A Clothing Layer Guide for Every Outdoor Activity
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.
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