If wool still conjures images of grandma’s itchy sweaters, you're missing the boat. These five facts will help you sell more wool.
Wool socks have been a necessity for anyone who’s serious about their outdoor activities for as long as outdoor enthusiasts can remember, regardless of the temperature. Time hasn’t changed this old adage, but today’s American wool is good for so much more than just covering ankles; even in summer.
Here are five key benefits that highlight the year-round versatility of wool for consumers.
1. Wool is high performance
When all the features and benefits are added together it isn’t difficult to see that a wool garment – a sock, a jacket or a base-layer – represents remarkable value both economically and environmentally. No other fiber can deliver such a wide range of performance benefits in such a wide range of products, and yet be completely natural and biodegradable – important traits for those who truly enjoy the great outdoors.
2. Wool is year-round comfort
In the cold, wool equals warmth. This is because the crimp (waviness) of the wool fiber helps trap tiny pockets of still-air in the fabric structure and these pockets slow down the rate of heat loss from the body. High levels of activity in cold climates can create feelings of discomfort through a build-up of moisture in the layers of clothing, which leads to clamminess. By continuously wicking moisture vapor from the body, through the fiber to the environment, wool garments are drier and warmer under a wider range of conditions.
A thin layer of American merino wool is also ideal to beat the heat. American merino can be made into smooth knitted or woven fabrics, which are cool to the touch (in hot climates wool fibers absorb heat from the skin, resulting in a cool sensation) and have been found to transfer more heat from the body than equivalent synthetic fabrics. As well as conducting heat, wool also wicks away moisture vapor (which contains additional latent heat). This is another example of the remarkable natural breathability of wool fibers that allow wool garments to deliver performance in all scenarios.
Fine American wool does not prickle and itch because it has few coarse fibers (greater than 30 microns) that are known to be the cause of the common complaint that wool is too itchy to wear next to the skin.
3. Wool is funk resistant
Today’s hectic lifestyles suggest a traditional fiber such as wool has no place in the modern world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The outer surface of the fiber is coated with a naturally water-repellent layer that dispels liquid water and, therefore, the majority of stains. This water-repellent surface also makes it easy for stains to be removed with soaking or a light sponging. Less need for washing equals less impact on the environment.
Wool garments are known for their durability in wear, the fiber can be bent 20,000 times without breaking, which means less hunting for new garments as they wear out and offers a better value in the long. The natural elasticity of the fiber means that garments have natural stretch and natural wrinkle resistance. Creases just fall out on the hanger or during wear.
Outdoor wear can reek from a sweaty funk in a matter of minutes, but wool’s chemical structure enables it to manage body odor without the need for anti-microbial finishes. There’s no need to kill bacteria that create body odor because wool absorbs the odors and neutralizes them naturally. Machine washable wools are also now readily available.
4. Wool is fearless
Sheep spend most of their time outdoors, so it’s no surprise that their fleeces have natural resistance to UV radiation; a major cause of skin cancer. While most fibers will block UV rays, wool has proven to be among the best while blocking twice as much UV radiation as cotton and polyester in comparative fabrics.
Wool fibers do not burn easily; they do not melt and drip molten plastic upon exposure to flames. In fact, unlike many other common fibers, the wool fiber will not support a flame in a normal atmosphere. Even when it does burn, wool merely forms a char that insulates the rest of the fiber, and the body, from the heat of burning. A spark from a campfire is less likely to create a hole in a wool garment.
5. Wool is sustainable
Wool grows on sheep and sheep require only sunshine and rain (to grow the vegetation they eat) to thrive. When a wool garment finally wears out, it can be safely disposed of because it naturally decomposes in soil. In fact, wool releases nutrients as it biodegrades. Wool also grows well on land that is not suitable for growing crops – offering little conflict to the food industry.
Wool has more than a dozen naturally inherent performance features that make it ideal to wear in all seasons and for all scenarios.
For more information on wool, visit American Wool Council.