A Clothing Layer Guide for Every Outdoor Activity
Monday, March 29, 2010
Merino Wool Blends
Merino wool is an excellent fabric for keeping your feet dry, warm and comfortable. But you've probably noticed that many of the merino wool socks available contain a blend of merino wool and other synthetic fabrics. The reason for this is very simple. 100% Merino wool socks do not last as well as blended socks. While popular sock companies like Smart Wool are working on new knitting designs to improve the durability of merino wool socks, nothing lasts today as well as a blend of merino wool and some other popular synthetic fabrics.

You will typically find that merino wool hiking socks contain nylon or polyester as well as a small percentage of lycra/spandex. The lycra/spandex is there to help the sock stay up and keep its shape. Nylon and polyester are very durable fibers. When added to merino wool socks, they extend the life of the sock dramatically. A few years ago, I bought 2 pair of 100% merino wool socks. After just one summer of wearing them hiking, the heels and toes wore completely out of them. I bought the same model sock from the same company after they had changed up the sock a little and had added in some nylon. So far they've lasted me a whole summer of hiking and will likely last a couple more.

So, when you're shopping for some nice merino wool socks that you expect to last more than just a summer, you'll want to get a pair that have some nylon or polyester blended into the fabric.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Merino Wool Thermal Underwear
Within the last 3-4 years, merino wool has come to the forefront of athletic undergarments and thermal underwear. If you've shopped for such items recently you've likely seen merino wool products advertised and have probably wondered what all the hype is about.

In my opinion, synthetic fabrics still outperform natural fabrics. However, many outdoor enthusiasts have found that their skin can be quite sensitive to synthetic fabrics leaving them with no alternative. When considering all of the natural fabrics available for thermal underwear and other next to skin garments, merino wool is the fabric of choice. Let's take a look at the reasons.

Reason number 1: Wool fibers retain an excellent amount of heat and it also traps air well making it an excellent insulator. Just ask your nearest sheep.

Reason number 2: Wool Fibers are coated with natural oils from the sheep helping it to repel water. As a result, the wool absorbs little water and thus dries quickly.

Reason number 3: Wool also has the ability to retain heat even when it is wet. This makes it more favorable than cotton since cotton since cotton loses heat when it gets wet.

Essentially, wool has very similar characteristics to synthetic fabrics like polyester or polypropylene making it a great natural fabric for thermal insulation.

So what is the difference in regular Wool and Merino Wool? Merino wool comes from merino sheep. The wool from merino sheep is much finer making is softer and non-itchy like the wool of most other sheep. If you've ever worn a wool sweater you know what I'm referring to when I say itchy. Merino wool, especially the type found in high end garments is cottony soft. So merino wool products are the perfect natural garment to keep you warm and comfortable without putting up with the itchy feel of regular wool.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Polypropylene Sock Liners
Do your feet stay wet, cold and clammy when you're hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, exercising, etc? You might want to try some thin polypropylene sock liners by Fox River Mills. Polypropylene sock liners are great for warm or cold weather. The polypropylene fabric is designed to keep your feet nice and dry helping your feet to regulate their temperature better. Polypro sock liners are especially nice in the winter time because they add a layer of warmth to your feet while keeping them dry. Polypropylene retains more heat than any other fabric and it also absorbs less water than any other fabric. If you have trouble with smelly feet, you'll want the Fox River Polypro socks with x-static. X-static is an anti-bacteria fabric that prevents odor causing bacteria from developing in your socks.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Champion Sports Bras Always Top of Test Results
If you're an active woman, then you know how uncomfortable it is to wear the wrong sports bra. If you've found the right sports bra, chances are it is made by Champion. Champion has been the leader in women's athletic apparel for quite some time with receiving top spots in independent test results season after season. One of Champions top rated sports bras for this season is the Champion Power Back Underwire Sports Bra featured in this abc7 news article. For fuller figures, the Champion Action Shape Sports Bra was an all around favorite for comfort and performance. So, the next time you are shopping for the best looking, most comfortable, no bounce sports bra go for the Champion brand.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Polypropylene Fabric- What's With The Hype?
Polypropylene is a material that few people are aware of and even fewer know how to pronounce. But more and more performance clothing manufacturers are using polypropylene as a core fabric in their products. These manufacturers tout polypropylene's ability to keep the wearer warm, dry and comfortable during high aerobic activities such as running, hiking, skiing and snowboarding just to name a few. So what would make polypropylene fabrics an alternative to well known products like Under Armour? Polypropylene, like many other synthetic fabrics on the market today is a polymer or a plastic. This means that it is very lightweight and will absorb little if any water and instead repel water. As a result, polypropylene fabrics dry extremely fast. This feature is particularly useful for next to skin products such as socks and performance underwear. When worn next to your skin, polypropylene will stay dry and helps prevent chaffing and keeping comfortable throughout your aerobic activity.

Another very useful feature of polypropylene is it's ability to retain heat. Polypropylene retains more heat than any other fabric. This means that on top of being very lightweight, thermal underwear made of polypro will be warmer than long johns made of polyester or cotton fabrics.

One of the features I like about polypro is that it typically costs much less than other performance products. I can buy several sets of polypropylene thermals for the price of just one Under Armour thermal top. So the next time you are in the market for some performance active wear, you'll want to check the label to see if it is made of polypropylene.

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