Wool is Nature’s Own Performance Fabric!
To the uninitiated, the idea of wearing a wool baselayer or midlayer to keep warm may seem strange, while wearing a wool t-shirt, underwear or tank top in the summer sounds crazy! Wool has established a reputation for being itchy, irritating, heavy and unrelentingly hot. The debate over synthetic vs. wool has re-emerged with the proliferation of small-diameter Merino wool fibers that brand like Ibex, Icebreaker and Smartwool utilize in both high performance outdoor clothing and casual-wear. Merino takes all of the stereotypes about wool and turns them upside-down! Modern wool fabric has incredible performance benefits over synthetics and is a great addition to your technical wardrobe.
Benefits of Wool:
Natural, renewable fiber- Wool comes from sheep and is a renewable source of material! Using wool in clothing is great for the environment
Highly Breathable- Wool garments are naturally breathable down to the fiber level. While synthetics only breathe through pores in between the fibers in the fabric, wool fibers naturally allow air to flow. The breathability of wool will not feel clammy when you sweat and will prevent you from overheating.
Wool keeps you dry- Wool fibers wick moisture away from your skin and can absorb around 30% of their weight before you feel wet. This moisture is then released from the fabric through evaporation.
Wool doesn’t stink!- Merino wool products are highly odor resistant due to natural, anti-microbal properties that don’t allow bacteria to bind and subsequently grow on the fibers in the fabric.
Warm even when wet- When fibers absorb moisture, they also release small amounts of heat, which can help you stay warm on cool, wet day.
Excellent temperature regulation- Thin fibers allow tiny air pockets in the fabric to trap your body heat, which provides superb insulation. As moisture evaporates on hot days, the air in these pockets cools and keeps you feeling comfortable.
High warmth to weight ratio- A wool shirt is significantly warmer than a synthetic shirt of the same fabric weight weight.
Soft skin feel, not itchy- Wool fibers are treated to reduce the prominence of natural scales, which cause the rough, itchy feel of old wool products. Merino wool is also made up of small diameter fibers that are not prickly or irritating.
Both absorbs and repels water- The cortex of the fiber absorbs moisture, while the epicuticle scales on the outside of the fiber are hydrophobic. This allows wool to simultaneously absorb moisture from your skin, while resisting external moisture like rain or snow. The scales also give a wool garment a dry skin-feel even after it has absorbed moisture.
Very low flammability- Wool naturally extinguishes itself and will not catch on fire. It will also not melt or stick to your skin like synthetics will.