La Niña must be snoozing this week, because summer has finally arrived! Perfect timing to dive into why wearing merino wool is the most comfortable way to get through the hot days.
Merino is one of the world’s most ancient breeds of sheep, with a fleece built to withstand extreme temperatures from -15°C to 35°C. The magical performance of Merino comes down to a quirk of evolutionary engineering that allows it to deal with heat and moisture in a unique way.
Think of it like Mother Nature’s aircon.
THE COOL IS IN THE CURL.
“Wool fabrics can move 25% more moisture away from your skin than polyester, equivalent to an ambient temperature drop of up to 4° Celsius.” - Woolmark
With a heritage stretching all the way back to 10,000 BC, wool is a fibre that has withstood the test of time. But not all wool is created equal and the difference is night and day between the itchy wool of grandma’s jumpers and our luxurious superfine (17.5 micron) merino wool.
When it comes to keeping cool (or warm for that matter), thermo-regulation is key and the natural curl of the Merino fibre – also known as the ‘crimp’ – creates a pocket of air between your skin and the fabric, making it act like a second skin and helping to regulate your body temperature as a result.
We’ve all experienced this air pocket keeping us warmer in winter – it's the scientific basis for layering – and c ounterintuitively, it also helps keep you cool in summer. How? By letting vapour pass through the microscopic pores of the fibre, conducting heat away from your skin in the process like magic.
We don't understand the science of thermodynamics, and the good news is that you don't have to either. Think of it like the fabric version of your insulated Keep Cup which nails both a flat white and an iced latte – keeping both at just the right temperature.
NO WET T-SHIRT CONTESTS HERE.
“Merino can absorb (and release) twice as much moisture vapour as cotton and up to 30 times as much as polyester” - Woolmark
It’s this buffer between the fabric and your skin – aka your own personal micro-climate – which works to stabilise not just temperature, but humidity as well. Merino clothing is therefore also more breathable than other fibre types, absorbing and releasing twice as much moisture vapour as cotton and up to 30 times as much as polyester!
At the same time, Merino can absorb and retain up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch. Which is why wearing wool is the equivalent to an ambient temperature drop of up to 4° Celsius, according to Woolmark.
In fact, the hotter and wetter it gets outside, the cooler and better you feel when wearing merino wool. We know this sounds crazy but it's true, which is what makes it ideal for humid Aussie summers.
SWEAT WITHOUT STINK.
“If you exercise in merino wool, you don’t have to wash it every time. And you shouldn’t, it’s not good for it.” - Rachel McQueen, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
And if all that wasn’t enough, Merino's unique chemical structure is able to absorb and lock in odours, making it naturally anti-microbial. More wears between washes means less work for you, and less stress on the planet at the same time. And in a feat of engineering that even Elon would applaud, the captured odours are only released through the process of washing.