Merino wool, nature’s miracle fibre
What’s so special about merino wool, especially when it’s worn against the skin?
Quite a lot actually.
Here are a few reasons merino wool is the right choice when it comes to thermal base layers:
Thermo Regulation of the human body
Merino wool has been around for centuries. It’s the best insulator around. It kept early polar explorers and hikers warm and protected from frostbite for many years before man-made fibres like polyester and polypropylene were invented. Merino thermals continue to keep you warm in cold environments and likewise keep you cool on a hot day. How you may ask?
Merino wool utilizes a process known as “heat of sorption” to absorb and transport moisture away from the skin. In cold weather the crimp in wool fibres creates tiny pockets of trapped warm air that act as insulators, holding in heat next to the body. Unlike other fabrics wool retains much of its insulating properties when wet, a lifesaving feature in some scenarios. This same process has a cooling effect in warm weather, as wool releases moisture it absorbs heat from the wearer and traps cool air next to the skin. As wool pulls moisture away from your skin to evaporate you feel cool and dry even in hot weather. Truly nature’s miracle thermostat
Dampness Wicking and Breathability
Nothing keeps you comfortable and dry in wet circumstances like merino wool, yet how does merino wool wick dampness away from the wearer?
Merino wool filaments are naturally hydrophilic (love water), they draw in and retain water particles naturally. Merino wool can retain up to 30% of its own weight in water, at the same time feeling dry to the touch. As merino wool ingests water particles it pulls dampness away from the skin to the outer layer of the fabric where it evaporates.
Merino wool can deliver dampness into the atmosphere better than most other fibres. Not only does merino wool ‘wick” sweat from the body, but Merino wool can move water vapours from the body before the body gets a chance to perspire! Merino wool transports dampness and releases moisture through the fibres of the actual fabric itself. Merino wool’s capacity to wick away moisture from the body truly makes it one of the most breathable and comfortable fibres available to man.
Only Merino wool is the best fibre to keep you smelling fine after strenuous activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, skiing or a blistering outing in the sun, you could wear your Merino wool thermals for days on end without fostering a serious smell. What is it about merino wool that discourages smell so well?
The natural wax in merino wool, called lanolin, has antimicrobial properties that kill the microscopic organisms in sweat that create bad odours. What’s more, since merino wool manages moisture so well, bacteria do not have the damp conditions they need to survive. Being free of odour-causing bacterial microorganisms, merino wool thermals not only smell better at the end of a long strenuous day, but they don’t foster a long-lasting permanent smell that can’t be washed away unlike the man-made synthetic fibre garments are inclined to do.
Merino wool thermals are durable and hold their shape far longer than garments made from other fibres, however, what is it about Merino wool that resists wear and tear like no other?
Well, did you know that Merino wool fibres are principally made of Keratin, the very same protein that makes up human skin and hair! The interlocking structure of these molecules permits merino wool to be twisted bent and extended in all directions, more than 20,000 times without breaking.
Compared to silk and cotton which can only endure less than 5,000 bends and twists without breaking and nylon just 75 bends.
The natural twist of merino wool filaments additionally adds to the versatility of merino wool thermal wear, meaning they can be worn and washed over and over without losing their shape.
Merino wool’s natural insulating properties stem from its crimped structure, which traps air pockets, providing excellent heat retention. The high moisture-wicking ability of Merino wool allows it to absorb and release moisture, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable even during intense physical activities.
Moreover, Merino wool is inherently breathable, allowing excess heat and moisture to escape, preventing overheating. This feature is crucial for maintaining a comfortable body temperature in various environments, making Merino thermal underwear suitable for both cold and temperate conditions.
Merino wool possesses unique properties that make it ideal for thermal wear. Small fibre diameter, fine micron wool, creates a soft and itch-free fabric that feels comfortable and pleasant against the skin. The crimped structure of Merino wool fibres contributes to its natural elasticity and resilience, enabling the fabric to retain its shape even after repeated stretching and compression.