The Best Men's Wool Sweaters of 2024 (2024)

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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 2024.

Written by Andrew Potter

The Best Men's Wool Sweaters of 2024 (1)(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.

To develop this list, we tested dozens of sweaters from brands including Patagonia, Smartwool, Ibex, and Pendleton. We donned sweaters for active and casual use, assessing breathability in the mountains and comfort at the bar. Our testing process spans multiple winter seasons, and we’ll continue to consider new styles as they hit the market going forward.

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. So get a fire going, pour a hot cup of cocoa, and check out our list of the best wool sweaters of 2024

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

Editor’s Note: We updated this guide on October 4, 2023, to add two new products, as well as notes about the different types of wool sweaters, and ensured that our choices are still the best of the best.

The Best Wool Sweaters of 2024

Best Overall Wool Sweater

Pendleton Original Westerley Sweater


  • StyleFull-zip cardigan
  • Material100% lamb's wool


  • Iconic vintage styling
  • Warm
  • Comfortable


  • Not ideal for technical use

Billy Brown

Founded in 1863, Portland, Oregon-based Pendleton Woolen Mills is one of the most revered purveyors of tweed, flannel, and wool apparel. Now in its sixth generation of family ownership, Pendleton’s Original Westerley Sweater ($249) became a pop culture icon with its prominent role in the legendary Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski.”

The sweater originally debuted in 1972 but has been resurrected by popular demand. It remains a versatile, cozy piece of menswear that can double as a conversation starter.

Icon status aside, the Westerley is an immaculately knit, heavy wool sweater with great fit and feel. The lambswool material is warm, and the dense knit gives it the soothing feel of a weighted blanket. The styling is truly timeless, looking as great now as it did 50 years ago. Even wearers who’ve never seen the movie will appreciate the Westerley’s combination of style and comfort.

Though this sweater is geared toward casual use, we found it slotted in well on mellow winter adventures. We snowshoed and cross country skied in the Westerly, and it never felt sweaty or restrictive. Plus, we attracted numerous compliments from others on the trail.

Best Budget Wool Sweater

Outdoor Voices MegaFleece Snap Up Pullover


  • StyleSnap-up pullover
  • Material63% reclaimed wool/24% nylon/13% polyester


  • Warm
  • Stylish
  • Great deal for the price


  • Bulky for certain activities
  • Takes a while to dry

Billy Brown

Outdoor Voices is making a name for itself rather quickly in the outdoor industry, and the MegaFleece Snap Up ($138) didn’t disappoint. While not exactly viable for high-energy activities, this wool sweater is a great addition to the fall-winter wardrobe.

More rigid than conventional wool sweaters, the Snap Up still has a good amount of stretch for its weight. The cuffs are durable, the material cozy, and we found the fit to be spot on.

The MegaFleece probably serves best as a primary outer layer. It’s a bit too beefy to be worn under another jacket. The front pouch pocket has a hidden zip pocket within, which is quite large (big enough for a phone, keys, wallet, and whatever else you want to squeeze in).

The only downside is that this sweater is hand-wash only, and took quite a long time to dry. If you wash it to wear it the next day, you’ll have to dry it in front of a fire for it to be ready in time. That said, after hand-washing and drying it twice, the material felt the same. It actually softened up a little bit and became more pleasant on the skin.

The MegaFleece Snap Up looks and feels great, making it an ideal sweater to take the bite out of the cold. It was also surprisingly wind-resistant, and the bone colorway kept us cool when the high-altitude sun poked through the clouds.

Best Cashmere Sweater

Patagonia Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater


  • StyleCrewneck pullover
  • Material95% recycled cashmere, 5% wool


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


  • A bit delicate

Billy Brown

If you’re looking at buying cashmere but don’t want to empty your bank account to do it, the Recycled Cashmere Crewneck from Patagonia ($199) is the way to go. It has all the feel of cashmere but with half the price tag.

