We certainly love our technology, especially when it’s applied to performance textiles that allow us to do more while maintaining safe and comfortable body temperatures. Of course, one of the most advanced materials used in clothing today is not some synthetic created in a lab, it’s created on rugged hillsides in New Zealand and Australia. We’re referring to nature’s own Merino wool.
Modern Merino is not your dad’s wool, all scratchy and bulky. Quite the opposite. Merino is prized for softness, although it’s extremely durable, and can be woven into very light fabrics. Other features of wool are its inherent anti-microbial properties, excellent temperature regulation, and natural tendency to repel dirt. Amazingly, wool can also draw moisture away from your skin (it can hold more than 30% of its weight in water) while at the same time being water-resistant. Although it may be possible to combine synthetics to come up with clothing that has some of the same properties as wool, it’s unlikely that you can match it completely. Especially the one feature we’re seeing as a big selling point for more outdoors enthusiasts – wool is a natural product that comes from a fairly renewable source, and is fully biodegradable at the end of its long product life.
Believe it or not, we can thank Levi’s Dockers in part for our wool performance wear. Once used mainly for fine suits and coats, (think Mad Men, where every man is wearing a suit when he’s not in bed) wool farmers had to find new buyers for their product with the advent of casual office wear. A few forward-thinking companies saw the opportunity, and embraced wool, to the benefit of everyone. So for our week in wool, we’re going to be bringing you some of these companies, who produce outstanding wool products to cover you from head to toe. Tuesday is hat day, with some stylish and functional options from Tilley Endurables, as well as more playful knitwear from Knitwits. Wednesday, we’re highlighting cycling jerseys from Twin Six, a company that combines highly functional wool with classic artwork and designs. Thursday is all about pants, including long pants, short pants, and even underpants. In wool. Really. We’ll finish off the week with Darn Tough, a technical wool sock that’s extremely comfortable, yet so durable that they offer a lifetime guarantee.
With all the brands available out there, we’re barely scratching the surface. But this will give you a good starting point, should you decide to start including wool in your outdoor wear, or even if you’re just adding to what you already have.
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