All wools are different and while their differences can be easily felt, the reasons for them can be hard to spot by the naked eye. That’s because the real structural varieties of wool fibres are measured in microns and are so small, they are measured through a microscope.
A micron is the diameter of one wool fibre and generally, the lower the micron count, the softer the wool. Lambswool typically has a micron count of no more than 25 and Merino ranges between 15 and 20. A synthetic fibre may be up to 30 microns.
Why are Merino fibres so beneficial?
As well as a low micron count, Merino fibres have a good crimp (coiled texture). This allows the resulting fabric to be soft and springy to the touch and works to trap air, giving it insulating properties. Because the fibre itself is so long and soft, it is very gentle and kind to skin. Merino wool can be fine, superfine and ultra-fine, depending on how low the micron count is. Ultra-fine wool is best for base garments, while the slightly thicker fine variety is great for mid-layers or outer layers. At FINDRA we’ve created three clothing weights to reflect the differences in fibre, find out more in our Merino weight guide.
Is Merino wool itchy?
One of the many great things about Merino wool is the fact that it isn’t itchy at all. Its fibres are so fine, they are soft and gentle against skin. Thick, coarse wools and synthetic fibres can be a little rough to the touch. While this thickness can have benefits, it can also cause itchiness. Merino is beautifully suited to being worn next to the skin and is very robust for its weight, that’s why team FINDRA chose Merino for our clothing.
Merino vs synthetic wools
Why choose a natural, Merino wool over a synthetic version? There are lots of compelling reasons for going natural, starting with the feel, shape and integrity of the garment. Merino wool has lots of amazing characteristics, including softness, durability, a high wicking ability and a natural odour resistance. Find out more about the benefits of Merino wool.
Merino and synthetic comparisons
Synthetic fibres are not all the same. Many are made from a polyester blend, sometimes with elastane, nylon, spandex or polypropylene. They will all behave slightly differently, but have a lot of things in common. Merino wool is more breathable and allows sweat to evaporate. Synthetic wools are hydrophobic, so they don’t absorb damp. They dry quickly, but don’t have Merino’s natural odour-resistance. Merino is also naturally flame-resistant, unlike petroleum based synthetics.
Merino wool is better for the environment
Merino also has a huge advantage over synthetic wools when it comes to the environment. For a start, the wool is sheared from Merino sheep, making it a renewable resource. The protective outer layers on Merino fibres mean fabrics need to be washed less frequently and when they do need washed, they won’t be shedding microplastics into the water. Check out all the ways Merino wool is a more sustainable choice.