Cashmere is made from the undercoat of Kashmir goats. This undercoat fiber is very fine, producing an extremely soft feel. Due to the low yield of fibers per goat, cashmere wool is very pricey and highly sought after. Because of this demand, overbreeding of Kashmir goats has wreaked havoc on the Mongolian region where they live. The sheer number of goats in the area has decimated plant life. This contributes to the desertification of the region.

To combat this, Patagonia is making recycled cashmere apparel using pre-consumer scraps from European factories. These scraps are blended with a small amount of virgin wool. The result is a sweater that has the fit and feel of cashmere with a fraction of the environmental impact (not to mention a fraction of the price).

This simple crewneck is comfy, soft, and highly versatile. It thrives as an everyday midlayer in the autumn and winter. Like most other cashmere sweaters, it isn’t the most durable. Keep an eye out for snags while on the move.

Best Cardigan

Fjallraven Ovik Zip Cardigan


  • StyleHigh-neck zip cardigan
  • Material100% wool


  • Durable
  • Dries quickly
  • Versatile


  • Can feel a bit scratchy without an undershirt

Billy Brown

A great blend of form and function, Fjallraven’s Ovik Zip Cardigan ($250) is a 100% wool cardigan that works well for technical applications. It’s a classic time-worn garment. The dense weave resists pilling and holds up well in rugged environments.

We’ve worn the Ovik while backpacking during the shoulder seasons. The cardigan was warm and cozy in the cool morning air, and even the sweaty spots stayed warm when we started to perspire. As the day heated up, the sweater channeled away sweat and dried quickly. When we were done, there were no visible loose threads and the sweater showed very little wear from pack rubbing.

What’s more, the cardigan looks great. Its style makes it work just as well out to dinner or drinks as it does on the trail.

At $250, the Ovik is a significant investment. In our experience, the price-tag has been justified by many years of consistent use. Cardigans never go out of style, so it pays to pick a durable one.

Best Wool Sweater for Active Use

Kora Men’s Yardang Jersey


  • StyleHalf-zip high-neck fitted pullover
  • Material70% merino, 30% yak wool


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


  • Not the warmest

Billy Brown

Kora’s new Quarter-Zip Yardang jerseys ($150) possess an impossibly soft texture. Against bare skin, this lightweight pullover feels like a combination of silk, cashmere, and a cumulus cloud. The Yardang is composed of 70% “ultrafine” Merino and 30% Himalayan yak wool. Kora claims this exotic blend effectively regulates body temperature and lessens any extremes of feeling hot and cold. In our experience, it’s an ideal midlayer in freezing temps and a comfy outer layer between 50 and 65 degrees.

Unlike many layers on this list, the Yardang is truly built for high-output activity. The half-length zipper makes it easy to dump heat, and the fairly thin wool material breathes exceptionally well. Plus, both available colors are vibrant and beautiful.

We tested the Yardang while cross county skiing, snowboarding, and ice climbing, and it thrived in every setting. It’s stretchy enough to allow full range of motion and breathable enough to remain in use as the afternoon temps begin to rise.

Best Wool Hoodie

Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Fleece Hoodie


  • StylePullover hoodie
  • Material100% alpaca wool


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


  • Lacks a hood cinch

Billy Brown

The only entrant on this list made with alpaca wool, the All-Paca Fleece Hoodie ($165) from Appalachian Gear Company is a perfect choice for outdoor activity. Built with backpacking and hiking in mind, the All-Paca sports tough seams and a knit structure designed for durability under a pack. Also, the quick-drying wool will evaporate sweat quickly when you take your pack off for a quick breather.

Why use alpaca wool? Besides the fact that the animals are adorable, alpaca wool fibers have a smoother surface than Merino wool, so they feel less prickly than Merino. In addition, they have a higher tensile strength than Merino, so these hoodies are built to last.

