Merino wool fibers are some of the finest found in nature. It is the tiny diameter of the fibers that allows it to be worn directly next to your skin without any irritation or itch. Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep breed which is only found in specific natural environments. The wool growers in New Zealand and Australia have refined the wool sorting process to produce soft, durable wool for next to skin applications.
The composition of wool makes it warm, water-repellent, odor-resistant, flame-retardant, durable, anti-static, and a UV protector. Wool is 90% keratin – a tough, insoluble, fibrous protein also found in hair, finger nails, horns, hooves and the outer layer of skin. A wool fiber can be bent and twisted more than 20,000 times before it will break. This elasticity as well as the microscopic diameter of each strand of wool creates a soft, comfortable, fabric that is perfect for hunters in all types of conditions.
There are a number of aspects of the physical and chemical structure of Australian Merino that make it naturally more resistant to odors than other textiles, especially synthetics.
Moisture Transport – While sweat itself has no odor, if it remains on the skin in time bacteria develop and create unpleasant body odors. Merino reduces the opportunity for odors to generate because it is more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and evaporating it into the air.
No Microbial attraction – Studies have shown that bacteria are more attracted to the smooth, positively charged surface of a synthetic fiber than the scaly surface of a Merino fiber which carries no charge.
Moisture Absorption – The Merino has a much greater capacity than other fibers to absorb moisture. In fact, it can absorb 35% of its own weight in liquid. The moisture is bound within the structure, and so is not available to microbes, which are unable to penetrate the scaly surface of the fiber.
Glass Transition – In water and conditions of high humidity, Merino passes through what is termed a glass transition at which point it dramatically increases its rate of absorption and dispersion.
Trapping Odors – The rate of diffusion of small and large molecules into the fiber increases and it is able to absorb odors faster. When the temperature drops, and the fiber once again falls below the glass transition, the odors are trapped within the structure even if the moisture evaporates. Later, during laundering, the garment again passes through the glass transition point and the odors are carried out of the structure by the water. Synthetics are not able to benefit from this same effect because they do not pass through glass transition during normal wear.
Each wool fiber is covered with tiny scales like tiles or shingles on a roof that help shed water, rain or spills. But wool is full of contrasts and paradoxes that give it outstanding high performance for cold weather activities. The interior (called the cortex) of wool fiber can hold up to 30% of its weight in moisture without the wool fabric feeling damp or clammy, while the exterior (called the cuticle) is water repelling.
Also, when moisture enters the wool fiber, energy is released in the form of heat which helps keep the outdoor enthusiast warm. The high performance characteristics of wool help keep the wearer warm in the winter and cool in the summer by naturally maintaining a comfortable balance in the wearer’s personal micro climate – that is the air between the skin and the layers of clothing. This means that in warm weather fine wool helps keep the wearer cool by transferring heat and body moisture away from the body for a naturally cooling effect
If you read this and don’t want to try the wool, I don’t know what to tell you. If you do want to try some, give us a call and we’ll figure out what items best suit your hunting.