Why merino wool?
Merino wool is an amazing fabric. It is really soft, and isn't scratchy like “regular” wool. That's because Merino Wool fibers are much finer than standard sheep's wool.
Merino is super light but very warm – it has a weight to warmth metric other materials can't come close to. The fabric has a natural loft that traps heat very efficiently between the fibres, making it warmer than a synthetic of the same weight. But it's also good in the heat as Merino regulates your body temperature really well. Andy Murray loves to wear merino on the tennis courts even!
This makes Merino a 3 season material – it is called extrafine for a reason. It breathes, and unlike bulky wool sweaters can be layered in late September or fly solo in early May, and all the days in-between.
Here’s the nerd research behind it all:
Key to good fibres are the microns and crimp count.
Microns - Wool is measured in microns. It is the diameter of the follicle (through a microscope). In general, the smaller the micron count, the softer and more expensive the wool. Human hair varies from 40-90 microns so Merino, with its lower micron count is even finer!. Merino wool comes solely from a strain of Merino sheep bred for its wool. Average merino wool is about 21.5 microns, fine merino is 18.6-19.5 microns.
Crimp is the natural waviness of the fibre, the elasticity. The crimp in wool makes it soft to touch. It traps a large volume of air between the fibres, hence it’s good insulation properties. In general, the more crimp there is, the smaller is the diameter of the fibre, ie the lower the micron count. Merino is a finer wool and therefore has more crimp so drapes better than coarser wool with little crimp. Merino has up to 100 crimps per inch, more than either cashmere or lambswool.
One of the most important properties of merino wool is its strength or durability. Because of its high crimp count, it is also excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin. Moisture is wicked away from the body; the wearer is warm without being too hot. This is why Merino wool has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.
Additionally, merino contains lanolin with its useful antibacterial properties. For all these reasons, merino wool is often used for top quality outdoor clothing. We can even take you back with Merino being worn as far the Crusaders – another nod to the title Noble fabric….