Shorts $60

Sizes: XS-XL

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I wear a lot of wool in the dead of winter—socks, base layers, my favorite beanie—because I know it will keep me warm and dry when I'm skiing. So it would seem counterintuitive to wear garments of the same material when I'm playing in the mountains during summer months. However, wool's moisture-wicking properties actually make it one of the best materials available for those of us who like to play outside year round.

This time of year, weather in the mountains is always in flux, so having layers that work for changing temperatures is why the Palisade Trail V-Neck from Smartwool was the first thing I threw in my bag for a recent trip to Colorado. Made with 60 percent merino wool (the rest is nylon and acrylic), this Smartwool sweater is soft enough to wear next-to-skin over a tank or sports bra for a little extra warmth on cool mornings, but lightweight enough that I usually don't need or want to take it off when the day warms up.

The fit, which runs a bit large, is very relaxed and long (a medium covers my entire backside) so it's great to throw on over leggings or base layers. Thanks to the V-neck and high-quality material, it's an easy sweater to wear from the trails into town without feeling like I'm in something too techy.

The merino makeup combined with the pointelle knit pattern keeps this sweater nice and breathable without feeling flimsy or too thin. I logged three days of hiking in this sweater last week, plus a few wears in between, and still haven't noticed any odor thanks to the wool's natural lanolin that prevents bacteria from building up.

This is also true—thank goodness—of Smartwool's PhD short which are made of a soft, stretchy polyester and lined with a merino brief and waistband that keep temperatures regulated and anything funky at bay.

The fit of these shorts is extremely comfortable for hiking or running (also watching Netflix). I wear a large and don't get any gapping at the waist like I do in a lot of shorts like this (no need to use the drawstring for me). The 3" inseam is a bit on the short side for me and can tend to hike up a bit on my quads, but generally these shorts stay put. The small zipper pocket on the back of the waistband is a great place to keep my house key or a chapstick, and I haven't had any trouble with chaffing or rubbing.

While wool is best known for its insulating properties, it works in the opposite way in these shorts keeping me cool and dry in the mountains.