Why Merino is essential for your next hiking trip?

Given the enormous amount of time, we have spent in our homes to help curb the spread of the coronavirus over the past year, it most certainly leaves us craving wide-open spaces and the fresh outdoors. For many South Africans, we are fortunate enough to have an abundance of mountains and trails to make the most of time spent outside. Hiking in the outdoors has been shown to boost both physical and mental health. But having the right gear for a day out is key to enjoying the very most the great outdoors have to offer. Here are a few reasons why your next hike should include Merino gear:

 

Temperature Regulation

In order to enjoy the outdoors most, our body must remain comfortable in all conditions. When it comes to temperature regulation, it is highly dependent on moisture between the skin and the clothing. The thermal conductivity of water is 25 times higher than the thermal conductivity of air which means that when you are wet, you lose body heat much quicker than when you are dry. Your body heat is actually transferred to wet and cold clothing. Merino wool clothing keeps thermal conductivity more or less the same as the thermal conductivity of air is, thus keeping you warm when wet and in cold conditions. Thus, merino wool gear helps you to stay comfortable in a range of hiking conditions.

 

Odour Resistance

Unfortunately, not all great hikes can be completed in one day. Many of the most bucket-list-worthy routes, such as the Camino de Santiago, are many days in length and take months if not years of planning. Packing smartly and minimally is an absolute must as you do not have many options to do laundry but at the same time, you do not want to be carrying too much luggage on your back. This makes merino clothing a must-have for the wool’s ability to remain bacteria-free and suppress body odours. Merino clothing is famous for being stink-free even after being worn in very sweaty conditions for days or even at a time.

 

Moisture Wicking

For those unfamiliar, moisture-wicking fabrics pull moisture away from your skin by absorbing it into the fibers. The moisture then moves through the fabric and evaporates through the exterior. Merino is touted as having high levels of moisture-wicking because of its ability to retain a lot of liquid relatives to its weight (much better than synthetics). Again, this is a natural property of the wool and another significant benefit to overall comfort.

If you are interested in trying out merino wool for hiking, then have a look at some of our suggested merino wool hiking items here.

Now, once you’ve stocked up on some amazing gear for your hike here are a few of our favourite hikes around South Africa to put your Core Merino to the test:

 

Go Baviaans Leopard Trail

The Leopard Trail is a 4-day and 3-night hike set in the magnificent Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site Wilderness Reserve.  This is a slack packing hike – each day the team at The Leopard Trail transports your bags and food from one overnight hut to the next, leaving you to walk with only a day pack. This is true wilderness hiking featuring a single-track path taking you through the inaccessible mountains of SA’s third-largest wilderness area.

 

With the Baviaanskloof hosting 7 of SA’s 8 biomes, the Leopard Trail offers an unparalleled diversity of landscapes. It is a moderately difficult hike with the longest day being 22 km. The route is designed for people of good hiking fitness. Click here to learn more or book your next adventure.

 

Rim of Africa

This demand is best suited for fit and experienced hikers, but it is certainly one for the bucket list. In its full, it is a traverse of the Cape Fold Mountains and is divided into 9 traverses, each varying between 7 and 10 days in duration and therefore can be done all at once or in segments. You will experience endless ridgelines, rock formations, crystal clear spring water, swimming in mountain pools, sleeping under the stars. The Rim of Africa happens once a year in springtime (Sept-Nov). Places on this experience are limited. To learn more click here.

 

Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail

Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail lies in the incredible Magoebaskloof forest near the small town of Hanaertsburg in Limpopo. The trails are laid out on the forestry estate, but most of the walking is through magnificent sub-tropical, indigenous forest, over craggy ravines, and alongside cascading waterfalls, pristine mountain streams, rivers, and dams. There are a number of huts available and thus one can hike anywhere from 1-5 days with a variety of routes. Although the trail can only be hiked in one direction, it can be made to be circular, so it is convenient to organise the same start & endpoint. Click here to learn more.

