The last thing you want to wear when hiking is cotton. It holds and doesn’t effectively ‘wick’ moisture and gets mighty reeky when you sweat.
Cotton isn’t just a terrible fabric to hike in from a comfort perspective, but it can be dangerous if the conditions go bad.
So, what material is best for hiking? In particular, what sort of top should you be wearing? The answer is easy: merino wool.
It’s like merino wool was invented for hiking, or any physical activity really. Yeah, synthetics are an option too but they don’t have all of the qualities of merino wool. Merino wool ticks all the hiking clothing boxes.
Here are 3 reasons why you should wear merino wool when hiking.
Merino Wool is Odour Resistant
For many, this is the ‘magic’ of merino. It has this weird but super impressive knack for staying fresh and resisting odour.
It’s like magic.
You can wear a merino t-shirt on that long day hike and get back to the car smelling as fresh as a daisy. You can even wear it day after day and not offend others at the campsite.
I can hear you asking now, “but how does it resist odour?” Well, the fibres are such that they stop reek-inducing bacteria from growing.
For the best odour resistance opt for 100% merino wool rather than a blend.
Cotton and most synthetics suck when it comes to odour resistance.
Merino Wool Wicks Moisture
You’re in the Cathedral Ranges. You’re slogging it to South Jawbone Peak—anyone that has hiked it knows this is a slog.
You reach the peak. Your back is completely soaked with sweat.
You’re warm now, but there is an icy breeze brewing.
Give it a little while and your merino top will probably have evaporated much of your sweat. The same can’t be said about cotton.
You’re going to remain pretty comfortable in the merino on account of the fact that the moisture is readily wicked. You’re going to become mighty cold and uncomfortable in the cotton.
Additionally, merino never feels heavy and waterlogged like cotton.
Merino Wool is Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer
This is where merino absolutely earns its ‘wonder fabric’ status. It’s great when it’s hot, and when it’s cold.
A lot of people assume: ‘wool, it’s a cold-weather thing’. Nope. Not true.
Merino wool is insulative and will keep you warm when temperatures drop. It’s also highly breathable and allows your body to breathe when it’s warm.
Obviously, the thicker and heavier the fabric, the more suited it is to cold weather hiking. And the lighter the fabric, the better it is for summer hiking.