When things warm up, most of us grab for lighter clothes that are usually made of cotton. It just seems the right thing to do. And there's nothing wrong with that. However, there is a better alternative when considering the fabric of your summer clothes - merino wool.
Yes, wool. That quintessential cold-weather insulator. Many of us associate wool products with their winter wardrobes and it may sound odd at first but merino wool is in fact perfect for all year round use thanks to its thermoregulatory attributes.
Study carried out by the University of Otago (link) showed that when 10 trained men wore T-shirts in three different fabrics in temperatures of 8°C and 32°C, woollen T-shirts came out as winners in both cases and were the most comfortable to wear. More precisely, study subjects who wore polyester started sweating after 9 minutes but at the same time, those wearing merino wool started sweating around the 15 minute mark.
SO, WHAT IS THE SECRET?
Merino wool is a natural fibre sourced from the coats of merino sheep. Merino sheep is one of the world’s oldest and bulkiest breeds of sheep. It’s like the heavy-weight champion of sheep – big, resilient, and able to stand up to just about anything nature throws its way. Unlike the sheep you might see grazing in the lowlands, merinos live in extreme environments and at high elevations. Therefore, their fleece is built for these extreme cold (temperatures of around -20°C ) as well as hot (temperatures of around 35°C) conditions; insulating and warm in the winter yet breathable and lightweight in the summer. That’s exactly how merino wool products perform for us when we’re wearing them.
FEELS COOLER, RESISTS ODOR, PROTECTS YOU FROM UV
Not only has merino wool thermoregulatory attributes but there are also other natural qualities which make it a wardrobe staple during summer. Here are 5 other reasons why you should choose merino when it gets hot:
- YOU’RE NOT A FAN OF OVERHEATING AND YOU’D LIKE YOUR CLOTHING TO BE BREATHABLE: As said previously, merino wool is a great thermo-regulator. It absorbs and evaporates moisture more effectively than most other textiles (it can absorb 30% of its own weight in moisture before you start to feel wet), making it a very good body temperature regulator when worn next to the skin. As your body warms up, the moisture within the fibre will begin to evaporate, cooling the air between your skin and the fabric. The more breathable a material is, the better it is at removing moisture (aka sweat) from the space between your skin and garment and releasing it to the drier environment outside. This means it keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, making it the perfect clothing for both outdoor and indoor adventures.
- YOU LIKE TO BE COMFORTABLE: Usually, when you think of wool, you would also assume its itchy. However, this is not the case with merino wool because when put next to skin it feels almost as soft as cashmere. Therefore, when wearing it, you will feel great from the moment you put it on. How come? This has everything to do with the thickness of the fibre. Standard wool has larger, broader fibres that are less flexible and irritate your skin. Merino fibres are thinner and softly bend in contact with your body, giving you all the comfort you need to keep moving for hours.
- YOU WANT TO HAVE PROTECTION FROM THE SUN: Merino wool helps to naturally protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun and does it far better than more traditional summer fabrics such as cotton. How does it do it? Wool absorbs UV radiation providing protection from the sun, just as it does for sheep grazing in the fields all day long. Most merino products have a UV factor of between 30-50 UVP. Although wearing merino wool doesn’t mean that you should stop wearing sun cream, it still adds another layer of protection against harmful rays.
- YOU LIKE TO STAY FRESH: Merino wool helps you to stay fresh even during the hottest summer days when things get sweaty. How? The lanolin found in the fibre gives merino wool products anti-bacterial properties (as mentioned earlier then wool is so good at effectively wicking away moisture that the odour-causing bacteria don’t have the moist environment they need to thrive). This helps preventing odour, meaning that your clothes can be worn for days without being washed. Just let them breathe every once in a while and you are ready to go again.
- YOU SUPPORT SUSTAINABILTY: Merino wool is a renewable and biodegradable fibre making it good for the environment. Also, it is long lasting meaning its fibres are incredibly strong and can bend over 20,000 times without breaking. This allows your clothes to last for many seasons without losing shape or becoming torn. Therefore, you will get a timeless, versatile piece that is designed to last.
LESS IS MORE
All of this equates to a longer time between washes and your merino garments fold neatly without wrinkling (like cotton or linen) and work well in various climates and social settings. This makes them perfect for traveling as your clothes won’t crease in your backpack or suitcase and you’ll have more time to enjoy the summer.
And that’s why we developed our own line of merino wool clothing that is perfect for your summer wardrobe. Check it out here.
- The right wool for summer? That'd be a lightweight one. Read also what weight to choose here.