WoolX: How does it compare to Smartwool, Icebreaker or Minus33?

by | Comparisons (Outdoor), Outdoor

When it comes to merino wool, Woolx has always been a bit of an underdog. They’re still to catch up with the reputation of Icebreaker, Smartwool or Minus33.

Well, I admit it makes some sense. Being born in 2014, Woolx is the youngest brother in the merino family – considering the others were established almost 20 years ago.

What Woolx does best are affordable, excellent quality base layers. The Endurance tees (men) or Addie tees (women) are both good examples.


For mid-layers or extreme weather gear – Minus33 should be your go-to merino choice. Their Chorocua midweight crews or the Franconia leggings for women offer unmatched warmth and comfort.

Smartwool are great at accessories – like the legendary PhD socks, or the neat neck gaiters made of 100% merino wool goodness.

As for Icebreaker – they mix quality and quirkiness in their colorful, unorthodox designs. I’ll talk about them too, shortly.

Minus33 Chocorua

Best midweight for its price. 230/m knit made of 100% merino wool. Soft, well-fitting and elegant.

🚨Important🚨 All these brands use merino wool from New Zealand or Australia. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other countries that source merino. I myself have tinkered around with Italian merino wool:

But make no mistake – it’s the Aussie or Kiwi merino that will rock your socks off for real.

Alright, onwards to the meat of the article with heaps of recommendations!

Quiz time:
Let’s play merino associations

Are you a newcomer to the merino world? If yes, I envy you. Discovering the most comfortable, most breathable fabric for the first time felt like this to me:

Before I get to Woolx, here’s how merino wool brand associations look like!


Icebreaker combine quality with excitement.

Why excitement? Because they easily have the best designs out of all merino brands. Great way to stay comfy without sticking to monochrome T-shirts/crews and spicing things up a bit.

Personal favorite would be…

Icebreaker Crew Top

Stunning designs, adds a stylish twist to usual merino wear. Soft, breathable, overall awesome.


Smartwool I’d call finewool!

The New Zealand merino they use is like silk on your skin (and fingers). I’m not sure how they achieve that, but lord is their material fine. Well, the price tag reflects that though as they can run pricier.

This doesn’t apply that much to some of their accessories. I present you my 100% merino wool, 250m/2 champion that will aid you tackle the wintery winds:

Smartwool Neck Gaiter

Cozy fit, extremely warm lining and versatile as you can use it for a base layer too. 100% merino!


Minus33 stick to their brand name.

Expect them to be your best buddy for some seriously insane outdoor adventures in the freezing cold. No wonder they chose this name – sturdy, heavyweight clothes that are insulation masters.

Personal favorite: Chorocua midweight crew for men, for women the Ossipee crew.

Minus33 have a lot of women apparel, perhaps the most out of all merino brands!

Minus33 Ossipee Crew

Snuggly warm and 100% merino wool. A variety of enchanting colors to express yourself and stay cozy.

As for Woolx…

Affordability with a twist

Let’s not lie to ourselves: as consumers, we’re always looking for a deal. And Woolx has a price tag that screams ‘bargain!’

Luckily for you, it’s a good bargain…with a few caveats.

Woolx have very good base layers and so-so mid layers.

Good examples for base layers are the Woolx Summit polo shirt (for men) or the Woolx Addie shirt (for women).

Both of these offer good construction, moisture-wicking and breathability, plus resistance to odors. Addie is made of 100% merino wool. The Summit polo shirts are made of 83% merino which is still great as you need that few % of spandex for that type of shirt.

For a base/mid layer hybrid, the Explorer long sleeve is 100% midweight merino that is perfect for both autumn and winter.

So where’s the twist here?

Well, that’s where I’d put the stop to Woolx as I pointed out in the beginning of my review.

If you’re looking for outer shells or insulating layers I’d stick to Minus33, Icebreaker or Smartwool.

The same applies for sturdy mid layers you want to wear in harsher weather conditions. Like the winter our buddy the merino sheep is struggling with here:

Woolx vs Icebreaker, Minus33 and Smartwool: Why this merino wool underdog might make sense

For example, if you want a tough, ultra-warm mid layer buddy you get the Minus33 Isolation, not a Woolx.

The situation is somewhat similar with accessories like underwear or socks. Smartwool PhDs are unrivaled in the merino wool socks world. Both in terms of comfort/sturdiness and choice of designs.

Speaking of designs…You have to also keep in mind that Woolx merino clothes are rather simple. Styles and colors are definitely way less varied than the brand’s bigger brothers.

This is a big 50/50. Some people are perfectly OK with sticking to classic colors – black, grey or at most some navy blue here and there.

For me, that would become pretty dull in no time…Especially with base layers that I can use in my daily life – not only when going on a hike. 

I hope I could cover some basic points regarding Woolx and how it compares to other leading brands. The most important takeaway here is clothing yourself in merino wool goodness! That’s a huge leap from synthetic fibers or even normal wool. Seriously.

So, yeah…If you have any additional questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments. I’ll be glad to help out!

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!