As a traveler it will come as no surprise to you to learn that one of my favorite pieces of clothing that I own, and which I love to use when I go backpacking, is Merino wool. Merino wool t-shirts and clothing has long been a favorite of the traveler because of the fact that it ticks all of the boxes of what kind of clothing a traveler would be looking for. Whenever I wear my Merino pieces, I am often asked by followers of social media such as Instagram, what it is that I am wearing and where they can get it. Many make the mistake of thinking that Merino wool is the same as actual wool, but in truth the two couldn’t be much different. In light of this, I wanted to write this piece to highlight the difference between the two wool types.
Something which has always bothered me about using real wool was that it would always make me incredibly itchy, not a great quality in a piece of clothing. In fact I could never wear my old woolen jumpers without a t-shirt or long sleeved shirt underneath, because of the amount that it would make my arms itch. Merino wool on the other hand is not even close to being itchy, it is soft and very kind on the skin.
If you were to wear a wool jumper for a week, without changing it, you can absolutely guarantee that your jumper is not going to be smelling very nice at all. The reason for this is that wool makes the skin sweat, and then it absorbs the sweat which comes out of your pores, resulting in some smelly clothes. Merino wool however, actually manages your body’s temperature so that you are not only sweating less, but because of the way the wool is constructed, it doesn’t absorb this either. In fact you can comfortably wear Merino wool for a couple of weeks, and it won’t smell at all.
The sweat absorption comment leads me on to a further point about the way in which each of these wool types handle water. Real wool actually absorbs water and it can take an awfully long time for it to dry after it has had a soaking in the rain or the machine. Merino wool however, is the polar opposite to this, drying very quickly and in fact sometimes not even feeling wet, even right after a rain storm.
One of the biggest reasons why I use this type of clothing is because it can pack up really small, and then it never has wrinkles when I get the items out of my bag. Whilst real wool doesn’t wrinkle too badly either, it is thick and stodgy, and it can be a nightmare to carry around with you.
There is of course much more to the differences between these wool types, but this is just to give you an idea of how different they really are.