Merino wool is 100 % natural sheep wool without any synthetic materials added. This wool is obtained from a specially bred merino sheep grazed in the humid and colder climate of Australia and New Zealand throughout the year. The merino wool fibers are much finer than those of traditional wool. One of the most critical characteristics of merino wool is maintaining an ideal microclimate while wearing it. Unlike synthetic materials, merino wool is also highly breathable, regulating moisture and body temperature.
The Black Hill Outdoor products are made of fine merino wool fibers with 18 to 23 micrometers thicknesses. The fiber diameter measured in micrometers (microns) specifies the wool's softness. The smaller the number, the softer the fiber is; thus, fiber thickness is critical. The merino sheep wool, with a thickness of 15 to 25 microns, is lovely, quiet, and has less shine. The wool with a fiber thickness of 15 to 21 microns is used to make clothing worn next to the skin. Wool with a fiber thickness of 30 to 40 microns is more rigid, bends more complex, and does not adapt and move around the body as the merino wool fibers do. The wool of sheep commonly raised in Slovakia has a fiber thickness of 37 microns and more. Thicker fibers can have unpleasant prickling and itching feeling on the skin. Thinner fibers do not scratch as they softly bend when pressed against the skin.
Moisture management is one of the important wool characteristics in terms of functionality. The fiber surface repels moisture (it is hydrophobic) and draws it away from the skin. The moisture either evaporates, or wool absorbs the water inside its fiber core (it is hydrophilic) in case there is another layer of clothing on top of the one made of merino wool. Merino wool fiber is highly hydrophilic, which means it can absorb much skin moisture. The 100 % pure merino wool clothing can absorb body moisture up to 35 % of its volume without the person feeling any difference. That means merino wool keeps one warm and maintains the feeling of dryness even though it is wet.
The merino wool has excellent thermoregulation characteristics. The wool is superbly insulating. Even when wet, it can absorb and draw away moisture. In summer, wool has a cooling effect; inversely, it is warm when worn in winter. Your body will keep the same temperature even when you change the intensity of your movement. The merino wool fiber absorbs skin moisture when cold and humid outside, creating so-called sorptive warmth. In the summer, merino wool regulates temperature by the cooling evaporating process, which creates a cooling effect on the skin. Thanks to these characteristics of merino wool, you can wear Black Hill Outdoor products year-round.
The wool is a protein fiber that binds harmful substances, including viruses and bacteria and eliminates their decomposition and reproduction. Fine wool's ability to absorb moisture and fragmented fibers, irregular surface, and high lanolin content is why woolen clothing does not smell even after repeated wearing. The odor is caused by bacteria that prefer smooth fibers and unprotected surfaces, which is why bacteria like synthetic materials. For woolen clothing, it is usually enough to air it outside. This way, it will eliminate odors themselves.
The irregular surface structure of fiber with fiber's natural twist formed by the microscopic scales gives wool the ability to breathe. Due to this inner structure, the woolen fabric is highly breathable, even when dense. While wearing merino you do not have the feeling of clamminess or filthiness. Synthetic fibers do not have this kind of performance. Their ability to breathe is limited and determined only by the number of gaps in the fabric.
HIGH UV PROTECTION
Merino wool provides UV protection, and it eliminates UV radiation effects. It has a natural SPF of 25 and more, which many synthetic fibers do not reach.
Water and protein give the wool its natural fire-resistant ability. Then wool burns at a much higher temperature than synthetic fibers. Though initially, the flame can smolder, it does not ignite. Wool does not melt or stick to the skin compared to synthetic fibers.
Merino wool is a naturally biodegradable and renewable fiber source. After a few years, the wool decomposes in the soil and does not burden the environment.
Merino wool eliminates bacteria, mites, and other microorganisms. There are known no allergic reactions to the merino wool. This characteristic should not be mistaken for an allergic reaction to standard wool with a high micron diameter (high fiber thickness).
Merino wool contains lanolin (a fatty substance called wool wax or grease). The wool is antistatic, repels dirt, and protects it from bacteria and other microorganisms. The lanolin guarantees a high level of self-cleaning ability even when you wear the clothes for a long time.
Each merino wool fiber is like a coiled spring that returns to its natural shape after being bent and is naturally elastic. This ensures a high resistance and prolonged durability of the clothing. The knitted woolen dress can extend by as much as 30 % and recovers into shape after a wash. Thanks to fiber elasticity, woolen clothing does not wrinkle.