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Merino Wool

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What is merino wool?

Merino wool is high-quality wool that comes from merino sheep, which are primarily found in New Zealand. Soft, breathable, moisture-wicking and naturally odor-resistant, it’s an ideal fabric for active base layers.

This is not your grandparents’ itchy woolies. Merino wool has almost completely replaced traditional wool thanks to its soft, ultrafine fibers. Wool can also be blended with other fabrics, like spandex to enhance fit and flexibility. Merino wool has the following characteristics:

  • Wicks well: Some moisture in wool is retained in its core, which won’t chill you, but wool will not feel quite as dry as a synthetic fabric. It will also take longer to dry when it gets wet.
  • Cools, too: That moisture in the core of its fibers releases when temps heat up, which can offer a little bit of cooling in warm weather.
  • Moderately durable: Wear it under other layers and enjoy a long and happy life together; as a standalone top under heavy pack straps, it won’t last as long because the constant rubbing can wear through the fabric. You can also opt for a base layer that blends synthetic and wool for increased durability.
  • Odor free: Even if you don’t believe wool fanatics who report endless days of sweaty wear without a discouraging whiff, it’s absolutely true that wool is highly resistant (and naturally resistant) to odor-causing bacteria.

How do I care for merino wool?

In general, you should wash your merino base layers as infrequently as possible. (Most people can get three to four wears out of a merino wool garment before needing to wash it because of the odor, but this will vary depending on the person and the specific layer.) When you do wash your merino gear, consider handwashing it with a wool-specific soap. Avoid products containing bleach or fabric softeners, as these can damage and weaken the wool fibers, causing them to warp when they dry.