For Christmas Mandy bought me a Merino wool base layer from Mountain Warehouse for those cold winter runs. I had been looking at a Merino wool jumper for a while now as I've heard great things about them, but I had been looking at more expensive options.
What is Merino wool?
The Merino is a breed of sheep, originally from Turkey and Spain. These days most of the supply of Merino wool comes from Australia.
Merino sheep are regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep.
What's so good about Merino wool other than being soft?
Copied from a website:
Merino wool is naturally antibacterial, breathable and wicks moisture away from the skin, making it a superb choice for an active lifestyle. The fabric is lightweight and will keep you comfortable in cool or warm conditions, making it ideal for skiing and hiking, traveling or everyday wear in winter.
- Naturally Antibacterial - Natural merino wool helps your garment stay fresh and odour free
- High Wicking - Actively wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable
- Breathable - Highly breathable fabric lets moisture out, making sure you stay dry on the inside
- Lightweight - Great for traveling, walking and more, with no added bulk
- Easy Care - Machine washable on a 30 degree wool cycle for easy care
Why isn't all active sports clothing made from Merino?
I've been searching the web to find out an answer for this and all I can really guess is, lack of supply. It's much easier to create a manmade fibre such as Polyester than have to rely on a sheep to produce the product. If the main supplier of Merino wool is Australia then you also have shipping costs on top of everything else. Polyester can be produced in larger amounts, locally and I'd imagine needs less care i.e. wool needs cleaned etc before production can start.
The other thing driving the price seems to depend on the quality of the wool. The finer the wool the more expensive it is.
My own findings...
Once you get past all the sales hype, that Merino is the best thing since sliced bread, I have been running in my merino layer since Christmas and I'm convinced by it. I love it actually.
Although it was one of the cheaper options, there is no itchiness when worn against my skin. I don't over heat wearing it and it's really comfortable. The version I have is just a base layer from Mountain Warehouse, it's not a running specific top but I tend to wear it under my technical T-shirts / running jacket.
It's not wind proof so you still feel the cold if you don't wear layers with it but I've been out in some pretty cold and windy nights doing high intensity sessions and felt fine in it.
I do tend to sweat during these sessions so I was interested to see how the natural antibacterial statement stood up. To my surprise, it really does work. My technical T-shirts can only be worn once before needing a quick wash but the Merino lasts much longer.
I've worn the base layer for my 16 mile Sunday run and if I touch the top layer it is damp but my skin is dry, this means no chaffing when out for a run which is brilliant.
It really is one of my favourite bits of kit in my kit bag just now and I'm so glad I have it. It's another layer to keep me warm when out in the winter winds without having something bulky on. In the past I've put a long sleeve technical top on under my normal technical training T-shirts and I've just felt hot and uncomfortable, this has changed all of that.
Once you go to Merino - there is no going back.
Some suppliers / manufacturers -