Merino Wool – Superfine wool
Merino wool is a luxury of the modern world but this luxurious material, like all wool, started out on the back of a very special breed of sheep. The merino is an economically influential breed of sheep that is prized for its wool for obvious reasons. Its wool is the finest and softest of any sheep currently in existence. For these reasons, it is bred predominantly for this wool which tends to be finely crimped and soft.
Saxon merino sheep produce 3-6kg of greasy wool a year, whereas a good quality Peppin merino ram produces up to 18kg. The ultra fine wool is suitable for blending with other fibres such as silk and cashmere; New Zealand has long been in the market producing lightweight knits from merino wool and possum fur.
The most common application of merino wool is in high-end performance athletic wear, for sports and activities such as running, hiking, skiing, climbing, cycling and any other outdoor aerobic activity. There are a number of contributing factors that allow merino to command a premium over synthetic fabrics. Some have been listed below:
Benefits of Merino Wool
- Merino wool is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn close against the skin. Wool provides warmth without overheating and draws moisture, such as sweat, away from the skin. This phenomenon is known as wicking. The fabric is slightly moisture repellent, which allows the user to avoid the feeling of wetness.
- Much like cotton, wool is capable of absorbing water up to 1/3 of its weight, but unlike cotton retains warmth when wet which helps combat the onset of hypothermia after strenuous workouts.
- Merino wool has anti-bacterial properties which cause the fabric to resist odours produced through sweating.
- Merino wool is so soft due to a high content of fine fibres and smaller scales.
- Merino wool has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to synthetics and other wools as the fine fibres contain microscopic cortexes of dead air, which trap body heat and warms the wearer much in the same way that a sleeping bag warms its occupant.
All these factors make merino wool a highly sought after product in the market today, and a luxurious material to wear.