The fibers are also more water-resistant without a loss of breathability. This means it dries faster and insulates better when wet. If your definition of doing laundry is dunking your clothes in a creek, wringing them out, and hanging them to dry, this is the hoodie for you.

Thanks to its nifty hood, the All-Paca doubles as a protective layer on sunny winter days. The hood fit well over a climbing or cycling helmet.

Best Full Zip Wool Jacket

Ibex Shak Jacket


  • StyleFull-zip sweater
  • Materials100% merino


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


  • Expensive

Billy Brown

The Shak Jacket ($260) from Ibex is the quintessential modern merino jacket. It’s light, luxuriously soft, and suitable for both the front and backcountry. It easily combines with a button-up and dress shoes at the office, yet it’s plenty stretchy and breathable for a cross-continental bike-packing trip. It’s a bit pricey, but it offers unparalleled utility.

Made from 100% fine merino fibers, the Shak is buttery soft against the skin and can be worn with or without an undershirt. It breathes well and effectively prevents perspiration — if you do sweat in the Shak, it dries in an instant. Three zippered pockets (one chest and two hand) open and close smoothly, even after dozens of wears.

Ibex clothing is generally built with active use in mind. If you’re seeking a reliable new midlayer for backcountry skiing or winter camping, you can’t go wrong with the Shak.

Best of the Rest

icebreaker Cool-Lite Nova Sweatshirt


  • StylePullover crew neck
  • Material50% merino, 50% TENCEL


  • Breathable
  • Sheds heat
  • Lightweight


  • Somewhat delicate

Billy Brown

Well-known for its outstanding outdoor apparel, the icebreaker Cool-Lite Merino Nova Sweater ($150) takes New Zealand Company’s trail tech to in-town garments. This sweater is a 50-50 blend of merino wool and TENCEL, a wood-based fiber that adds softness and moisture-wicking properties.

Featuring a classic style, the Nova is great for wearing around town. The merino-and-TENCEL blend feels extremely soft, and the crewneck sweater’s breathability ensures that it won’t become a hotbox if the weather warms up.

Not only that, but icebreaker’s clothing is shockingly odor-resistant. We’ve worn icebreaker apparel for days on end without any foul smells. This comes in handy on long trips where you’ll be wearing your clothes over and over again. The combination of form and function in the Nova makes it an ideal piece to throw in a duffel for a weeklong trip.

Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody


  • Material51% merino wool, 49% recycled nylon
  • StyleHoodie-base layer


  • Impressive warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Stretchy
  • Hood and collar style is great for heat retention


  • Prone to snagging
  • Expensive

Billy Brown

The Capilene Air Hoody ($159) is a fixture in many outdoor adventurers’ closets, and for good reason. This sweater-baselayer hybrid hoody has an unbeatable warmth to weight ratio, making it ideal for long days and nights where comfort and functionality are in high demand.

We loved the high, gaiter-like neck, and found that the hoody can be worn either over or under a helmet (though under seemed to function better). Made with 51% merino and 49% recycled nylon, the sweater is remarkably stretchy, and moves seamlessly with the body.

As with any wool sweater, the material is prone to snagging, so we’d recommend layering over it if you’re hiking through dense foliage. We also managed to put a small hole in it with a quickdraw, although we’d attribute that to user error, and due to the nature of the fabric, it’s almost unnoticeable.

For active use, the Cap Air Hoody might be the single best wool sweater for layering on cold days. It works great with whatever type of jacket you want to layer on top, and even functions as a primary layer while active. The material wicks moisture well, and dries fast.

It’s also surprisingly classy, so you won’t stand out if you head straight from the trail to meet up with friends. At $159, it’s definitely a bit pricey for its intended application, but if you value a high warmth to weight ratio in your activities, you won’t be disappointed.

