Understanding Merino Wool

Merino Sheep
Merino Sheep

If you have read any cycling blogs or forums during the recent cold weather, you’ll see lots of people extolling the benefits of merino wool.

They talk about merino socks, merino gloves, merino t-shirts, and even merino underwear, but because they’re talking about wool, you could be forgiven for conjuring up images in your head of thick, scratchy and uncomfortable garments.

However the merino products out there aren’t thick, scratchy or uncomfortable; they are thin, light, durable, comfortable, and often very desirable garments – and also contain an almost unbelievable number of amazing properties:

  • Merino is fantastic at helping to regulate your body temperature, if you wear it as a base layer against your skin. The wool provides warmth in the cold, and helps you stay cool when it’s warm outside – and also draws moisture away from the skin (something called ‘wicking’) to stop you feeling damp when you sweat.
  • Merino is a very soft kind of wool, and has very fine fibres. This results in very light clothing. The fibres also have a natural elasticity, and so can stretch with you.
  • Merino has inbuilt natural anti-bacterial properties that stop clothes smelling when you sweat. You can wear the same merino clothes for days in a row, and they won’t stink!
  • Merino is also stain-resistant, machine-washable, anti-wrinkle, and is a natural barrier for UV radiation.

What more do you want?

Of course, with all these amazing properties, merino clothes are not cheap.  A typical merino t-shirt may cost in the region of $50. However they are an excellent investment for cyclists; particularly those who like to ride in ‘normal clothes’. And there are an increasing number of great designers creating fashionable items that are highly functional and good looking both on and off the bike.

Some of the best uses of merino on your bike ride are:

  • Swapping a cotton t-shirt for a merino one, so that you arrive feeling less sweaty at your destination, and avoid sticking out the office with your body odour.
  • If you suffer from cold hands on a winter commute, then get a nice pair of merino glove liners (thin gloves that can fit under your regular ones) that will keep your hands toasty warm. Similarly merino socks will help keep your feed warmer.
  • Look out for hats and scarves made of merino, or get yourself a merino ‘buff’ to keep you head and neck warm.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

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