This is the second in our series of articles talking about the key performance attributes of Armadillo Merino®. Today, is it Comfort.
A topic that people do not necessarily consider, but a very important topic is Comfort, and the user's comfort when wearing clothing. There are many aspects to clothing comfort but the most popular merino attribute relates to the fabric’s ability to manage heat and moisture flows. This has a major influence on the thermal state of the body and on the wearer’s perceptions of their physical condition, and comfort.
Our body’s mission is to keep our core temperature as stable as possible through the vast range of exertion and climatic changes to which we are exposed. Merino apparel’s natural buffering capacity helps the body maintain a stable core temperature as it assists the process of heat loss in hot conditions and keeps the wearer warm in cool and damp conditions.
Comfort: in the heat
The degree of warmth felt by the wearer will depend on how well fabric moves heat and moisture away from the skin. The release of water vapour, which often condenses to liquid sweat, is the body’s way of releasing heat.
Merino fibre has a hydrophobic (water repelling) exterior and hydrophilic (water loving) interior that means it has the ability to absorb and desorb moisture and to gain and release heat depending on the external and internal environment - thus buffering the wearer against environmental changes and increasing the time before the onset of liquid sweat and fabrics feeling wet.
Comfort: in the cold
In the cold we attempt to trap more air (the most effective insulator) around the body by adding clothing layers. The thermal resistivity (R) of a fabric is a measure of its insulating properties – and hence of its relative warmth. Due to the natural crimp of the fibres, Merino fabrics and hosiery have an inherent bulkiness or loft as the fibres are unable to pack together too closely in the yarn structure. The resilience or elastic recovery of the Merino fibre allows this bulkiness to be maintained over time. (Leeder 1984).
Comfort: natural buffering
Merino wool has an important differentiator in that an appreciable quantity of heat is also generated as water is absorbed into the fibre. In an apparel this prevents the wearer from chilling in wet, cool conditions or post exertion. In hot conditions the reverse effect occurs, affording a natural means of buffering the body’s micro climate.
This heat is then lost again as the Merino garment dries (Leeder 1984) – effectively warming and cooling the wearer of apparel when needed the most, thus assisting in the maintenance of overall user comfort.
Comfort: skin health
Wool’s hygroscopic properties mean it is able absorb a significant quantity of moisture (up to 30% of it's weight), thus delaying any increase in the skin friction that might result in user discomfort and in the case of socks, blisters.
Another are of skin health is wool's natural anti-bacterial properties. Bacteria does not grow on wool, thus reducing potential the skin issues when worn in a hot and humid climate where bacteria is a significant concern.
User comfort is a topic that is often over looked when people are considering apparel. Your skin is your largest organ, so make sure this is comfortable by wearing quality merino wool next-to-skin clothing, preferably Armadillo Merino.
Ergonomics (Laing, Sims, Wilson, Niven and Cruthers,Nov 2007)