 

Get to know why wool is the all-natural performance fabric

For us at Core Merino, it is so obvious why we enjoy wearing wool in sports and why we create our outdoor and sports garments out of wool. However, whenever we get to meet our fellow outdoor sports enthusiasts, we very often get this question: Why should I wear wool when I do sports?

This is when it dawned on us, that it might not be so obvious to everyone.

So get ready for our answer to why you should run, bike, hike, climb or practice yoga in wool.

We perform and so do our clothes

The first element to understand when it comes to the clothes we wear when we are active outside is that garments influence how we perform. Our clothes have a direct impact on our body in regards to body temperature (are we too hot, too cold, or just right), moisture on our skin (does our skin feel dry or wet) as well as movement (can we move freely or are restricted). If any of these factors are not right, we will run slower, have to reduce the distance we can achieve, and may not reach the top of that mountain. In other words, if we want to perform well during our outdoor sports activity, then our garments need to perform as well.

Staying comfortable

When we are active two things happen in our body. 1 our body heats up and 2 we start to sweat as this is the way our body tries to cool us down. Both heat and sweat make us feel uncomfortable which influences our performance. Wool clothing worn next to skin has the ability to help us maintain a healthy body temperature and skin moisture level, in other words, wool lets us gain back that comfort we need to perform well. So let’s break things down, how wool actually regulates our body temperature and manages our skin moisture level.

Moisture and temperature management

There are two characteristics of wool fibre that play a role when it comes to regulating our body temperature and managing our sweaty skin. These are the insulation properties and breathability of wool.

Wool fibre and especially merino wool fibre has a natural crimp. This crimp offers many tiny pockets of air within each wool fibre. These pockets of air make wool a great insulator for cold weather, keeping you comfortably warm. The insulation capacity of wool is not doing the trick alone (as one could argue that with good insulation we would get eventually too hot). The secret weapon is wool’s ability to breathe. Wool can absorb large quantities of moisture vapour and then move it away to evaporate into the air. This keeps our skin dry and ensures excess heat is released away from our body. This breathing effect is also what helps us stay cooler in hot and dry climates. Wool conducts the heat as well as the moisture vapour away from our skin, which acts similar to a little air conditioning, keeping us cool and dry.

The insulation and breathability properties of wool have an additional benefit. When we stop exercising chances are high that we soon start to feel a post-exercise chill, especially when exercising in cold conditions during winter. Wool, however, releases the absorbed heat and moisture only slowly which ensures that we maintain higher skin temperature and less rapid cooling which avoids the post-exercise chill.

Wool feels drier for longer

When we talk about all the heat and moisture which wool can absorb away from the skin and then slowly release into the air, it may seem that the wool fabric would quickly feel very wet. However, wool can absorb up to 35% of its weight before feeling wet and starting to cling to our skin. This also helps us feel dry, warm, and comfortable in cold and damp weather conditions.

Odour resistance

We were talking a lot about sweating and moisture on our skin. There is one more aspect to sweating during exercising and that is the smell that comes with it. As you may know, it is not our sweat that stinks it is the bacteria that grow overtime on our skin and on the fabric where we sweated into. Wool garments, however, don’t start to smell, even if we wear our wool garments for a very long time. This is due to two things. The first one lets us return back to what we discussed earlier. Wool helps us manage our body temperature better, so we may sweat a little less. Once we do start to sweat, wool moves the moisture away from our skin, leaving our skin drier. Drier skin discourages the smelly bacteria to grow and therefore reducing the smell. Last but not least, wool can absorb and lock away odours where the bacteria cannot build up while we are wearing our wool garments. These odours are then only released when we wash or freshen up our garments in fresh air.

UV Protection

One more aspect we find important, especially when we are active outdoors, is protection from the sun. Compared to other textile fibres, wool absorbs UV-A and UV-B radiation and therefore protects our skin from the sun. Research shows that wool fabrics have a UPF factor of over 40. We still recommend protecting your skin with an additional sunscreen, but you can rest assured that your wool garments will protect your skin as well.

