What Is Merino Wool? And What Is It Good For?

Learn how nature’s original technical fiber is perfect for your next outdoor adventure.

If you’re looking for the best base layers and activewear, you’ve surely come across merino options—like our Alpine Onset merino-blend tops, bottoms and accessories. But what is merino, exactly?

Here are the basics of this amazing fiber, and why it makes incredible base layers.

What is merino, exactly?

Merino is a type of wool. More specifically, it’s the wool that comes from the merino breed of sheep. The breed originated in Spain, but is now raised in many places around the world. Australia and New Zealand are famous for their merino wool.

How is merino different from other wool?

The wool sheared from merino sheep is especially lightweight, breathable and insulating. This allows the sheep to survive in rugged mountain terrain with sub-freezing winter temperatures as well as fairly warm summer conditions.

Wool is typically divided into categories by how thick the individual fibers are, merino being the finest. The thin fibers make it super soft, great for wearing next to your skin. (Merino fiber can be less than half the width of human hair!) The extra soft fibers make merino perfect for clothing that touches your face, too, like the Men's Alpine Onset Ubertube Top and Women's Alpine Onset Ubertube Top.


Why is merino wool great for base layers and activewear?

The same qualities that make merino wool great for the sheep make it great for clothing, especially activewear and base layers like the Women's Alpine Onset Merino Crew and Men's Alpine Onset Merino Crew. It may seem like magic, but merino wool base layers actually help naturally regulates your body temperature, breathing when you need it to breathe and insulating when you need it to insulate.

Scales on the wool fibers also make the wool shed water, which means it’s great at managing moisture and it’s quick to dry. That's great whether your layers are damp from sweat, rain or snow. It's what makes the Women's Alpine Onset Merino Bottoms and Men's Alpine Onset Merino Bottoms perfect for layering under ski pants and bibs.

On top of that, merino fabric is naturally antibacterial and odor resistant. In fact, it’s not recommended to wash your merino wool clothing as often as purely synthetic items. You can wear a merino top or bottoms several times before washing.



Is merino wool eco-friendly?

Yes! Merino is a renewable resource.

Does merino wool require extra care?

Merino is super easy to care for. It requires less laundering in the first place. And when it finally does come time for a wash, just toss it in a gentle cycle with cool water and gentle soap. Just don’t put it in the dryer. Either hang it or lay it flat on a towel and flip it over when it’s halfway dry.