Wabi Woolens Long-Sleeve Jersey

Every now and then I encounter a product so well done, so dialed in conception and execution that I end up at a loss for words. It’s as if the reviewer in me comes up against a massive existential, “Well yeah.” Were I French, then I’d be thinking, “Mais oui.” And while I’m not French, I mention that phrase because it goes “duh” one better, because the literal translation of mais oui is “but yes.” It’s an “of course” of a different feather.

Which is what brings me to the Wabi Woolens Sport Series Merino long-sleeve jersey. Merino wool is one of those phrases that when sighted on a hang tag makes most riders I know go, “ooh.” It conveys such a level of quality and comfort it’s as if those two words alone should command a 40 percent upcharge. Unfortunately, most Merino items I encounter ought to include the term alleged as an honorific. The difference between the very softest Merino items I own (typified by my Swobo base layer) to the coarsest (as exemplified by a pair of off-brand socks that really deserve a liner between me and them) can only be measured in orders of magnitude. It’s a bit like noting that the Ferrari 458 and Ford Focus are both cars. I mean, yes, but….

The Wabi Woolens jersey is arguably the best example of the Merino wool jersey I’ve ever worn. I’l note that it lacks the visual presentation of the old-school jerseys that enjoy that vaguely furry look found in women’s Cashmere sweaters, which is a little perceptual detail I really love, but for that one negligible exception, everything else about this jersey is what you want from a long-sleeve jersey.

I’m going to try not to belabor the point. The Merino is softer than baby bunnies. Wear a base layer with this jersey and the UN will write a resolution banning you from international travel for crimes against sheep. A common problem with Merino jerseys is stretch; I’ve loaded the pockets up on this thing for a three-hour ride and have yet to discover the tail of the jersey getting caught on my saddle. And they aren’t small pockets.

Wabi Woolens is based in Portland (Oregon, of course, not Maine) and like most products from Portland companies I encounter, there is a deep vein of practical running through this jersey. There’s a fourth, zippered pocket for a house key or other important (but small) item. The rear hem of the jersey is lined with a gripper to keep it positioned at the small of your back. And while some folks may prefer a full zipper, they use a high-quality 12-inch zipper which gives adequate ventilation. The cuffs and collar get a touch of added Lycra to help them retain their, but other than that, this is 100-percent Merino wool.

One of the traditional trouble points for long-sleeve jerseys—and jackets, for that matter—is sleeve length. Over the years most of the long-sleeve jerseys I’ve worn have had the dubious distinction of being equipped with sleeves that were too long by an inch or more. This thing is spot-on, at least for my arms. Lest you think I’m part T. Rex, I should mention that I buy my shirts off the rack.

My red jersey is less stop sign in color than brick, so it doesn’t completely agree with the color in this photo. I’ll admit that I’m not normally one to wear a completely plain jersey; I’m usually in my RKP or some other team-style kit, but there are times when a really plain-looking jersey and a pair of black bibs really suits my mood. And for those days, this jersey is perfect.

The jersey I wore goes for $175 (the short sleeve is $160) and while that’s a fair amount of money for a jersey, here’s another detail that I think help justifies it: I wore this jersey in weather as cool as 50 degrees and as warm as 75 degrees (that was an unexpected development that day), but I stayed comfortable throughout. So when evaluating the price, maybe the question to ask yourself is what versatility is worth.

Simply put, this is why people buy Merino wool jerseys.


  1. randomactsofcycling

    Oh how I would love to wear more wool! I love that it doesn’t seem to smell even when I do and it seems to ‘breathe’ even better than all the hi-tech fabrics that have been developed by NASA. How high is the collar on this one? It seems a little higher than usual. I wear my helmet strap a little looser than I probably should, an it annoys me if a collar or a zip tab rubs against it.

  2. dstan58

    This looks like an outstanding piece. I still break out my Pro-Togs wool jersey (from 1979) for those special rides. If I may, I’d also urge all to check out SmartWool for base layers and socks. Great stuff and a good company as well. http://www.smartwool.com . No, I do not work for them, just a satisfied woolens customer.

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  4. Too Tall

    Wabi Wollens matter. Harth single handed has slayed all the players in what has become a crowded field of boutique cycle sports clothing makers. Also, ff you are tall and tubular like myself there is a easter egg for those who seek. Look at his sizing, it is true to measure rather than the usual and run of the mill, yuck yuck, goods that are often sized to allow for two of me in one of THOSE!!! Take me now, I’ve gone to heaven in a Wabi Wollen Long Sleeve Jersey.

    A you Wabi-Worthy?

    Peace, TT

  5. Christian Edstrom

    I can only agree. I have a Wabi Woolens winter jersey and it is, far and away, the best piece of cycling kit I own. Better than Assos, Rapha, Ibex, Smartwool, Icrebreaker, etc. Simply amazing quality. Mine is 5-6 years old, my most worn winter jersey, and still looks and feels new.

  6. Mark

    Merino is fabulous stuff. The fit, though, is perhaps more important than with the stretchier synthetics. If you can’t find jerseys to fit you well, you might want to look at merino tops for backpacking and climbing and use them as baselayers; add a bike jersey for pockets. For example, Icebreaker tends to run long and skinny, while Ibex and Patagonia tend to run large. Just a suggestion for non-standard-sized cyclists.

  7. Jason Musgrave

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times – my Wabi Woolens is without a doubt the single finest piece of kit I own. Sizing is spot on with long options to fit tall/skinny people like me without being loose…

  8. sonja

    Where might a girl find a comparable caliber woolen jersey? I have a couple old long sleeve Swobo jerseys that I love for winter, but it is time to replace the old tattered things. It has been tough finding similar quality jerseys in a women’s specific cut. Any suggestions?

  9. Carrie H.

    Can’t really give Wabi a thumbs up. First jersey I bought shrank like made and I did not use warm water nor even put the jersey within 10 feet of a clothes dryer. So I figured Ok maybe I got a one-off… After a few more washings it shrank even more until it was like a mini-top.. ;( I contacted Harth and made a complaint. I kind of got the feeling he knew there were issues with the fabric and that it was of no surprise. Being that I like to patron the independent biz’s I did decide to try another, this one for my husband. OMG… what horrid quality. The seams were lumpy, and one of the serged seams came undone somehow and started to unravel… I spend almost $200 on this jersey and it falls apart after one wear…??!!! I sure hope others have better luck because there are soooo many other choices for wool jerseys out there… And I would much prefer to spend my money and buy a well made jersey from a business who actually seems to know what they are doing, rather than someone who started their biz as a hobby… Just my 2-cents..

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