So these are the reasons why we think wool is an excellent fibre for our Core Merino garments. During a long run, you have enough work to do in keeping your breathing steady, keeping a good pace, watching out for any stones and roots to trip on. You should not need to worry if you are getting too hot or too cold or are beginning to annoy all your fellow running mates with your odour. When you are active in merino wool, you will stay comfortable and be able to perform at your best.

To find out more about all characteristics and benefits of merino wool click here.

The International Wool Textile Organisation has some more details about how wool improves our body’s wellness.

5 reasons to wear merino wool underwear all year round

With the days warming up you may have started to pack away some of your Merino garments in place of cotton and linen summertime alternatives. But there should at least be one Merino style that does not get packed away no matter the time of year, your wool undies. At Core Merino, we get asked a lot – why Merino wool underwear?

All of the same great benefits you get from your other Merino apparel apply to our underwear styles. Wool doesn’t hold onto moisture, so it dries quickly. If you’re looking for underwear that may not feel as sweaty in warmer temperatures or while you exercise, merino wool underwear will keep you drier than cotton. Now, there’s no way to sugarcoat it, wool undies are more expensive than those made of cotton or synthetics but have been made to be long-lasting and durable. The South African Merino wool used in our products is extremely fine and soft, so it won’t itch. It is hypoallergenic and it is an environmentally sustainable material. And because they are so lightweight, quick-drying and easy to clean, they are great for packing them for summer trips.

 

Here are five reasons why Merino underwear is worth the cost:

Wicks well: It is a strong, natural material that performs well in terms of wicking moisture away from your body, keeping your skin dry and chafe-free.

Climate control: Merino wool is very insulating for its weight. That means it feels very thin, yet it insulates you better than thick cotton would. As a result, you’ll feel warmer in colder conditions (even if the fabric is wet). Conversely, in warmer climates, you won’t feel as hot.

Odour free: Wool is naturally resistant to odour-causing bacteria, which helps keep it odour free even after consecutive days of wear. Normal fabrics such as cotton or synthetics will start to smell bad after you sweat into them.

Long-lasting: Merino wool is almost seven times as durable as cotton. Your wool underwear will stay with you long after your cotton undies have fallen apart.

Comfort: Our underwear styles have been designed with your comfort in mind and put to the test to make sure they are completely itch-free. They are made of the very best superfine South African Merino wool to ensure they are the most comfortable pair of briefs you own. 

 

Go ahead and try something new – you won’t regret it. And if you’re really ready to take the plunge check out our Brief Underwear Bundles for Men and our Bikini Brief Bundle for Women.

 

Merino Wool Briefs Bundle Men

 

 

 

7 benefits of wearing merino wool during your next yoga practice

Every yoga beginner notices quickly the importance of wearing the right clothes during yoga practice. In order to fully concentrate on your body and mind, you need to ensure that your clothes make you feel comfortable. More so, your clothes should become one with your body and not distract you in any way. This means that your clothes need to help you maintain the right body temperature and lets you move freely. Last but not least, no seam should feel too tight, nothing should push up or down your leg or upper body, and no strap should fall off your shoulder.

Two things to consider: Style and material

To find the most suitable garments for your yoga practice, you need to consider two elements: style of the garment and material.

You will notice quickly certain commonalities in yoga wear which is a combination of loose fit while also staying put. A yoga top for example should be loose enough for movement and comfort but yet not fall over your head when you arrive into a downward dog pose.

The other element to consider is material, which means having a closer look at what the garment’s fabric is made of. You will find a large variety from natural fibres such as cotton or linen as well as synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon. Each fibre has different benefits as well as disadvantages to consider for yourself. Cotton for example is cool and soft on your skin, however, when you do hot yoga, it will get too wet, heavy and eventually leave you cold at the end of your practice. Synthetic fibres might have better moisture-wicking properties but can start to smell and shed microplastics. However, there might be one fibre that has not yet been on your mind when it comes to yoga wear which may tick all the right boxes for you. You guessed it! Merino wool.

