In this blog, we’ll cover:
- Benefits of merino wool
- Who makes merino wool products
- Our favourite picks for this summer
*All photos are from Smartwool unless otherwise specified.
Merino Wool Benefits:
- It’s natural and sustainable
- It’s soft
- Helps with temperature-regulating
- Keeps you dry and sweat-free
- UPF protection
Natural and Sustainable
What is merino wool made of? It’s a natural resource from a breed called merino sheep that can be found in most commonly Australia and New Zealand. One sheep can grow about 4 to 5 pounds of wool each year, making it a renewable fiber. These sheep are shorn once or twice a year, automatically growing out a new coat afterwards. What’s more is that merino wool is biodegradable, decomposing into earth’s ground after 12 months. It’ll take this fibrous protein (composed of amino acids) and release the carbon and nutrients back into the soil.
Perhaps the word “wool” makes you cringe and makes you think back to those itchy wool sweaters you used to get at Christmas. However, merino wool is the complete opposite of that because it’s made from lightweight, super fine wool fibers (about 1/3 the diameter of human hair). Since the wool fiber is so thin, it doesn’t have enough weight to stand up on it’s own, so when it comes into contact with the skin, it doesn’t feel prickly but instead provides an ultra-soft feeling. This is why merino wool base layers are so popular during the winter for skiing and snowboarding, especially here in Canada.
Merino wool does an excellent job at keeping body temperatures stable. This means that it’ll keep you warm in the winter and keep you cool when working up a sweat in the summer. How does it do that you might ask? Well when it’s cold outside, the fibers bend to trap air, helping insulate you. On the other hand when it’s a hot day, your body warms up and the moisture will begin to evaporate, keeping you dry and cool. This is one of the reasons why we wear merino wool all year-round in Canada! We wear it for all our outdoor activities including, skiing, touring, running, hiking, biking and paddle boarding.
Learn More: 4 must-haves to get started Paddle boarding
Dry and Sweat-free
Merino wool holds moisture extremely well and will absorb it more than the standard synthetic and cotton clothing you have. This means you are not left feeling wet, sweaty and clammy after a workout. Although, something to add is that merino wool keeps its insulating properties even when wet, so you won’t need to worry about getting cold when you’re working up a sweat.
Another benefit is that merino wool products are extremely breathable. The way the fibers are naturally allows for moisture wicking properties, allowing the air to pass through the garment easily so it can dry out. For that reason, most summer merino wool products are extremely lightweight and thin, like Smartwool’s 120 and 150 weight collections. These items are perfect for high output summer activities like biking and hiking.
Something we want to highlight is merino wool socks. This is usually the first piece of clothing that converts people into the merino wool life! It holds all the benefits we are outlining here but here’s an additional bonus: while merino socks keep your feet dry and sweat-free, they also prevent blisters from occurring when you are hiking or running. Nobody likes blisters – they’re painful, annoying and can turn your trip miserable. Consequently, the best way to tackle blisters is to prevent them in the first place. Something to keep in mind before you head out on your backpacking adventures this summer!
This is possibly our favourite reason for wearing merino wool! All merino products have the impressive ability to mask up odor by absorbing the bacteria and trapping their smell. Another reason why merino wool as your base layer is the best. It means you can wear the same base layer and socks for multiple days in a row without smelling (trust us, we’ve tested this). This also means less clothing to bring, saving space and weight in your bag on those longer treks or travelling trips. Additionally, when you get home, it’s less washing to do as well. A win – win situation all around!
Yes we won’t lie, merino wool products tend to be more expensive and is an initial investment. But another way to look at it is that you won’t need to buy that many pairs of socks, t shirts or sweaters because you can wear the same one for multiple days without smelling or doing as much laundry. Who wants to do laundry anyway?
Most merino wool garments will include UPF protection, helping block out harmful sun rays. This is especially important when adventuring in the mountains and in the summer (but also winter too!) Most of Smartwool’s products will have a UPF rating of 20 and some will even go up to UPF 50.
Yes that’s right! Merino wool is fire-resistant, so your favourite sweater won’t melt or burst into flames. Whereas nylon starts to melt around 320 degrees and polyester around 452 degrees. So now you can be rest assured your merino t shirt won’t get damaged when you’re around campfires!
Who makes merino wool products?
Smartwool makes some of the best merino wool products out there! They started making socks back in 1994 because they didn’t want their toes to get cold anymore. That’s when they discovered the benefits of merino wool and started incorporating it in all of their products. They have a great Go Far, Feel Good Guarantee, which ensures you’re 100% satisfied with every Smartwool product you purchase. So if you’re unhappy about your product within two years of purchasing, they will get you some new gear. This is one of the great reasons we are partnered to sell Smartwool products in our store. Shop their Spring Collection here.
Overall, if you’re someone who is looking for comfort and performance, we highly recommend trying merino wool. Even if your first step is to simply try a pair of socks! We’re sure you’ll notice a difference and come over to the dark side…
Our favourite Smartwool picks for the summer season:
1.Merino Sport 120 Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Perfect for the upcoming hiking season. This lightweight and breathable t shirt will keep you cool on the trails and you’ll thank yourself later for it. For anything from trail hikes to training runs, you’ll find all-day comfort in this t shirt. Made with a blend of responsibly sourced Merino wool and Tencel™ performance fabric. Comes in energizing summer colors for both Men and Women.
Comfort and style mashed together to make these shorts. We love wearing these shorts everywhere – hiking, biking, paddling and walking around town. They are so versatile! Their external stretch-woven fabric and fit are made for movement, and their next-to-skin Merino ensures breathability, moisture management, and thermoregulation. Featuring drawcord adjustability, numerous pockets, and a super-soft Merino-lined elastic waistband. The Men’s version is a 10″ length.
3. Seamless Racerback Sports Bra Ws
The softest bra we have ever tried on. Seriously. You should never have to compromise comfort on your next-to-skin layer, so this makes it an absolute must for your closet. It’s completely seamless so you don’t have to worry about chafing or itchiness – it’ll basically feel like you have nothing on! Also a big plus is that we can just bring this one bra on our summer hiking/backpacking trips and wear it for the entire duration (because it’ll be odor-free!) Comes in a strappy version as well if you’re looking for something a bit more stylish.
If you need any guidance on choosing your first merino wool product, don’t hesitate to reach out to our gear experts online through live chat or come visit us in-stores.