Is Alpaca Wool Fleece Warmer Than Merino Wool Fleece?
Both fibers can claim breathability and natural temperature regulation to a similar degree. Breathability in that the body benefits from the ease of air circulation through the fiber to allow for good natural body temperature regulation. The desired outcome being to keep maximum heat in during cold weather exposure and allow for moisture from perspiration to wick away from the body during warm weather. The question is which fiber do we feel keeps us warmer alpaca or merino? We seek to deduce our decision by analyzing some facts below.
What is Alpaca Wool?
Alpaca wool fleece is derived from the alpaca animal which is a member of the cameloid family native to the South American Andes region and a cousin of the camel. Alpaca fleece has been spun into garments and household textiles dating back to times of pre-Colombian civilizations. The animals are sheered once a year and their fleece is fully biodegradable.
What is merino wool?
Merino wool fleece derives from the Merino sheep species originally native to Europe and now flocked around the world. These breeds are found in large flocks in New Zealand and Argentina. The animals are sheered once a year and their fleece is fully bio-degradable.
Differences Between Alpaca and Merino Wool
We are going to disscuss the differences between Alpaca and Merino wool.
1. Hypoallergenic Properties
Alpaca fiber has little to no lanolin. The natural waxy coat that other natural fibers have to collect elemental impurities and keep them away from animal’s skin. The presence of this substance is what causes wool allergies. Merino wool naturally has this and must undergo much processing and at times harsh environmental washes to eliminate this substance. In the end Merino wool can still leave people prone to allergies and itching. Alpaca wool fleece is naturally hypoallergenic as its natural fiber content does not produce much to any lanolin. Therefore, it does not need over processing or chemical washes. Alpaca wool knits and scarves are a great option for people to have near their body if they are prone to allergies from other natural woolen fibers and seek to keep warm.
2. Fiber Strength & Weight
Alpaca wool fleece has tensile strength of 50 on average versus 30-40 for Merino wool. That means its fiber can resist pulling, stretching and natural wear to a higher degree. Also we are repeatedly asked if our Alpaca coats and Alpaca jackets will keep you warm because they are lightweight compared to wool coats. The answer is yes! Alpaca fiber is lighter in weight but superior in warmth than Merino wool because the fiber is narrower. Alpaca fiber is 20-23 microns in diameter while Merino wool is 35-45 microns in diameter. This means the same amount of wool or fleece needed to make personal products like Alpaca sweaters, Alpaca shawls and Alpaca coats as well as home products will simply weigh less and be less bulky when spun and produced from alpaca versus merino wool.
3. Water Repellant
Alpaca wool has a natural sheen to it that tends to wick away moisture rather than absorb it. Alpaca wool fleece absorbs less water or moisture than wool because alpaca only absorbs about 10-11% +/- of their weight in water, compared to merino wool at about 30%. Therefore, alpaca dries faster and insulates better than merino when wet.
Is alpaca warmer than merino wool? Yes
The concluding property that we would like to address is that of alpaca wool fiber having a hollow shaft which allows it to regulate heat and cold toward the body better than merino wool which does not have this property. Alpaca fiber’s inner hollow shaft gives the fiber that lightness with warmth, much like goose down when inserted into comforters and jackets. Alpaca is warmer than merino wool when compared in the same finished product.
Is alpaca wool a better fiber than merino wool? Yes
We at Alicia Peru – purveyors of luxury alpaca products for her, him and home, herald the benefits and eco sustainability of quality clothing and home accessories made of natural fibers. Our fiber of choice is alpaca wool fleece that can be spun into sweaters, made into fabric material for tailored coats and jackets and machine weaved into luxurious blankets and throws.
We believe that alpaca is a superior fiber to merino wool and that it will wear warmer, longer and better. We hope that you will explore our unique offerings designed in the Seattle area and manufactured with care in small batches in Peru.