Merino Wool Yoga Wear Benefits

At Core Merino, we introduced our Yoga Collection two years ago and since then the collection has found more and more fans. The reason for the success is that merino wool has several benefits to offer for Yoga practice. Have a look:

Elastic

Merino wool has a natural elasticity which ensures that yoga garments made out of merino wool stretch with you, yet return to their original shape afterward. This ensures free body movement without any limits due to your clothes. It also means your clothes still look great after your stretching.

Grip

The grip of a fabric is something we seldomly think about, however for some yoga poses such as the Crow and Tree pose, the grip is essential to the success of holding and completing the pose. If the fabric is too sleek and slippery, your feet or knees will slide off your clothes and make it harder to stay in a certain pose. Merino wool has a wonderful soft touch with the right amount of grip to ensure slip-free poses.

Breathable

One important function of the clothes we wear during yoga is breathability. Wool has a natural ability to breathe by being able to absorb large quantities of moisture vapour and then move it away to evaporate into the air. This keeps your skin dry and ensures excess heat is released away from your body. Good breathability of your yoga wear contributes to you staying comfortable and able to focus only on your body and mind.

Temperature regulating

When you practice yoga, you also need to manage the temperature of your body well, meaning, you don’t want to get too hot and sweaty (with the exception of hot yoga) and also don’t want to get too cold, especially during your yoga meditation for example. Merino wool helps you regulate your body temperature without getting too hot or too cold. This property comes down to merino wool’s natural crimp. The crimp offers many tiny pockets of air within each wool fibre. These pockets of air make wool a great insulator for cold weather, keeping you comfortably warm.

The insulation and breathability properties of wool have an additional benefit. When you stop exercising chances are high that you soon will start to feel a post-exercise chill, especially when exercising in cold conditions during winter. Wool, however, releases the absorbed heat and moisture only slowly which ensures that we maintain higher skin temperature and less rapid cooling which avoids the post-exercise chill.

Odour resistance

With a few exceptions, yoga practice is a low sweat form of exercise. However, over time, also yoga wear will start to smell. As you may know, it is not our sweat that stinks, it is the bacteria that begin to grow overtime on our skin and on the fabric. Wool garments, however, don’t start to smell, even if you wear your wool yoga gear for several sessions. Wool can absorb and lock away odours where the bacteria cannot build up while we are wearing our wool garment. These odours are then only released when we wash or freshen up our garment in fresh air.

Natural, regenerative and biodegradable

One important element of yoga are the Yamas, the right living or ethical rules within Yoga, such as Ahimsa – nonviolence and Astheya – not stealing. This also reflects on how we treat our planet by not doing any harm to it and not stealing from it. Merino wool is in harmony with not doing any harm to the planet. Grown year-round by merino sheep, wool is 100% natural. Sheep grow wool by consuming a simple blend of water, air, sunshine and grass. In South Africa, for example, the sheep and wool industry have implemented a very high set of animal welfare standards, which ensure a happy life for the sheep and doing sheep no harm. Being a natural fibre, merino wool sheds no microplastic fibres but instead readily biodegrades once a yoga garment is no longer needed.

UV Protection

One more aspect that is important if you like to practice yoga outdoors is protection from the sun. Compared to other textile fibres, wool absorbs UV-A and UV-B radiation and therefore protects our skin from the sun. Research shows that wool fabrics have a UPF factor of over 40. We would still recommend protecting your skin with an additional sunscreen, but you can rest assured that your wool garments will protect your skin as well when you enjoy your piece of mind in the beautiful sunshine.

Try merino wool to help you find your inner calm

These are the seven of many more reasons why we recommend and love wearing merino wool for yoga practice. Yoga is all about practicing to focus on your body and mind. The fewer distractions the easier we find our inner calm. Merino wool yoga wear will definitely let you move freely and take care of your body, so you only need to focus on your practice. Best is to try it for yourself. We offer a special yoga wear bundle at a 20% discount, if you are curious.