Why is a mixed sweater bad

Merino wool purchase advice

Merino wool

The soft Natural fiber merino wool is not only on everyone's lips when it comes to outdoor clothing. Whether underwear, shirt or wool jacket - the fine, elastic material is incredibly popular. In summer as well as in winter. Why this is so and if rightly so, we will clarify in this consultation on the subject of merino wool.

If you look around our assortment, you will see that we have a large range of beautiful and at the same time functional merino products. The New Zealand company Icebreaker has a particularly extensive range. But many other companies such as Ortovox, Smartwool or super.natural are big names when it comes to merino wool. They also have an absolutely convincing range of merino underwear, merino shirts, as well as wool jackets and wool sweaters!

Where does merino wool actually come from?

Short answer: from the merino sheep! Today, 88% of the merino wool available worldwide comes from Australia. New Zealand is the second largest supplier, there is also merino wool from South Africa and South America (Uruguay, Patagonia).

What are the properties of merino wool?

Clothing or underwear made from merino wool has a whole range of good properties:

  • It's incredibly soft and elastic
  • It doesn't scratch
  • It is surprisingly odorless even after long periods of wear
  • It warms effectively and is relatively light
  • It warms in a pleasant, natural way even when it is damp
  • On the other hand, you don't overheat in merino wool
  • It doesn't dry as quickly as synthetic fibers, but it dries much faster than cotton
  • It offers natural UV protection (depending on the density of the material up to 50)
  • It does not become electrostatically charged
  • It is very dimensionally stable and wrinkle-free
  • It is a renewable, natural raw material

Why doesn't merino wool scratch?

The fiber strength of merino wool is so fine and thin (much finer than human hair or the wool of other sheep breeds) that the touch of merino wool on the skin feels different to that of normal wool. The ends of thicker fibers can "poke" the skin. Merino wool is simply too thin for this unpleasant effect.

However, there are very sensitive people who also have problems with merino wool. For these people, we recommend mixed merino fibers such as a blend of merino wool and modal. You will find further information on the mixed fibers at the very end of the purchase advice.

Why doesn't merino wool smell?

The fact that wool is so odorless is due to two properties: the protein keratin contained in wool and the flaky fiber surface of the wool. Keratin is a protein that breaks down the bacteria that cause odor. Sweat itself is odorless, but forms the breeding ground for bacteria that produce the typical sweat odors during their metabolic process. And the scaly surface of the wool makes it difficult for these skin bacteria to settle. A blessing!

Why is merino wool so effective?

The fine merino wool has a very strongly curled structure. This means that a lot of air is trapped in the spun yarn (which is made up of many individual fibers) - and air is known to be a poor conductor of heat and very effective insulation. Air ensures that the heat produced by the body is retained on the body. By the way, down works in the same way.

Why does merino wool keep you warm even when it is damp?

One of the reasons for this is that wool is a hollow fiber that can absorb a lot of moisture in the form of water vapor in its hollow interior (around a third of its own weight), but at the same time remains dry on the surface. A very remarkable property that causes damp woolen clothing to feel dry on the skin for a long time and also the typical evaporative cooling only sets in later than with other damp fibers.

How then is it possible that merino wool also cools?

When the outside temperature is high (and it is dry), the moisture absorbed in the voids of the wool is released again, it evaporates. Energy is required for this process - and this energy is withdrawn from the immediate environment in the form of heat (evaporative cooling).

However, this effect is not specific to merino wool, many synthetic fibers work on the same principle. Sometimes the evaporation cold in synthetic fiber shirts can even be perceived as a little too much of a good thing, since the shirts, in contrast to wool, absorb very little moisture and release it again quickly. This removes a lot of heat from the environment. This process takes place more evenly with wool because it stores more moisture.

Does merino wool also have disadvantages?

Yes. However, these disadvantages do not relate to the functionality of the wool, but to animal welfare. What is meant is the subject of mulesing, which fortunately is gaining more and more access to the public.

What is mulesing? Mulesing is the term for what illustrates the dark side of sheep farming in Australia (as a reminder: 88% of the wool comes from Australia): The upper layers of skin around the anus are cut out of the lambs without anesthesia. What remains is an open wound - and great pain. The reason for mulesing is the possible infestation of the sheep with fly maggots, which under certain circumstances nestle in the pronounced and dirty skin folds of the merino sheep around the anus. The sheep would perish miserably within a few days from the maggot infestation.

One of the alternatives to mulesing is the more frequent shearing of the described region around the anus, which makes keeping the merino sheep much more complex and therefore the wool more expensive. Breeding merino sheep, which have fewer skin folds, could also be a solution. This would reduce the yield and thus the price of the wool would also rise in this case ...

Unfortunately we cannot offer you a basic solution to this complex problem, but we can offer you our contribution: Globetrotter attaches great importance to having 100% mulesing-free merino wool in its range!

As already mentioned, we have the most extensive merino range from the New Zealand company Icebreaker. A company that takes animal welfare very seriously. Icebreaker entered into long-term contracts with sheep farmers many years ago in order to establish mutual trust, reliability and price stability. The breeders under contract with Icebreaker are prohibited from practicing mulesing. In addition, the principles of animal welfare are anchored.

Another piece of good news: at the end of 2018, mulesing was completely banned in New Zealand.

All other manufacturers in our range also use mulesing-free wool! Of course, we also pay attention to the more expensive, mulesing-free quality when purchasing the merino wool for our own brand Frilufts.

Ultimately, you have a great chance of influencing your buying behavior! When buying a product, ask where the wool comes from and whether the manufacturers use mulesing-free wool. You can be part of the solution by buying your merino products carefully.

What is the difference between virgin wool and merino wool?

Virgin wool simply means that it is new, non-recycled wool from living animals. Unless otherwise declared (i.e. as recycled wool), merino wool is always also new wool, even if it is not explicitly stated on it. Conversely, pure new wool does not have to be merino wool. It can come from any breed of sheep.

How do I wash merino wool? And how do I wash merino wool?

First of all, a basic and facilitating fact: Merino wool is surprisingly easy to care for. You can easily wash your merino products in the washing machine. Machine washing is even explicitly advised, not hand washing, as the mechanical load is too great when washing by hand. We recommend a gentle wash. It doesn't necessarily have to be the wool wash cycle, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a two-hour washing marathon either. It is very important to close all Velcro fasteners and zippers on all items of clothing in the washing machine. Pure merino wool cannot withstand mechanical stress, especially when it is damp.

When it comes to wool jackets or wool sweaters made of merino wool (which you don't really sweat through), it should be mentioned that it is often enough to ventilate these products.

For washing, you simply use a normal detergent, preferably an ecological, sustainable product, of course. It is important that it does not contain any enzymes (attention: even wool detergents sometimes contain enzymes, as this is not a problem for coarser wool). And you shouldn't use fabric softener or bleach. Merino shirts & Co don't like that at all. Wool also doesn't like a tumble dryer. It is best to dry the soft wool lying or hanging on a clothes horse.

What is the advantage of mixing merino wool with other fibers?

There are more and more shirts & Co in which merino wool is mixed with a synthetic fiber such as polyester or nylon or with a cellulose fiber such as lyocell or modal.

When mixed with polyester, the focus is on better moisture management, secondarily it becomes a bit more robust. First and foremost, nylon ensures a more abrasion-resistant and robust material that also dries faster than pure merino wool.

When mixed with Modal, the material becomes even softer, which is particularly interesting for people with sensitive skin. Lyocell (e.g. Tencel from Lenzing) also ensures a softer material, has cooling properties and is therefore very popular in summer.