Versatile. Stylish. Functional. The vest is just a classic piece for any wardrobe. You can layer it underneath a heavy coat in the cold or throw it on over a long sleeve for those cool nights. And out of all the fabrics, Merino wool vests are the best! So, we’ve put together a list of our eleven favorites to help you search for your perfect vest.
While you may think: “isn’t a vest just a vest?” Well, not really. Due to its natural properties, Merino wool can be incorporated in various ways – lining, shell, insulation, etc. – and many vests have technical features that work well for rugged outdoor activities. From the mountains to the office, there are plenty of styles to choose from.
We hope you invest some of your time and check out what the world of men’s Merino wool vests has to offer. Enjoy!
- Best Overall: Woolx Stowe Vest
- Runner-Up: Ibex Shak Vest
- Best Quilted Vest: Icebreaker ZoneKnit™
- Best Fleece Vest: Smartwool Hudson Plaid
- Best For Running: Giesswein Stan Vest
- Best For Hiking: Black Diamond First Light
- Best For Travel: Minus33 Expedition
- Best Puffer Vest: Ibex Wool Aire
- Best Golf Vest: Fairway & Greene Baruffa 1/4 Zip
- Best Sweater Vest: WoolOvers Cashmere and Merino
- Best For Winter: Duckworth WoolCloud
- Final Note About The Best Merino Wool Vests For Men
Disclosure: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain our genuineness and authenticity. However, as an affiliate member, we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Why The Merino Wool Vest Is Best
Before we get into our favorite vests, you may want to know why Merino wool is the best vest material. And while we can sometimes be a little biased, there’s no doubting how fantastic wool can be. It’s warm yet lightweight, comfortable, versatile, and even stylish!
We want you to understand the power of Merino and how it can work with your lifestyle. So, learn more about these properties below before discovering the Merino wool vest that works for you!
Pictured: Minus33 Wilderness Expedition Vest. Image Credit: Minus33.
Vests are meant to do one thing: keep your core warm. Yet, you don’t want something too bulky if you need to throw an extra layer overtop. And Merino wool provides these thermo-regulation properties but without the excess weight.
Think about it. Sheep are always outside and need some protection from the elements. Their wool needs to trap their body heat if it’s too cold. Yet if it’s too warm, it needs to breathe so the sheep can cool down. And, with a Merino wool vest, you harness these same temperature-regulation properties!
One of the many benefits of Merino wool is that it has a silky, soft next-to-skin feel. That’s why they make such great base layers! However, you won’t be going bare-chested underneath your vest. So, how is Merino wool still so comfortable, even as a midlayer?
Well, that’s where the vest design comes into play. You want to avoid floppy or loose fabric rubbing the wrong areas. Moreover, you don’t want your vest to be too constricting that you don’t have a full range of motion. Whether it’s stay-put collars, offset shoulder seams, or a specialized athletic fit, these vests with your comfort in mind.
Versatility & Function
A solid vest plays a significant part in any functional wardrobe. You can layer it over top or underneath. Wear it casual with sweats or dress it up with a button-down (a Merino wool button-down, of course). Or, pack it in your everyday bag in case of a weather emergency!
You can genuinely wear a Merino wool vest in nearly every social situation, work meeting, or anywhere your adventures take you!
No flashes. No frills. You may not think of vests as fashionable, but functional is fashionable. You can wear some vets with a casual wardrobe, while others work better with formalwear. And, as you’ll see with some of these Merino wool vests, a few are informal and formal.
So, in terms of your style, understand how you will use your new Merino wool vest. Many of these pieces are expensive, which is one of the disadvantages of Merino Wool. At the end of the day, we want you to get your money’s worth and look good while doing it.
Best Overall Men’s Merino Wool Vest
Woolx Stowe Vest
80% Merino, 20% Polyamide | Heavyweight (340 gsm) | Relaxed fit | 3 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Versatile layering piece | Moisture-repellent | Unique textured knit
Cons: Dry clean only | Rather expensive
Aptly named after a quaint ski village in Vermont, the Woolx Stowe vest is the best Merino wool vest we’ve tried. The heavyweight material is insulative yet doesn’t possess the bulk of a puffer vest. That’s why it’s such a great layering piece! You can wear it underneath a jacket, and it will still feel comfortable. Or, wear it overtop a long-sleeve or hoodie in milder conditions for extra warmth. And, since it’s water-repellent, you may not even need a rain jacket!
