Merino wool is an amazing natural fiber that comes from, you guessed it, Merino Sheep. If you're thinking to yourself, "yeah I've worn wool before and it was the itchiest experience of my life" then you had the misfortune of wearing a cheap pair of regular wool socks. Merino wool has extremely fine fibers compared to other breeds of sheep which makes merino incredibly soft and itch free in comparison. On top of being itch-free merino also has a long list of natural properties that truly make it a high-performance material.
Merino wool is great for regulating your body temperature while hiking, running or just hanging out. Think about it, merino sheep have to be able to adjust to hot and freezing temperatures without being able to remove a layer of clothing like we do, so their wool needs to adapt.
Merino wool fibers are naturally crimped and create more pockets of air than other fibers. And that trapped air insulates against the cold and keeps you feeling warmer, even when wet.
Merino wool fibers naturally store moisture. When the weather is warm, or you heat up from exertion the wool is warmed and that moisture begins to evaporate cooling your skin. Best of all, as you get warmer and produce more sweat the merino's evaporating effect increases to cool you even more (more on that in the next section).
Pro-Tip: Merino wool and synthetics both wick moisture, but only merino has the natural ability to move moisture away from your skin as vapor before it condenses.
Merino wool is a moisture management wonder. In fact, merino is so efficient at moisture regulation that it can absorb up to a third of its dry weight in moisture before feeling damp.
Merino wool is one of the most breathable materials around. Breathability is important in a sock because it allows sweat to escape and keeps your skin dry and blister free. You might be thinking that is just because it is a woven fiber with plenty of room for vapor to escape, but merino possesses several unique qualities that enhance breathability.
When wearing a merino wool sock initial sweat can escape as vapor, but when sweat starts to build up or you step in a puddle the merino wool will wick moisture mechanically with a capillary action away from your skin. This keeps your socks drier and protects your skin from irritation and blisters.
Because merino wool is so breathable and wicks so efficiently your socks will dry quickly. This is especially nice on a multi-day backpacking trip because you can wash your extra pair of socks and let them dry on the outside of your pack while you hike.
We already mentioned merino wool's ability to absorb an incredible amount of moisture before feeling wet and that is because while the inner core of the fiber can absorb up to a third of its weight in moisture, the surface of the fiber actually repels moisture. Merino wool fibers naturally have a wax-like coating that repels water so that it beads and rolls off instead of soaking into your socks. And nature made merino's wax coating durable enough that it won't be removed by regular washing.
Merino wool naturally resists odors and bacteria thanks to the amazing moisture management properties we just discussed. Merino wool breathes, wicks, and dries quickly so odor causing bacteria are inhibited. That makes wearing merino wool socks a big plus for backpacking.
Most people don't realize that merino wool is hypoallergenic. The dust mites that irritate many allergy and asthma sufferers thrive in warm and humid materials, like cotton and synthetic fibers. Because merino dries quickly it is not an appealing environment for mites. It should be noted that there are rare cases of people being allergic to wool directly, but for the majority of allergy sufferers merino wool is hypoallergenic and a great choice.
The itchy texture of traditional wool is due to larger diameter fibers. Large fibers are stiffer and coarser and that is what creates the itchy feeling on your skin. However, merino wool has very small diameter fiber that is flexible and smooth which results in an itch free and soft sock. As a comparison, a human hair is about 5 times thicker than a merino wool fiber.
Merino sheep rely on their wool to protect them from everything mother nature can dish out. Because of this merino wool is naturally hard-wearing, durable, and resilient. Merino wool fibers are flexible, stretchy, strong so that your socks are not only super soft but also durable and long lasting.
Merino wool is naturally flame retardant. When held to on open flame it will smolder, and self-extinguish rather than bursting into flames like cotton or melting like a synthetic fiber. This makes merino wool a safe choice for while camping.
One of the reasons clothing fresh out of the dryer can be full of static electricity is because it is extremely dry. Because merino wool fibers naturally retain some moisture inside the fiber they resist static buildup, making merino wool socks and clothing great for avoiding static.
The same waxy coating that makes merino wool water repellent also makes it stain resistant, because spilled liquids bead off before they have a chance to absorb.
Merino wool naturally protects you from the sun better than cotton or synthetic fibers. This makes merino wool socks and clothing perfect for outdoor adventures.
Merino wool is a natural and renewable fiber that feels great and you can feel good about wearing.
Merino sheep are primarily raised for wool and not for food, allowing the sheep to live long and happy lives. Each sheep grows a new fleece every year and harvesting the wool is no more bothersome than taking your dog to the groomer for a close-cropped summer haircut.
The production of merino wool has minimal impact on the environment compared to cotton or synthetic fibers. Cotton requires the use of many chemicals and pesticides and most synthetic fibers are petroleum-based. Merino sheep can be raised with few chemicals or pesticides which make it a good choice for the environment.
All CloudLine socks are proudly made in the USA with premium merino wool. We combine the best materials, trail tested designs, and American made quality to create socks so good we confidently back them with our 100% Lifetime Guarantee.
CloudLine ambassadors Justin and Patrice Lavigne live a life less ordinary. They are constantly doing what they love and that involves adventures like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2011, living in their van for months at a time, spending the summer guiding kids on outdoor adventures at summer camps, writing for Backpacker's Magazine, and in 2015 they thru-hiked New Zealand's long trail, Te Araroa.
Beginning May 1st, 2017 the Lavigne's will be hitting the road in their camper van to speak about their thru-hike of Te Araroa at 31 events across the country.