Is Merino Wool Warm and Good for Winter Cold Weather?

When people shop for warm clothing, some common products typically come to mind, such as wool, cotton, and polyester. However, for those looking for a potentially superior option, merino wool is a product that has garnered a lot of attention lately. But is merino wool warm and is merino wool good for winter?

Yes merino wool is warm and good to use for winter cold weather. One of the major benefits of merino wool is it is very good at insulating despite being thin and lightweight, which makes it easy to layer. This is unique compared to many other fabrics on the market today that often are heavier and bulkier to produce insulating qualities.

Of course, it is worth noting that even though merino wool is good at insulating during winter months, it still has its limitations. Merino wool shirts and sweaters are a nice addition to a winter wardrobe, but won’t be enough on their own to keep you warm in brutal weather. You will still need to layer.

Merino wool is also quite popular because, when compared to regular wool, it is less bulky and also doesn’t give off an itchy feeling against the skin the way regular wool does. Merino wool is unique in that, because it is lightweight and has moisture-wicking capabilities, it also is used in certain types of summer gear.

The main takeaway is that even though merino wool is thinner than regular wool, merino wool is very good at insulating and can certainly be worn during the winter months. Because it has different qualities than regular wool, it is often used in unique ways compared to regular wool.

For example, the bulkiness and itchiness of regular wool does not make it a good match for things like t-shirts. But merino wool, because it is thinner and softer against the skin, is often used for making shirts. Because of this, it is common to see merino wool used in polos, sweaters, pullovers, and t-shirts. Regular wool, due to its bulky nature, is more common in outerwear.

All in all, merino wool is a pretty amazing product that is lightweight but still very good to wear during the winter months. With that said, there are obviously pros and cons, and there are a few things to consider before switching your entire winter wardrobe over to merino wool.

Is Merino Wool Warm?

Yes, as we discussed above, merino wool is warm and good to use for winter cold weather.

One of the major benefits of merino wool is it is very good at insulating despite being very lightweight. This makes it unique compared to many other fabrics on the market today that often are heavier and bulkier to produce insulating qualities.

Another key benefit of merino wool is it is thin, and therefore very easy to layer in winter. But merino wool has both pros and cons. Let’s take some time to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of using merino wool for winter.

The Advantages of Merino Wool in Winter

Merino Wool is Highly Insulative

Merino wool is very good at insulating heat during winter months. A merino wool shirt or sweater can help trap in body heat.

No, a merino wool shirt or sweater won’t be enough by itself to protect you against extreme cold, but as we will discuss in more detail below, merino wool is a great layer piece not only because it is good at insulating, but also because it is non-bulky (and therefore easy to layer).

Merino Wool Wicks Moisture

Getting wet is one of the quickest ways to begin feeling cold in the winter. Whether it be due to sweating, getting rained on, or taking an unplanned dip, moisture will cause biting temperatures in the winter.

Merino wool has natural moisture wicking properties. Made from inherently porous fibers, merino wool transports sweat and other moisture away from your body in the form of vapor, helping you feel dry in the winter and maintain a more comfortable temperature. 

Moisture wicking does not mean the same thing as waterproof. No, merino wool is not waterproof, but it does help wick away sweat.

Merino Wool is Lightweight

One of the key benefits of merino wool is it is thin, and therefore very easy to layer. The importance of layers is critical in maintaining warmth during the winter. However, when your clothes are heavy, bulky, and cumbersome, it can be difficult to get sufficient layers added while maintaining your mobility.

Due to its fine fibers, merino wool feels much lighter than other types of wool. This can be particularly beneficial in socks, where the lighter feel can make walking more comfortable, and when adding base layers, as you can put on additional layers of protection without feeling impeded.

The Disadvantages of Merino Wool

Merino Wool Can Be Expensive

While merino wool is an amazing, all-natural product, there are a few drawbacks that should be considered before making a purchase decision. Unfortunately, cost is one of them.

There is no way around it: purchasing clothing made from merino wool will cost you noticeably more than that made from other types of materials. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • It takes time for wool to grow, with most merino sheep only getting shorn once or twice a year
  • Raising sheep costs money, which is absorbed in the higher cost of the wool
  • Due to the fine nature of the fibers, it takes a large amount of merino wool to produce a garment–which obviously means more merino sheep are required
  • It is quite labor intensive to get merino wool ready for market

When it is all added up, it is not uncommon for a basic shirt made of merino wool to cost in excess of $50.

Softness Depends on Personal Preference

Many blogs and user reviews list softness as one of the primary benefits of purchasing merino wool garments. However, this may be a bit up for debate.

While some users prefer the fine, lightweight feel of merino products, other customers report liking the feel of cotton better. So although merino wool is softer than regular wool, there still may be other fabrics that feel softer to the touch.

Uncertain Ethics and Sustainability in Production

While merino wool certainly has the potential to be an all-natural clothing option, you should definitely research your manufacturer prior to jumping to any conclusions.

Some consumers find it beneficial to look into issues surrounding the raising and harvesting of wool so they can reach their own conclusions on whether or not the company uses ethical and sustainable practices in making its merino wool garments. 

Merino Wool Compared to Other Fabrics

Merino Wool vs Regular Wool

It should be noted: merino wool is not another name for wool. Merino wool comes from the merino sheep, which has a notably finer hair than the sheep used to produce wool used for regular wool products.

When compared to regular wool, merino wool is much better for products that come in contact with the skin, due to its lightweight, moisture-wicking properties. Furthermore, a merino wool shirt and socks can create warmth without giving off the itchy feeling wrought from most wool garments.

Merino wool is also less bulky, and therefore much more common in shirts and sweaters. Regular wool is more common in outerwear.

Merino Wool vs Cotton

Merino wool will be a much better choice in winter due to its insulation and moisture wicking. Cotton traps heat and becomes drenched when introduced to moisture, making a cotton garment lose its effectiveness the longer it is worn.

On the other hand, in addition to being more affordable, cotton feels softer to some and is usually easier to fabricate into a wide variety of styles.

Merino Wool vs Polyester

Polyester competes with merino wool as a preferred choice for base layers due to its lightness. However, it does not insulate as well as merino wool, and is fabricated from synthetic materials that do not give it the sustainability potential of merino wool. It is also not antimicrobial, meaning that it will trap odors faster than merino wool.

Like other materials listed, its main advantage over merino wool is lower cost. In addition, its synthetic fabrication will usually make it last longer than merino wool garments.

Other Wool Information

If you are interested in buying wool clothing for winter, or want to read more about the effectiveness of wool for winter, read our articles linked below:

The main takeaway is to expect merino wool to be warm and good to use for winter cold weather. It is unique compared to many other fabrics on the market today that often are heavier and bulkier to produce insulating qualities.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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