The Ultimate Guide to Merino Wool


by Unbound February 21, 2017

 

Merino wool is a game changer. It’s benefits are wide ranging and can be applied in a whole number of ways. From traveling the world to everyday wear, Merino wool will revolutionize the way you dress and experience the world.

We want to help you understand everything there is to know about this incredible fiber – So, let’s get started:

 

Let’s take a trip back to the dawn of civilization:

Humans have been herding sheep and harvesting their wool for over 3000 years.

Way back in the day, wool fibers were thick and coarse – so wool was great at keeping humans warm, but it was itchy, bulky and not exactly “stylish” – at least not by today's standards.

When people think of wool, they usually think of grandma-knitted scarves and sweaters. By comparison, Merino wool is soft, smooth to the touch and luxuriously light.

What differentiates Merino wool fibre from other types of wool is that it’s sourced from a very different breed of sheep than traditional sheep. Surprise, surprise – Merino wool comes from Merino Sheep.

 

The Merino Behind Unbound Merino

Behind every Unbound Merino wool fiber, there’s a Merino sheep.

Merino sheep (also referred to simply as Merino) is one of the world’s oldest and most bulky hearty breeds of sheep. It’s like the heavy-weight champion of sheep – Big, resilient, and able to stand up to just about anything nature throws its way.

The early history of Merino starts in Spain, but skip ahead a few centuries and today most Merino are raised in Australia and New Zealand. The ever changing and extreme climate in this part of the world is the perfect place for Merino to call home. A hundred years of selective breeding and herding by Aussies helped refine the modern-day properties of Merino wool.

Today, all that adds up to Merino producing nature’s highest performing natural fiber.

 

 

Look at all that wool. You’d think in the sweltering summer months of the Outback this Merino sheep would be shvitzing like mule in a Turkish bath.

Don’t let that thick coat fool you, the fleece of Merino is naturally breathable in the hot summer months keeping the sheep very comfortable.

However, during the colder months of the year, this wool provides optimal insulation – all while staying super lightweight and soft.

The secret of Merino wool clothing is not messing with what Mother Nature already figured out. We literally take the natural properties that Merino sheep enjoy and spin it into a stylish line of essentials including T-shirts, socks and underwear.

 

The Benefits of Merino Wool

 

1. Merino is Lightweight & Super Soft

When most people hear “wool”, they immediately think “itchy sweater”. That’s because traditional wool is made with a much thicker and coarser fiber. That itch or prick you feel when wearing grandma’s sweater is the individual fiber poking your skin. An ever-present reminder that Grandma loves you.

The fibers of Merino wool on-the-other-hand are finer than any other wool fiber out there. This allows them to be much more flexible, lighter and feel soft against your body. In turn, a Merino wool garment flows with your body’s natural movements in a way that just feels right.

 

2. Merino is breathable

Ever take off a shirt made from synthetic blends at the end of a long day and feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your existence? That cool rush of cold air against your skin…The feeling of finally being able to breathe again…

That’s because when it comes to blends and synthetics, the only place heat and vapor created by your body have to escape is through microscopic holes between the fiber. That trapped vapor condenses on the fabric and creates a general feeling of clamminess. With Merino wool, your body heat is able to escape not only through the holes between fibers but through the actual fibers themselves.

In other words, the entirety of a Merino Wool T-shirt ventilates hot vapor out, and cool surrounding air in. Out with body heat – in with cool refreshment.

 

3. Merino Manages Moisture

Being breathable is all well and good, but what happens when you’re 4-hours into a 7-hour hike, deep in the Peruvian jungle? At that point, your body will be creating more sweat and heat than the air can effectively evaporate. In other words, you’ll be sweating balls.

Well, the good news is Merino fiber is able to absorb up to a third of it’s weight in moisture while still feeling comfortable and dry.

Moreover, the natural fibers of merino wool will move the moisture being absorbed away from your sweaty ass body where it can continue to evaporate in a process known as “wicking”.

On hot sticky days - wicking is your friend.

 

4. Merino is Antibacterial

The wooly coat of Merino has a waxy coating on every single fiber called Lanolin. This oily, wax coating helps Merino sheep repel water during rainy months and guards against infections.

In turn, the yarn used to make Merino wool clothing maintains some of this residual Lanolin which continues to act as a safeguard against mildew, mold and odor causing bacteria.

See below for a more in depth look at Lanolin in action.

 

5. Merino is Odor Resistant

Because of Merino wool’s natural ability to stay breathable, effectively manage moisture, and  prevent odor-causing bacteria, the end result is a perfect trifecta of clothing that smells fresh no matter you put it through.


The extraordinary performance of our clothing is actually quite simple – We let Mother Nature do it’s thing.

    • Since Merino wool fiber is breathable, you’re less likely to over-heat and over perspire.
    • Since it’s great at not absorbing sweat, when you do perspire, there is far less sweat collecting and producing odor.
    • Last, Lanolin is your last line of defence against odor causing bacteria.

The end result is clothing that stays clean and scent free for days, weeks and even months of wear when properly cared for.

 

6. Merino wool is wrinkle resistant

Grab a microscope and take a gander at a single Merino wool fiber.

You’ll notice that it resembles a tight coiled spring…the pros call it a “fiber crimp”.

Give this crimp a yank and it will recoil back into shape every single time. It’s this elasticity and recoil of Merino wool fiber that gives its luxurious feeling stretch. Not to mention, when you stuff it into a backpack or carry-on, it comes out looking ready to wear.

 

7. Merino wool is organic & renewable

Lose your shirt while camping?  Don’t sweat it, Merino Wool garments will biodegrade back into soil within a few years.