One of the reasons the Stowe vest provides all of these features is the unique boucle knit design. Unlike some smoother fabrics on this list, the boucle knit creates a nubby texture, resulting from the looped yarn and densely-knitted weaving patterns. This adds warmth, water-repellency, and an element of class. So, in the end, Woolx has created a comfy, flattering, warm, and high-performing vest.
Unfortunately, even with all of these benefits, there’s still one downside: ‘dry clean only.’ It may not be a dealbreaker for you, but it also might not be as convenient as other options. All we’re saying is to factor this – and the price tag – into your decision, so you get the best vest for you!
Runner-Up: Best Merino Wool Vest
Ibex Shak Vest
100% Merino wool Ponti | Heavyweight (375 gsm) | Athletic fit | 5 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Dense, low-profile weave | Natural stretch & recovery | Excellent for outdoor adventures
Cons: Relatively pricey | Some users prefer the previous version
If you’re always on the go, hiking the next trail, or hopping on the next flight, you’ll want to check out the Ibex Shak Vest. This vest is built for adventure, as is all of Ibex’s gear. The heavyweight specialized fabric is warm yet breathable, and the low-profile construction makes it a great underlayer or overlayer. What else would you expect from a vest named after the famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton?
We do really love the minimalist design of this Merino wool vest. The fit is slimming, which prevents fabric bunching while layering, yet there is still ample room for movement. There is even a natural stretch to the material, which is perfect for high-intensity outdoor activities. Moreover, there are a ton of engineered features that Ibex has included within the design. There are three semi-hidden pockets (two sides, one chest) and a stand-up collar for extra warmth. Even the zippers are spring-loaded for stealthiness and have wind guards for protection against inclement conditions.
Yet, as you can imagine, a price comes with this top-notch material and high-quality craftsmanship. The real question you have to ask yourself is: is this vest worth it for me? In our opinion, if you’re more of the hang-around-the-house type, you may want to look elsewhere. However, the Ibex Shak Vest is a fitting choice if you plan on living a life filled with adventure.
Best Quilted Merino Wool Vest
Icebreaker Men’s ZoneKnit Merino Vest
100% Merino wool | Heavyweight (quilted front) | Slim fit | 2 colors | Price: $$$$$
Pros: Top warmth-to-weight ratio | Reinforced shoulder panes for carrying backpacks | Machine washable
Cons: Finicky zipper | Super expensive (we really mean it this time)
Calling all backcountry explorers, mountain adventures, and cold-weather warriors: the Icebreaker ZoneKnit™ Insulated vest is a must-have. Not only is it top in its class for warmth-to-weight, but it is lightweight and packable; that way, you can carry less on those long alpine trips. And yes, we get it; it’s expensive (and we really mean it this time). However, it’s the best for what it does – Merino wool or not – and it’s hard to put a price on that. So don’t scroll past it just yet.
We call this a quilted vest, but as Icebreaker says, it’s more of a performance vest. That’s because they engineered nearly every aspect of it to perform for any cold-weather adventure. The unique ‘body-mapped’ design keeps you toasty but not too hot. For example, the quilted front traps in body heat for an insulative effect around your core, while the back is unquilted with venting, as you don’t want to sweat through your backpack. Plus, there are reinforced shoulder panes to prevent chafing if your pack is too heavy.
Altogether, this high level of craftsmanship trickles down to every feature of the ZoneKnit™ vest. The two-way front zipper provides fine-tuned ventilation, while the double-layered collar keeps your neck nice and warm. Also, there are two front handwarmer pockets and two internal ‘dump pockets‘ to store gloves. It’s like the experts at Icebreaker really know their stuff.
