Your basic merino wool gear is evolving. Whether mixed with other fabrics in baselayers, or used as insulation in a variety of outerwear, next generation merino is here. Below are some of the more interesting uses of merino wool that we saw at both Outdoor Retailer and ISPO this winter.
Duckworth: The Helle Rambouillet merino wool comes from non-mulesed sheep all raised on Montana mountain pastures and 100% processed in the USA–this is the ultimate in source verified wool. Dry hot summers and freezing cold winters create a soft, durable fiber with exceptional natural loft and breathability. Duckworth is the first merino wool apparel manufacturer to not use chemicals to shrink resist their wool. At Outdoor Retailer, I met John Helle who owns Helle Ranch in Montana–he is extremely proud of his team, his sheep, and the resulting Duckworth products. For good reason.
Patagonia Merino-Air Baselayer: This new Patagonia Merino-Air is a fusion of technologies and sustainably sourced materials (merino wool and Capilene fibers). The result is a baselayer that offers outstanding warmth for its wight, is more breathable and better fitting than conventional wool pieces but maintains the natural odor-fighting properties of wool.
Polartec Power Wool: Highly breathable Polartec Power Wool fabrics optimally place naturally wicking, odor resistant, temperature-regulating high quality merino wool next to skin with hydrophobic synthetic fibers on the outside for shape retention, durability, and improved dry-times. The resulting products more reliably manage the often-divergent demands of many environments – hot or cold, wet or dry – for superior comfort and durability.
super.natural: Relatively new to the US, the beautifully designed pieces made from combinations of engineered wicking fibers and merino wool are soft, natural, and comfortable on the skin yet engineered to keep your body dry in workout conditions.
Icebreaker MerinoLOFT: Water repellent and machine washable outerwear pieces made from a recycled polyester outer layer, 100% merino next to skin, and stuffed with 88% wool insulation, including recycled merino.
Wigwam Fusion Socks: The new snow sports Fusion sock line combines unique knitting processes with high-performance textiles to create an all in one combined sock and liner. The inner hydrophobic layer moves moisture away from your foot to keep your feet dry and prevent blistering in cold conditions, while the outer hydrophilic wool layer insulates, absorbs, and provides all the other benefits of merino wool.