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Beyond the Bale : June 2015
24 OFF FARM A BREATH OF FRESH AIR One of the attributes of Merino wool that is breathing new life into the outdoor apparel market is its ability to absorb and transfer large quantities of moisture vapour away from the body, meaning wearers of wool garments are less prone to clamminess. Merino wool’s breathability and odour resistance have opened the way for a natural alternative to synthetic-based outdoor performance gear. Figure 1 Moisture uptake: Wool absorbs more moisture vapour than other fibres. Moisture uptake Relative Humidity (%) WaterVapourUptake(%) 0 50 100 Wool Cotton Polyamide/Polyester Polyacrylic 35 25 15 5 -5 Figure 2 Merino breathability: A Merino wool garment close to the skin actively transfers moisture vapour molecules away from the body so you feel less clammy. With a majority of the world’s leading outdoor brands now incorporating Merino wool base-layers into their collections, one of the most talked about natural attributes and benefits of Merino wool clothing in this market is its breathability. What does breathability mean? When someone says a garment ‘breathes’ they are referring to its ability to dissipate moisture vapour so that the wearer doesn’t feel clammy or uncomfortable. During exercise or in hot climates the evaporation of moisture from the skin’s surface produces a very efficient cooling effect. However, clothing can obstruct this process, resulting in the microclimate above the skin becoming saturated with vapour, which will make the individual clammy unless their clothing can transport this moisture away from the skin. WOOL’S EXCELLENT MOISTURE MANAGEMENT Compared to clothing made from other fibres, Merino wool garments are very efficient at transferring moisture vapour away from the body. Wool fibre can absorb up to 35 per cent of its dry weight in moisture vapour, and still feel dry to touch, which is far more than synthetic fibres (that have usually been manufactured using petrochemicals) and even other natural fibres such as cotton – see figure 1. The chemical bonding within a Merino fibre has the effect of allowing the fibres to pull moisture vapour into them. This causes the micro-climate above the skin to become less saturated with vapour, thereby making the wearer less clammy and less likely for the vapour to form sweat droplets on the skin’s surface. The Merino wool fabric will release the moisture into the atmosphere which has lower humidity – see figure 2. Compared to clothing made from other fibres, Merino wool’s process of vapour transfer results in cooler muscles that are able to work at higher intensity levels. ODOUR MANAGEMENT Merino wool’s breathability also helps in minimising body odour. Without the fibre’s effective dispersal system, the vapour is more likely to condense to form sweat droplets on the skin’s surface which can cause unpleasant body odour when the sweat degrades. Furthermore, the complex chemical structure of Merino wool actually locks away any unpleasant odour molecules from degraded sweat, to be released when the garment is washed. So Merino wool clothes will remain fresher for longer than cotton or synthetic garments. MORE INFORMATION www.merino.com/sport Moisture vapour Microclimate MerinoPerformTM base layer Heat transfer occurs via mass transfer of vapour Moisture vapour contained in the side chain reservoirs within wool fibres (before being released into the atmosphere), thus keeping fabric dry Efficient dispersal into atmosphere Chemical attraction quickly draws vapour molecules through fabric thus reducing possibility of condensation Skin Merino Breathability Merino wool base layer Moisture vapour is contained in