It is important to understand the benefits of wool for male clothing and apparel. Wool suits, wool socks, wool hats...why is wool so useful?
Wool is best for cold weather clothing, and is an incredible base layer fiber to use a year round. We are not talking about the scratchy hats your grandmother used to knit for you! It is a common misconception that wool clothing is think, prickly, and itchy. Merino wool is much finer, naturally more lightweight, and is much gentler against the skin than other types of wool. This is because of the fineness of the fiber strand.
The diameter of a strand of wool is measured in microns. Human hair is 60 microns in diameter, while merino wool can be about three times finer, at 17.5 microns. Since it can be such a thin fiber, it can be spun into different thicknesses. The different densities of garments are measured in grams. A lightweight, next-to-skin base layer used for warm weather would be 150g, using fibers of 17.5microns. A mid-weight base layer used for colder weather would be 230g, using fibers measuring between 18.5 and 21microns, and a heavier weight mid-layer piece could be 400-500g, using fibers about 24.5microns. It is important to have different weights of clothing depending on the temperatures and climate you are exposed to. A very lightweight base layer works well year round with any intense activity, and a mid-weight for any winter activities.
Wool is naturally grown from sheep, and it contains no artificial chemicals. A great quality of wool is that it naturally produces antimicrobial properties making more resistant to odors than other fabrics, especially synthetics (like Under Armour). While sweat itself has no odor, body odor is created when moisture on your skin develops bacteria. Wool reduces the opportunity for odors to generate because it is naturally more moisture wicking than all synthetic and other natural fibers. This is phenomenal for cooling your body, and wicking away body moisture. Similar natural moisture-wicking fibers, such as cotton, will absorb moisture but does not release it. If you wear cotton during the winter then the moisture in the cotton will freeze, speeding up the process of hypothermia. In the summer you will overheat for the same reason. It is common among our backpacking community that we remember “Friends don’t let friends wear cotton!”
Wool does not attract mold or bacteria, making it good for those who suffer from allergies. As you may know, moisture on your skin can cause hypothermia in cold weather, and overheating in warm weather. Wool releases moisture, keeping your body more dry and prevents dampness.
Technically speaking wool has balanced thermal insulation properties, and regulates your body temperature in all conditions. Wool will stay warm from your body heat in cold weather and also cooler in warm weather. The science behind this is that wool fibers contain air pockets, which create natural insulation when your body heat warms the air pockets. In contrast, the moisture wicking properties of wool keep you cool in warm weather. Even when wool gets wet on the trail or in the gym it will retain its insulating qualities. Many outdoor resources will strongly advise against using cotton. Wool also contains natural oil in the fibers, which make it resistant to bleaching, fading, oily stains, and sheds water and dirt. This also makes wool easy to wash and clean and maintain.
If you’re a true outdoorsman, you will be happy to know that it wool is resistant to high heats. It doesn’t hold a flame, and it will not melt like synthetics. Great wool garments can be created from the sheared wool of a sheep’s winter coat, harvested annually once the weather warms up without harming the animal or doing any damage to the environment.
Due to new technology in the processing of wool fiber, base layer wools are now machine washable. Many of the other layering pieces are also washable for easy care.
We carry multiple wool manufactures products in baselayer, midlayer , and outerlayers. Come by the store to compare the qualities and benefits of each one.