SmartWool has developed an interesting series of clothing in their Versawear (performance, comfort, and STYLE) line that has wool next to skin, and a double knit synthetic exterior surface. SmartWool is careful to say that the Synergy fabric is wind resistant, but not enough to be classified as a softshell. The Synergy garments come in men's and women's sizing and include a jacket, pullover, hoodie, and three styles of pants.
Photo: SmartWool's Gardner Flanigan strikes a pose in the Synergy Pullover.
If the Synergy fabric successfully combines the temperature regulation of wool with the moisture wicking and wind resistant properties of the double knit outer layer, these garments may be top performers in conditions cold enough that a thin wool baselayer is just not enough. Moisture management, i.e. not allowing the garment to become completely sweat soaked, will likely play a role in getting the best performance from these garments. Still, it'll be interesting to compare drying times for this top to a thin wool shirt layered under a thin synthetic shirt.