Between Australia and New Zealand there are about 70 million Merino sheep producing this miraculous fiber year round, raised on a simple diet of grass pasture. Each year, the Merino produce a brand-new fleece making this natural harvest of wool completely renewable and sustainable. All while creating a thriving, multi-generational industry in both nations.

 

 

How to care for Merino wool

Merino wool is easy to care for. Merino’s waxy Lanolin coating helps resist stains, and should you ever feel like your clothing is ready for a wash, Merino wool is perfectly suitable for a machine wash. Merino wool dries quickly – that means you can air dry it and you’ll be good to go.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT TUMBLE DRY MERINO WOOL.

 

Machine Washing

  •   Throw your Merino wool clothing in the wash with the rest of your laundry.
  •   You can use your usual detergent on the normal wash cycle.

Hand Washing

  •   Make sure you sink is clean.
  •   Fill it with warm water.
  •   Add a few drops of mild detergent.
  •   If you don’t have detergent on hand, regular liquid soap will do the trick.
  •   Throw your Merino wool clothing into the soapy water and let it soak for ten to twenty minutes depending on how soiled it is.
  •   Gently agitate the water from time to time.
  •   Drain the sink and rinse your clothing with fresh warm water.
  •   Do not wring-out your Merino wool

Drying

  •   The best way to dry your Merino wool clothing is by laying it flat on a towel and flipping it from time to time. This takes a little longer, but it’s the best way to take care of your clothing.
  •   Alternatively you can hang it to dry over a chair or bannister.

WE REPEAT: DO NOT TUMBLE DRY MERINO WOOL.

Preventing Pilling

  •      This natural process occurs when the shorter fibers in Merino wool work their way to the surface.
  •      To prevent this from happening, wash your clothing after the first 4 wears.
  •      Should pilling occur, throw your clothes in the wash with a pair of jeans. (just make sure to close the zippers)
  •      Over time, the shorter fibers which cause pilling will pull away on their own.

Packing using Unbound Merino:

Think about your where your travels will take you and pack accordingly.  For short hauls or weekend escapes, often one T-shirt, a pair of underwear and socks will get you through with nothing more than the clothes on your back.

For longer trips, specifically to hotter climates, pack at least 2 shirts so you can alternate between wears. This will keep both shirts fresher longer because you’ll be able to air out your clothes every single day.

For hotter climates, pack a grey Crew or V Neck for the day, to keep you cool and comfortable in the sun.  The Black V-neck or Crew can be dressed up and perfect once the sun sets and you find yourself at a nice restaurant or club.

The best way to pack your merino wool shirts and underwear is by doing the military roll. Here’s a quick how-to guide.

Travel Tips with Unbound Merino:

  •      If you plan on hand washing your Merino wool, bring a long a universal sink stopper.
  •      Got a room with central air or an air conditioner? This is a perfect spot to quickly air-out or air-dry your T-shirts, socks or underwear.
  •      Anything else? I’m at a loss here.

Wearing Merino Wool Every Single Day

The benefits of Unbound go beyond travel. Having less (but better) stuff will not only simplify your life abroad, it will also add simplicity to your life at home.

Here are just some of the things that will happen when you Live Unbound:

You’ll have less laundry to do.

Your laundry machine will be lonelier than ever. With a wardrobe full of clothing that rarely needs to be washed, you’ll save time, money and energy.

It’s one less thing to think about.

There’s an endless amount of decisions to be made from the second you wake up.  Spend less time deciding what to wear in the morning, so you can keep focused on the things that really matter.

You’ll always look great.

In a perfect world, you would be wearing your favourite clothing every day. Unbound lets you live in that world. Clothing that doesn’t go through the wash cycle with every wear keeps it’s form and fit. It’s like the first time you put it on, every time.

You’ll own clothing with real value.

A lot of clothing purchased today is more or less disposable. It’s designed to deteriorate after a few wears. While it may seem to be a cheaper option with the initial purchase - it ends up costing more over time. Not to mention the human and environmental cost. Having a few items that last long create more value in the long run and is a better way to live.

The Unbound Daily Ritual

  •   The best way to make sure your clothing stays fresh between washes is by airing it out every single day.
  •   Simply hang it in a well-ventilated space over a chair, or bannister.
  •   In the morning it will be ready for your daily wear.
  •   Repeat daily between washing.  

WEAR AIR-OUT REPEAT

Nerding out on Merino Wool

What is a Micron?

The single fiber of a strand of wool is measured in microns. This is the raw material that is spun into yarn. Today, you’ll find Merino wool fabric between 17.5 – 24 microns. The measurement is the circumference of the fiber. The lower the micron, the smaller the circumference of the fiber and to give you an idea of thickness, the average human hair is about 45 microns.

Another measurement used to describe the coarseness of wool is grams per meter squared (g/m2). When using this measurement, the lower the figure, the softer and lighter the wool.

What is Lanolin really?

This is a natural wax-like coating that is created by Merino and is found on every single strand of wool comprising its fleece. Lanolin helps the Merino’s coat repel water, is a natural barrier against harsh climates and also protects the sheep’s skin from infections.

Traces of Lanolin remain on the wool fiber from shearing to spinning, right through the entire process. As part of your garment, Lanonlin continues to give the same benefits to you as it did for the Merino sheep from which it came.

Lanolin helps every Unbound Merino garment:

  •      Repel Water
  •      Resist Stains
  •      Feel luxuriously soft to the touch
  •      Stay elastic
  •      Resist mold, bacteria and mildew.




            
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