Best Fleece Merino Wool Vest
Smartwool Hudson Plaid Fleece Vest
45-55% Merino blend | Mid-to-heavyweight | Regular fit | 7 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Great fabric strength & versatility | Multiple color options | Priced affordably
Cons: May seem bulkier than expected | Not as form-fitting as other options
In the world of Merino wool gear, Smartwool makes the Mount Rushmore. And this Hudson Plaid Fleece Vest exhibits the craftsmanship and quality that Smartwool represents. The fabric is a unique blend of recycled wool and synthetic material, so you get softness from Merino and strength from synthetics. This makes it easier to care for in the long run as it’s not as susceptible to snags or tears as pure Merino wool.
What we love about the Hudson fleece vest – and many of Smartwool’s extensive Merino collections – is the mixture of functionality and style. For example, this vest has a classy yet casual cut, making it perfect as an outer layer in the spring and fall. Moreover, the faux leather zippers on the zippered pockets (two front, one chest) add to the vintage outerwear look. You can wear it on the trail, to a party, in the office, or on the couch!
Although, some users have reported that the vest’s fit isn’t as ‘regular’ as you may expect. Moreover, you can’t necessarily tell from the images, but the fabric is also bulkier than expected. So, if you’re looking for a designated layering piece, look for a slimmer, more form-fitting option.
And if you love this style but aren’t a fan of the vest aesthetic, you can always opt for the jacket version. It has all the same features, plus sleeves. It’s a personal preference, but whichever side you’re on, you can’t make the wrong choice with Smartwool.
Best Merino Wool Running Vest
Giesswein Stan Vest
85% Merino wool, 15% Polyamide | Light-to-midweight | Regular Fit | 4 colors | Price: $159
Pros: Lightweight performance | Minimalist design | Reflective features
Cons: Not the most versatile | Not the warmest
If you’re a cold-weather runner, a vest really comes in handy. It should keep your core warm yet still breathe to prevent any moisture build-up. Yes, running vests are made with all sorts of materials, yet most can’t match the powers of Merino wool. Not only is it lightweight, warm, and breathable, but something about it feels right. And getting in an early winter jog with this Giesswein Stan Vest feels right.
If you’re familiar with Giesswein, you’ll understand that they design every piece until the last detail. These little design features set the Stan vest apart from the rest. The collar stands still, so you aren’t bogged down by any neckwear on your runs (although I still use a Merino wool buff in freezing conditions). Moreover, the spiral reverse zipper is top-quality, so you won’t have to adjust mid-workout. Giesswein added a few reflective marks on the neck and chest for safety.
Overall, the minimalist design is just the right amount of nothing to keep you performing at your best throughout the winter months. It’s so insulative yet breathable that it shouldn’t stink even after a few long runs. So, whether you’re training for a personal best or simply relieving some stress, outlast the rest by getting dressed in this Stan vest. Okay, dumb rhyming aside, this thing is legit, so give it a peek when you get the chance.
Best Merino Wool Hiking Vest
Black Diamond First Light Hybrid Vest
Blended Merino wool (lining) | Heavyweight (300 gsm lining + insulation + shell) | Slim fit | 4 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Warmth without bulk | Highly engineered fabrics | Perfect for alpine activities
Cons: Some sizing discrepancies | Hardware durability
So, I’m really into ultralight backpacking. If you don’t know what that is, it’s carrying less than 8 lbs of gear or less (not including consumables) while hiking about a marathon daily. Sounds crazy, I know, but the idea is the less weight you carry, the further you go. And, without the luxuries of modern society, you feel a closer connection with nature. Anyways, long story short (this isn’t an essay-long recipe, for gosh sake), whenever I’m out on the trail, I always like to have this First Light vest handy.
The reason is that it only weighs 11-oz. I know some puffer vests weigh a few ounces less, but there’s something about this vest that’s much more functional (for me, at least). Perhaps it’s the insane amount of technology that goes into a sub-pound vest. Don’t believe me? Black Diamond utilizes Schoeller® stretch-woven shell fabric with NanoSphere® Technology that quickly sheds oil, dirt, and water. Moreover, this vest has migration-resistant PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation for added warmth.
So, you’re probably asking: “with all these registered trademarks, where is the Merino wool?” Well, it’s in the body & lining, of course. The 300-gsm blended Merino wool body may not be the star of the show, but it does play an essential role in the temperature regulation process.
