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