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Thursday, March 17, 2011
Updated: March 19, 6:25 PM ET
I/O Bio Contact 1 Glory Zip ($90)


This shirt looks tight, we know, but it'll save you from smelling bad.

Are you seriously still wearing a cotton T-shirt as a baselayer while skiing? It's time for an upgrade. You've likely heard all the benefits of wearing wool: It l wicks away sweat, keeping you warm and dry, and you can wear it for days without washing it and not smell like a hippie's sleeping bag after a trip to Burning Man. But, any ol' wool off the loom can often be itchy next to your skin. Which is why you need merino wool.

WHAT IT IS:
I/O Bio's Glory Zip is a merino wool baselayer top with a hood, essentially the top half of the company's well-known head-to-ankles Pilot Suit. Merino wool is known for being softer than other wools, more environmentally-friendly than synthetic layers, and naturally antimicrobial (read: anti-stink). "I wear it four days a week, never wash it and it never stinks," says Exum mountain guide Stephen Koch, who swears by the Glory Zip when he's on expeditions. "I love the hood as an extra layer under the helmet on descents, or as a substitute for the claustrophobic balaclava on climbs."

WHY IT RULES:
"It's the softest wool I've ever put next to my skin," says Koch. The reason: I/O Bio is owned by Michell Wool, an Australian company that has controlled a hefty portion of the merino wool industry since 1870 and sells to most of the merino wool garment manufacturers on the planet. As such, I/O Bio cherry picks Michell's highest quality stuff. Furthermore, they've perfected a yarn spinning technique that puts less torque on the fibers -- they're under less strain and therefore don't break as often, meaning the yarn isn't frayed. Frayed yarn is what gives wool that old-timey itchy feeling. With an I/O Bio piece, you don't get that itch.

WHERE TO FIND IT:
Find an online retailer or go to your local I/O Bio retailer.