By Jeff Banowetz

Tribune News Service

Do you know the difference between being comfortable or miserable in the cold? A good wool base layer.

If that sounds overly simplistic, you probably aren’t taking advantage of the incredible insulating properties of wool.

Smartwool’s Merino 150 Base Layer — available for both men and women in bottoms, long-sleeve, and short-sleeve tops — is an excellent option whether on the slopes or shoveling the sidewalk.

Made of 87 percent Merino wool and 13 percent nylon, the fabric offers a smooth next-to-skin feel while still retaining wool’s insulation. The smooth flat-lock seams keep you from chafing, and the offset shoulder seams make carrying a pack comfortable.

The fabric is breathable and is great at wicking away moisture, so it’s a great performance fabric when you’re sweating during a ski run.

Yet it will still keep you warm on the chairlift ride back to the top. Merino wool has anti-bacterial properties that prevent it from stinking after use.

So quit shivering — put on a pair of bottoms and a long-sleeve top and go enjoy all that winter has to offer.