What is a Merino Wool Base Layer?
A base layer is a versatile piece of clothing that comes in several different forms, unique fabrics, patterns and styles. It is worn as the closest layer to the skin, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘second skin’.
A merino wool base layer is a type of base layer that is manufactured in a very exquisite way. Companies use wool that comes from the merino sheep, originally found in Spain.
Merino sheep produce an incredibly fine fiber of wool which is now being extensively used in apparel worldwide. Its close-fitting is typically meant to keep you warm as the winter approaches and the temperatures start to drop.
What is Merino Wool?
Merino wool comes from a specific breed of sheep, called Merino Sheep. Originally from Spain, they are now ethically farmed in Australia, the USA, New Zealand, and South America.
The wool of as Merino Sheep is the finest of all the wools found around the world. It has a diameter of 30 microns lower than normal wool.
Compared to traditional wool, merino wool is naturally long and has a stronger fiber. A wool that has shorter fiber is brittle and can break apart more easily. It also has a unique crimp which allows it to be resilient and increasingly loft.
From extreme heat to freezing cold, merino sheep can adapt to very harsh climates. Shelter and shade is provided on sheep farms, along with clean water and appropriate nutrition. There is strict regulation of illnesses and diseases that may spread among a flock. This requires adequate treatment throughout the year. Their natural behaviors are not jeopardized as they are allowed to roam freely on thousands of acres of land with little to no human interaction. In the extraction of wool, strict policies are administered. Mulesing practices are banned to minimize the risk of injury to the sheep.
Types of Merino Wool Base Layers
When it comes to layering your cold-weather clothing, merino wool base layers take the lead. The different types of merino wool base layers include tops, bottoms and hoodies.
Depending on what you plan on doing for the day, you want to choose the proper outfit for each activity accordingly. The most appropriate way to protect yourself from harsh weather is to wear a total of three layers, with merino wool as your base layer.
Merino-Wool Tops: If your dress, jacket or bodysuit doesn’t come with arm warmers, wearing a fitted merino wool base layer-top underneath is a simple solution to your problem. These can be in the form of an Undershirt, Vest or Hoodie.
Merino-Wool Bottoms: These are perfect for having an extra layer of warmth especially when you’re cycling, snow-sporting or trekking up a mountain. They can be exceptional additions to your outdoor garb and worn on their own. You can even wear them under casual shorts or as a base layer under ski shorts and waterproofs.
Merino-Wool Socks: Our feet face the brunt of the elements. Putting on a warm pair of Merino Wool socks will add a layer of protection in the harshest of weather-conditions. They will keep them warm and dryer than standard wool socks.
Different Merino Wool Base Layer Weights
Base layers come in different weights and thickness levels. So you can choose the right one depending on the level of warmth you need.
Lightweight Base Layer: You can wear a lightweight base as an undercoating, or you can wear it as a standalone piece in mildly cold weather. They are the thinnest type and provide the most amount of flexibility from all weights.
Midweight Base Layer: These act as first skins but can also function as second layers over a lighter garment. They allow protection against moderately cold temperatures.
Heavyweight Base Layer: Finally, heavyweight base layers are the most dense the layers. Their thick material provides pure insulation while accompanying the rest of the outfit. They are great for extremely cold climates and for long period of time. They will prevent the cold from penetrating our clothes and reaching the body.
Benefits of merino wool for base layers:
Traditional sheep’s wool is being replaced by merino wool for the benefits of its smooth fibrils. Their smoothness allows exceptional moisture wicking for the body in different temperatures.
Base layers made from 100% Pure Merino Wool are able to hold approximately 30 percent of its own weight in water absorption. Afterwards, the wearer will be able to feel the moisture on their skin and the body will begin to cool down.
This feature contributes to the breathability of the fabric without weighing it down.
When compared to cotton, Merino Wool comes ahead for several reasons. Since cotton takes longer to dry, it will lead to disastrous outcomes in extreme situations.
More importantly, merino wool base layers are excellent for temperature regulation. You can actually wear a base layer made of merino wool throughout the year, regardless of the season.
The fibers present in the wool have air pockets that, by trapping air, keep you insulated.
However during hot weather, a lightweight merino wool base layer will absorb sweat from your body to cool it down.
So whether you’re on a ski trip or on a tropical beach in the Caribbean, a merino wool base layer should be your go-to piece of garment!
Furthermore, merino wool has natural odor-resistant properties that keep the fabric stink free. After a long day of hike, wearing a merino wool garment would save you from developing a serious stench.
Lanolin, also known as wool yolk, kills the odor creating bacteria present in the sweat. The fibers in the wool will absorb odors from your body, making it a great material for sportswear.
This protects the base layer from retaining odors and requires less washing. Moreover, merino wool is an excellent sun protectant. Normal wool absorbs more radiation from our sun instead of reflecting it away.
How is Merino Wool Made?
Wool has been farmed for thousands of years and there are absolutely no crop losses, making it environmental friendly. Merino wool fibers are essentially made of a substance called, keratin.
The molecules of keratin have a strong, interlocked structure that allow the material to bend and stretch thousands of times, without wear and tear. In contrast to this, cotton and silk can succumb to damage after being stretched for about five thousand times.
Merino wool base layers can be washed multiple times without losing their original tight shape. Unlike other fabrics that take decades to decompose, merino wool is a biodegradable material that easily breaks down after a year of exposure. It is not based on oil which makes it sustainable.
The ultimate feature that makes merino wool stand out is its softness. It is an ultra-soft fabric that is now highly sought after because of its versatility and extraordinary performance. It is one of the smoothest materials available in the market today.
Traditional wool is known for its itchy and irritating feel but with merino wool, the case happens to be different. The microfibers of merino wool base layers can bend at a very light touch which produces a fabric that is easy to wear so close to your skin.