I highly recommend the Black Diamond First Light Vest for all outdoor activities. And if you’re planning a late spring hike, consider packing this instead of the traditional puffer. You won’t be disappointed!
Best Men’s Merino Wool Vest For Travel
Minus33 Wilderness Expedition Vest
100% Merino wool | Heavyweight (380 gsm) | Regular fit | 3 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Offset shoulder seams | Double-layer Ponti knit | Packs small
Cons: No chest pocket | Torso length may feel long for some
If you like to live life on the go, hopping from city to city, it can be challenging to pack the right gear. For one, you want something that can hold up to the elements, but you also want to avoid lugging around an oversized coat. The perfect in-between layer is a vest, and in our opinion, the best vest for travel is the Minus33 Wilderness Expedition vest.
You may think: “um, this is supposed to be an outdoor vest, not a travel vest.” And you’d be technically correct. However, the same properties that make it a great outdoor vest – warmth-to-weight, versatility, comfort, fit, packability, etc. – also make it a carry-on essential. The only thing we’d change would be to add an extra chest pocket. So, if you work for Minus33, we’d love to see this additional feature next season.
The fabric and design are the two things we love most about this vest. The double-layered Ponte De Roma material is warm and durable with plenty of stretchiness. And since it has a minimalist design and standard fit, this vest becomes super versatile on the road. Although, the length can feel long at times, especially if you’re wearing a shorter overlayer.
Finally, if we compare this vest to many others on the list, it’s definitely affordable. So, you can use the savings to get the whole AirBnB to yourself rather than bunking with some randos. Just remember to pack your Wilderness Expedition vest before you depart!
Best Merino Wool Puffer Vest
Ibex Wool Aire Vest
80% Merino wool insulation (100% Nylon shell) | Lightweight | Athletic fit | 3 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Warmth without weight or bulk | Functional weather-resistance | Machine washable
Cons: Outdoor style may not work with daily wear | Fabric may wrinkle
Merino wool fabric has a smooth next-to-skin feel and excellent temperature regulation properties, making it a superb vest material. Still, when the weather is wet and cold, you’ll need something more weather-resistant. In those cases, you may think: “Merino wool isn’t going to cut it.” Well, that’s not the case. Not only does Merino wool make excellent fabric, but it also works as insulation. So, you get the warmth from the wool (instead of down or synthetic) and the weather resistance of the lining and shell. Long story short, you get a Merino wool puffer vest, and our favorite one is the Ibex Wool Aire Vest.
Modeled after their popular Aire Hoody, this lightweight vest (~10 oz. for a medium) truly punches above its weight. The 20-denier Nylon shell is wind and water-resistant, while the 70-80 gram Merino wool fill provides enough loft to trap warm air. In other words, these materials work together to keep the cold air out and your body heat in.
In terms of style, this vest is basic, but in a good way. Some of the color patterns have that Pacific Northwest, outdoor-wear vibe, yet it only looks out of place in day-to-day life as the nylon fabric sometimes wrinkles. We think of it as a four-season layer for the backcountry and more of a packable emergency layer in daily life. So, if that’s what you’re after, check the Wool Air Vest out below or read more about Ibex’s wide range of Merino wool gear!
Best Merino Wool Golf Vest
Fairway & Greene Baruffa Merino ¼ Zip Windvest
100% Italian Merino exterior (Polyester lining) | Regular fit | 7 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Windproof construction | High-quality materials | Bigger sizes available
Cons: Dry clean only | Limited versatility
Golfing and hiking aren’t all that different; you’re outside for hours walking through the woods with heavy equipment on your back. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Merino wool has made its way onto the course. And in terms of Merino wool vests specifically designed for golf, the Baruffa ¼ Zip from Fairway & Greene sits atop the leaderboard.
This vest has a unique nylon lining, which, combined with the Merino wool exterior, makes it windproof. And, since Merino wool still maintains its insulative properties when wet, you won’t have to worry if you get some drizzle on the back nine. Although, due to these weather-proofing features, you can only clean it at the dry cleaners. Plus, it could be more versatile off the course. You can wear it running errands or to a casual dinner, but for anything more formal, you’ll look like the dude whose most proper attire is his golf attire. And no one likes that guy.
