Washing and caring for wool outdoor clothing

Wool garments for the outdoors

From temperature regulation to dirt and odour repellency, there are many reasons to add wool clothing to your active wardrobe. As a base layer for running, hiking or skiing, there are few materials that will keep you as warm and comfortable.

Keeps you dry and warm

Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and remain dry to the touch. It will only feel wet when water gets between the yarns and saturates the fabric. Even when it is wet, wool traps heat better than synthetic materials that allow your body heat to escape, making it a great choice for damp or rainy conditions.

Since it releases or absorbs heat slowly, wool buffers you from temperature changes and helps regulate your core temperature. You won’t feel instantly chilled when you step into a cold environment or get hit with a blast of wind. Because of wool’s unique ability to manage moisture (vapour passes through like steam through a screen door), it helps maintain a stable temperature, aids your body in cooling and can help lower your heart rate when worn next to skin.

Requires less washing

Wool fibres don’t tend to absorb oils or perspiration and the odour-producing bacteria that come with them, so it’s naturally odour-resistant. Wool doesn’t cling to your skin either, so it won’t pick up dirt particles as easily as other fabrics, leading to less washing than synthetics or cotton.

It’s fire-safe and chemical resistant

Unlike synthetics, wool is self-extinguishing, and the least flammable of fibres, so it’s great to wear when you’re camping. A thin protective membrane, like a wax covering, is bonded to the outside of each wool fibre, making it resistant to chemicals like dry cleaning fluids.

What’s different about merino?

Wool can be sourced from a few types of animals (cashmere from goats, angora from rabbits). Merino wool comes from merino sheep, a breed that has developed a coat to withstand extreme temperature ranges. They need to stay insulated in winter and need their skin to breathe in summer.

Here’s where we get technical: merino is measured in microns (1mm = 1000 microns). The coarser the micron, the thicker and more rigid the fibre, giving you less flexibility and movement. MEC uses a fine micron with a lot of flex and movement, giving you less poke and less itch against your skin.

It’s great as a base layer or mid-layer due to its softness, warmth-to-weight ratio, breathability and wicking properties. It’s a strong fibre too, so it stretches to move with your body and bounces back without bagging out.