Smartwool Sparwood Crew Sweater


  • StyleLightweight classic crew
  • Material55% recycled polyester, 30% merino wool, 15% nylon


  • Comfortable
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Black marl gives it a textured look


  • Very athletic fit
  • Not ideal as activewear

Billy Brown

Smartwool is known for their Merino wool craftsmanship, and the Sparwood Crew Sweater ($105) lived up to the hype. Aside from being incredibly comfortable, this sweater is surprisingly versatile.

Designed like a single-knit jersey, wool’s stretchy qualities are on full display with this sweater. It fits to your body while maintaining its form, making it applicable as a layer on cold days, or as a primary casual top. It can even be dressed up with a collar for more formal events.

The sweater’s ribbed cuffs and collar are functional but not obvious, and we found the overall weight ideal for preserving heat while maintaining breathability. While primarily known for their baselayers, Smartwool has transitioned well to casual wear, as the Sparwood Crew is one of the best sweaters to have in your wardrobe.

Note: The fit of the Sparwood Crew Sweater is a bit athletic, so we’d recommend sizing up if you have broad shoulders, or if you simply want a looser, more relaxed fit.

Wool Sweater Comparison Chart


Pendleton Original Westerly Sweater


Full-zip cardigan

100% lambswool

Outdoor Voices MegaFleece Snap Up Pullover$138Snap-up pullover63% reclaimed wool, 24% nylon, 13% polyester

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Nova Sweatshirt


Pullover crew neck

50% Merino, 50% TENCEL

Patagonia Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater


Pullover crew neck

95% recycled cashmere, 5% wool

Fjallraven Ovik Zip Cardigan


High-neck zip cardigan

100% wool

Kora Yardang Jersey


Half-zip high neck fitted pullover

70% Merino, 30% yak wool

Appalachian Gear All-Paca Hoodie



100% alpaca fiber

Ibex Shak Jacket


Full-zip sweater

100% Merino

Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody$159Hoody-baselayer51% Merino wool, 49% recycled nylon
Smartwool Sparwood Crew Sweater$105Lightweight classic crew55% recycled polyester, 30% Merino wool, 15% nylon

How We Tested Wool Sweaters

For this guide, we considered the most durable, highly acclaimed, well-constructed, and environmentally responsible wool sweater 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.

Our lead wool sweater tester is Andrew Potter. Based on the east side of California’s High Sierra, Potter faces an annual long winter season — a perfect time to sample cozy sweaters. To put this list together, Potter rocked dozens of sweaters during all sorts of casual and active affairs.

Other GearJunkie contributors also lent their expertise to this roundup. From snowy environments in the Rockies, to summer evening campfire hangs, we tested sweaters in every season and every region. Our 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 a myriad of 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.


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.

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 the 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.

How to Choose the Best Wool Sweater for You

The best wool sweaters are known for their warmth-to-weight ratio, which makes them ideal for both active and casual use. That said, there are wool sweaters that specialize in both categories, and it’s helpful to know what your intended use is.

For purely athletic use, we highly recommend the Yardang Jersey and the Capilene Air Hoody. Both are extremely light for the warmth they provide, and the weaves maintain flexibility that’s ideal for activities like climbing, cycling, and hiking. Wool is always going to be warm — even when it’s wet. The biggest considerations for active use are going to be flexibility, moisture wicking, and weight. Both of these wool sweaters excel in those categories.

For casual use, your options will vary depending on the style you’re interested in. Obviously, the Pendleton Original Westerly sweater is an ideal choice, but we’d also recommend the Outdoor Voices MegaFleece Snap Up and the Smartwool Sparwood Crew. Each option has a different aesthetic, and all three offer a casual look that would also suffice if you happen to find yourself walking instead of opting for a rideshare on a night out.

If you want a wool sweater that can do it all, the All-Paca Fleece Hoodie is probably your best bet from this list. As the review implies, it’s ideal for active use, but we also found it to work great for casual use. It looks great, doesn’t have too athletic of a fit, and is extremely comfortable for wherever your day might take you.


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

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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The Best Men's Wool Sweaters of 2024 (18)

Andrew Potter

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