Hiking should be a rewarding adventure that you get to enjoy. But to make the intense conditions more bearable, you need the right gear, and wearing clothes made from merino wool can be a great starting place. If you’re still on the fence about this sustainable fiber, here are the top five reasons why you should be wearing merino wool on your hikes.
If you’ve heard about merino wool at all, you’ve probably heard that it’s the softest wool out there because of the natural construction of the fibers and the lanolin it contains. While this is true, what exactly does all of that actually mean? The exterior cuticle cells naturally repel water and are smooth, thanks to lanolin: the waxy substance secreted out of the sheep’s sebaceous glands.
And because of its thin diameter (17 to 21 microns) and soft cuticle, it’s softer than human hair. However, if you want the softest merino wool out there, you want to get your hands on fiber that’s no more than 19 microns in diameter.
More Durable Than Most Fabrics
Although merino wool is durable, we don’t recommend tossing it in the washing machine on any setting. While it’s easy to wash by hand in cold water, you certainly don’t want it thrashing around in the machine. However, merino wool may not require as much washing as other fabrics anyway, as it’s stain resistant because the lanolin helps the fibers retain their moisture.
Can Keep You Warm and Cool
The structure of the wool fibers creates pockets of air because of the natural crimping; these air pockets trap air and are critical to keeping the air close to your body warm. However, despite how warm it can keep you, these air pockets also allow moisture to release back into the air. If your sweat isn’t allowed time to dry, it will only stay on your skin, and wet skin in cold weather is a fast way to get hypothermia. And while hiking on sunny days, you’ll be glad to know that merino wool naturally provides a sun protection rating of around 50 UPF.
Helps Keep You Dry
As mentioned, the air pockets of the fibers allow sweat to evaporate and keep you cool, which is a critical part of staying dry, warm, and not contracting hypothermia. But that’s not all! Lanolin is a natural “wooly wax” that is composed of lipids, and lipids are naturally hydrophobic. This makes it much harder for snow and rain to absorb into the clothing and make you colder.
Naturally Odor Resistant and Anti-Microbial
Merino wool is odor resistant because it’s anti-microbial. Anti-microbial is defined as an agent that kills or slows down the growth and spread of bacteria. In this case, the antimicrobial agent is lanolin, which naturally repels odor-causing bacteria. This is because bacteria need moisture to thrive and multiply’ since merino fibers are hydrophobic, bacteria can’t thrive on the fibers.
Now that you know why you should be wearing merino wool on your hikes, what’s stopping you from making your adventures a little more comfortable? Polarmax has high-quality merino wool thermals designed to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, so you can keep going no matter the conditions.