One Editor Swears by These Cool, Comfy, and Anti-odor Layers for Travel and Workouts

Smartwool’s breathable tops and leggings are perfect for sprinting between airport gates or running your favorite trail.

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Photo: Courtesy of Smart Wool

One of my favorite things about being an on-again, off-again runner is amassing a running wardrobe full of comfortable, performance-driven, and stylish pieces. I've also invested in several pairs of sneakers to support my finicky knees, and I love how many uses I get out of those. But until recently, I wouldn't say that I'd throw on my athletic leggings or tops to do anything (or be seen anywhere) other than run.

That all changed after Smartwool, a brand that weaves merino wool into the fabrication of all of its clothing, sent me a few samples to test out. At first, I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical that these leggings, tops, and socks were going to wick away sweat and stay breathable against my skin as I jogged around a sweltering New York City in 90-degree heat — each piece is 53 to 87 percent wool. According to the brand, its "responsibly sourced Merino wool" is designed to "provide moisture management and thermoregulation," and I'm happy to share that these pieces lived up to their promises and made me absolutely eat my words.

smartwool fashion
Courtesy of Smart Wool

To buy; smartwool.com, $80

These leggings allow for more airflow than any other pair I've owned, full stop. When I first pulled them on, I was worried that the thick, compression material was going to feel constricting and make me boil in the heat, but that wasn't the case. As I ran, I felt the wind pass through them and, despite the temperature, they never felt sweaty or damp.

The leggings are comfortable, but I requested one size larger based on reviews and wouldn't make this choice again. The waistband is the true hero here, however, and its snug fit meant I didn't have to constantly adjust them while I was running since they stayed in place. Also nice: There's a pocket for my phone and another zippered pocket for safe keeping of things like a credit card, ID, and key.

What's more, these leggings come in three colors and several length options among the dozens of designs on the site, and I could see them easily taking me from my jog to brunch to running errands on the weekend, hiking, or sightseeing.

smartwool fashion
Courtesy of Smart Wool

To buy; smartwool.com, $85

I'm a lover of cozy and comfy and have been know to work out in long sleeves — even during the summer. I might have received a few sideways glances, but jogging in this long-sleeve T-shirt made out of merino wool was a breeze. It was breathable, allowing air to pass through to keep me cool during my run, but it also kept me from freezing after returning home to an air conditioned room that usually makes me shiver.

Thanks to the temperature-regulating merino wool, this long-sleeve shirt not only makes an ideal workout top, but it could also double as the perfect base layer for camping or hiking through constantly changing temperatures and altitudes. Not to mention, it is a great cozy layer for keeping me comfortable on long-haul flights.

The material feels impossibly thin for how hard it works, and I'm excited to be able to pack several of each in different colors for my next trip as they take up relatively little space once rolled up. The top is slim fit (yet true to size), and could easily pass for a long sleeve shirt that isn't built for performance and activities, making it versatile enough to invest in a few of the nine colors. Plus, there's a short-sleeve option for when the heat and humidity forces even me to ditch the sleeves.

If packable, breathable layering pieces sound like something you should be adding to your travel and activewear wardrobe, check out Smartwool's collection of surprisingly lightweight merino wool clothes today. Even with the higher price points, the quality, comfort, and versatility of these items makes them well worth the investment.

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