What are the advantages of merino wool in outdoor apparel?

Merino wool is a renewable, natural raw material and comes from the merino sheep. The difference to other types of virgin wool is the fiber thickness: Merino fibers are particularly fine and soft. Unlike “conventional” wool, Merino fibers do not feel scratchy on the skin.

Besides, merino wool – like wool in general – has many other favorable properties: it insulates very well, transports moisture away from the body, has odor-neutralizing properties and is self-cleaning




What are clothes made of merino wool suitable for?

Clothing made of merino wool is suitable for everyday life as well as for sports. As functional clothing, it is particularly suitable for sports where activity and rest phases alternate more frequently, for example, skiing. When ski touring, hiking, running and cycling, merino clothing prevents cooling and ensures good temperature regulation.

Besides, it is ideal for tours where you can not change clothes so often because of weight or because the washing possibilities are limited – such as trekking, hut tours or backpacker trips. You can wear a shirt made of merino wool for several days without scaring away fellow hikers and travelers with the smell of sweat. Merino clothing is also very easy to care for.


What types of merino clothing are there?

Merino long sleeves, T-shirts, and merino socks are very popular with ski tourers, hikers, and trekkers due to merino wool’s aforementioned natural properties.

When it comes to direct skin contact, outdoor athletes also like to use underwear made of merino wool. Depending on the material’s thickness, it can provide cooling on warm summer days or keep the body warm in icy temperatures. Besides, the natural fiber offers excellent wearing comfort.

Also, in mid-layers such as fleece jackets and sweaters and in hardshell jackets, merino wool is used as a lining.







Ortovox and Icebreaker guarantee the renunciation of mulesing and focus on sustainable agriculture.


Why does merino outdoor apparel usually contain synthetic fibers?

It increases the material’s functionality by combining the advantages of synthetic fibers with those of merino wool. Usually, synthetic fibers are used to make the material more durable. For example, a small amount of spandex makes the fabric more stretchy, and increases tear resistance.

Besides, merino synthetic fiber blends dry faster and improve moisture transport.

Products made from pure merino wool are offered by Ortovox, Devold (Norway), Bergans (Norwy) or Smartwool.


How can I recognize good quality Merino clothing?

    You can tell the quality of the fabric by the fineness of the merino wool. Different fiber thicknesses can be processed. The fiber thickness is measured in microns and usually ranges between 17 and 25 microns for manufacturers. The lower the thickness measured in microns, the softer and finer the merino fabric feels.

A distinction is made among the following quality levels:

  • ultrafine: 16.9 microns maximum.
  • superfine: 17 to 18.9 microns
  • fine: 19 to 21.9 microns
  • medium: 22 to 23.9 microns
  • strong: 24 to 25.9 microns


Merino wool is becoming increasingly popular, so merino wool products are being advertised more and more frequently. But beware. Not every merino wool T-shirt or merino wool sweater is also entirely made of merino wool. A look at the label often reveals that only a small part of the outstanding material has been processed. The fabric is often processed with much cheaper and synthetic fibers, such as polyester, elastane or even viscose.

Merino wool has its price because it is a natural product that grows slowly and requires optimal conditions during the growth phases. Just as the price increases with the quality of the wool, so do the processing costs.

Please also ensure that the merino wool is obtained sustainably and under perfect conditions for the merino sheep

The first thing you should look at is the processing of the seams. These should be very well sewn and ideally be a double seam. In this way, you protect yourself from the fact that it quickly comes to tears or a stitch run at the seams.

quality Merino Wool cloth


Sustainability: What does good merino wool clothing cost?

Wool is a natural, renewable fiber and offers many advantages over functional clothing made from synthetic fibers.
However, when it comes to merino wool’s origin, you should make sure that the wool comes from countries or farms that demonstrably do not practice Mulesing – a painful practice for the sheep to prevent an infestation with parasites.

The price allows conclusions to be drawn about the production process. You must look at cheap Merino products in the low-price market with skepticism.

Preferable are brand manufacturers who pay attention to the quality and origin of the wool and take a stand on mulesing. You should, therefore, never save money on merino clothing.

Outdoor clothing from Icebreaker. Wool producers are not allowed to practice mulesing.


How do I care for merino clothing properly?

Merino wool clothing – like wool clothing in general – does not need to be washed often. As a rule, it is sufficient to simply air out the garment, preferably outside in damp weather. Then the self-cleaning effect of the fiber described above takes effect.

If you do need to wash your garment. The “How to wash merino wool” guide will help you answer all your questions about washing and drying merino.


Summarized: The most important properties of merino wool

  • Merino wool does not scratch the skin
  • Merino wool insulates very well against cold and also protects against heat
  • merino wool transports moisture very well to the outside
  • Merino wool can absorb up to one third of its dry weight in moisture
  • Merino wool cools by evaporation in warm temperatures
  • Merino wool also warms when it is damp, because it can actively generate heat through chemical processes
  • Merino wool does not stink and therefore needs washing less often
    Merino wool retains its fit or hardly wrinkles at all
  • Merino wool is flame retardant – unlike synthetic fibers
  • Merino wool has a natural sun protection factor of up to 50
  • Unlike synthetic materials, merino wool does not become statically charged
  • Merino wool is biodegradable

Maybe we could inspire them to buy a sustainably produced garment made of merino wool, if yes, then we hope you will have a lot of pleasure with it.


 * Disclosure: Links marked with Asterix or some picture links on world’s-finest-wool are affiliate links. 
All our work is reader-supported – when you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The decision is yours – whether you decide to buy something is entirely up to you.


Categories: MerinoWool

Marco Heitner

Marco is the author and creator of the World’s-Finest-Wool.com and holds the "Wool Fibre Science" certification. He founded this website because of his love for nature, tradition and exquisite all-natural fibers like merino wool, cashmere, and alpaca. The way local communities interact with their environment and produce valuable, irreplaceable natural resources such as wool is inspiring.


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