Some people prefer Fairway & Greene’s long-sleeve version of the Baruffa, yet I like the vest more as the extra bulkiness can sometimes throw off my swing. It’s an excellent midlayer for early-season scrambles and late-season league play. Sure, it may not improve your handicap, but at least you’ll look good (and feel great) next time you slice the ball into the woods.
Best Men’s Merino Wool Sweater Vest
WoolOvers Cashmere And Merino Vest
80% Merino, 20% Cashmere | Midweight | Regular fit | 15 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Minimalist design | Excellent color choices | Cashmere adds extra softness
Cons: Questionable longevity | Not as warm as traditional knits
As you’ve probably realized by now, Merino wool’s versatility is unmatched. However, a classic sweater vest may not need all these extra bells and whistles. Instead, you want a timeless design that works fashionably with all your formalwear. And that’s where this WoolOvers Cashmere and Merino vest comes into play.
Honestly, this vest is precisely what you would picture a sweater vest to be. The pullover design, ribbed trim, and regular fit add a touch of elegant simplicity to any formalwear. Plus, there are fifteen color options to choose from, and they aren’t just any colors. WoolOvers offers basic neutral tones but adds a bit of style with shades like woodland green, dark turmeric, moonlight ocean, and more!
One thing to note is that this vest is not as thick as you may expect. While we classify the fabric as midweight, it’s one of the lightest pieces on this list. So, if you’re in the market for something warmer but still dig the style, check out WoolOvers Classic Lambswool Vest. It is slightly heavier, with more bulk, but may not work well with tight-fitting outer layers.
Overall, this v-neck Merino wool sweater vest will make a great addition to your office wear rotation. The wool offers moderate warmth and is blended with 20% cashmere for an even more luxurious feel. Although, with such delicate fabrics, you must use proper washing techniques to prolong the wear life.
Best Merino Wool Vest For Winter
Duckworth WoolCloud Vest
80% Merino interior (Nylon shell + lining) | Heavyweight | Relaxed fit | 4 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Holds up well in sub-zero weather | Snap-button front | 100% USA-sourced wool
Cons: No chest pocket | Limited availability
Alright, we know that all of the vests we’ve covered may classify as “cold-weather gear.” However, when the temperatures drop below freezing, many of these vests work only as a midlayer. So, in terms of cold-weather Merino wool vests that work as an outer layer, the Duckworth Wool Cloud Vest shines in a class of its own.
As with much of Duckworth’s clothing, the attention is in the details. They know you’ll be wearing it in wet, wintery conditions, so they use a water-resistant nylon shell and snap-buttoning for easy wear. But the weather protection continues beyond there. Unlike puffer vests stuffed with goose down, Merino wool insulation stays warm while wet. It’s just one of those unique properties of wool that is priceless.
Although, some minor details could be tweaked. For one, we would love a chest pocket for extra storage. Moreover, the two handwarmer pockets aren’t necessarily baffled, so you don’t get the same insulation level as the rest of the vest. It’s not a significant issue by any means; however, there is always room for improvement!
Still, the best part of the Wool Cloud vest, by far, is the wool! Duckworth sources all their wool from Rambouillet Merino sheep in Montana, which is hardier than some Australian Merino. And by shortening the supply chain, the wool becomes even more sustainable. On top of that, this vest’s solid insulation is made from noils (scraps from the production process) which would otherwise be discarded. In the end, the Wool Cloud vest is one of the most rugged, comfortable, and eco-friendly vests out there!
Final Note About The Best Merino Wool Vests For Men
From puffers with wool insulation to multifunctional zip-ups, we hope our favorite Merino wool vests can help you find your Merino wool vest. And remember, while deciding upon a vest, make sure it fits into your life. You don’t want to spend a good chunk of change to have the vest sit in your closet for over 99% of the year.
So, even after reading this, if you still can’t find your vest, feel free to reach out to us. We always like to help our readers find the Merino wool gear that suits their needs!
Finally, if you aren’t looking for anything specific but still want to learn more about the world of Merino wool, follow us on any of the socials below. Or, sign-up for our newsletter (no spam, only posts). Thanks again, and we look forward to joining the flock!