If you haven’t heard of it, merino wool is not your grandmother’s scratchy wool. It’s a fabric made from the wool of merino sheep. Most merino wool now comes from Australia and New Zealand and it’s highly sought after due to its properties of being warm, breathable, and water resistant. Merino wool is unique across the many varieties of wool because it is so fine, soft, and durable. All these qualities make it great for working out.
What makes Merino wool great for working out?
The notion of wearing wool while working out may seems strange. However it has pretty much all of the qualities that you’re looking for in fabric for endurance sports:
- It resists odors
- It feels soft
- it wicks moisture
- it dries quickly
- it is light weight
Did I mention that it resists odors? Let me say it again. It resists odors. It’s really kind of crazy. A miracle even.
Merino wool is odor resistant
One of the most amazing qualities of Merino wool is that it is odor resistant. You can literally go weeks without washing it. Because of that and it’s other qualities like being wrinkle reistant and that it’s so lightweight Merino wool clothing has become a travel life hack. People pack for long trips without any luggage, just a backpack, because they only need to bring a few merino wool t-shirts, a travel hoodie, and some sweats, and merino wool underwear, plus the clothes on their backs.
This hack applies to working out as well.
Merino wool is soft
The last thing you need when doing workouts with repetitive motion is abrasive fabric. You might not think of polyester or nylon as abrasive, but run a marathon and then let’s talk. Merino wool is stretchy and relatively soft and will be nice to your skin.
Merino wool is moisture-wicking
What happens when you sweat in a cotton t-shirt?
It holds all the moisture and weighs a ton by the time you’re finished.
What happens when you sweat in a polyester t-shirt?
It wicks the moisture, but somehow it holds on to the odors and, man, does it stink after time. Polyester seems to grab and hold on to odors like it’s its job. And no amount of washing can fix that.
What happens when you sweat in merino wool?
Angels hover around and bless the t-shirt and it’s wearer with dryness, comfort, and wonderful smells.
OK, not really. But merino wool does wick the moisture away, and while of course it gets wet, it doesn’t soak it up like a sponge. And therefore it dries relatively quickly.
Merino wool dries quickly
After a workout by the time I cool down, my merino wool t-shirt is usually dry. Combine that with it’s miracle odor-free qualities, that means I can just hang it up to air out a bit and wear it again. Or I can even wear it for the day. That means less wash! The worst part of working out is all the laundry it creates. No more!
Merino wool is light weight and stretchy
When you’re moving around in a workout, the last thing you want is to feel your clothes bouncing an pulling on you. Merino wool is very light weight and stretchy as well. It’ll move with you, get out of your way, and because it wicks moisture, it won’t soak up your sweat and become heavier.
Go weeks without washing
OK this freaked me out too.
It may seem weird to you, but seriously, you can go weeks without washing merino wool. Even if you’ve been sweating it it. I mean you need to keep yourself clean (especially if we’re talking underwear), and if you spill a meatball sub down your front, it’s not teflon!
But if you let it dry and air out, you truly don’t need to wash it after each wear. And with normal wear (not working out) it can go even longer. Trust me, I’ve tried it. I’ve been wearing merino wool t-shirts and hoodies pretty much exclusively for the past year and I’m always amazed that it never smells. You know that feeling when you can smell your own shirt. That just doesn’t happen.
I just wash them when I feel like I should (which is still probably more than necessary).
This is a strange thing to people who are trained and accustomed wear something once and throw it in the hamper. I mean this is pretty much our culture, right? Part of the issue is, what do you do with already worn clothes? There’s nothing to do but throw it in the hamper. You can’t just fold it up and put it back in the drawer. Or can’t you? Why not? Actually you can. It’s ok. Really. Or at least put it on a hanger and let it air out. It’s life changing!
Is merino wool worth the cost?
Now merino wool clothing is a bit more expensive than other fabrics. But when you consider how much it simplifies your life, cuts down on how many different articles you wear, wash, and own, it’s well worth it.
Try it for yourself
Like I said, I’ve been wearing merino wool shirts exclusively for the past year and it’s amazing. It’s simplified my life in so many ways. And that carries right into the working out. Right now, I’m wearing the merino wool t-shirt that I wore on the rower this morning a few hours ago. It doesn’t smell. It’s not wet. It’s just the same as it always is. In fact, it helps me squeeze in a quick workout in the middle of the day when I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise because I can’t roll back in all soaking wet.
My favorite merino wool clothing comes from Unbound Merino. They have a great selection of t-shirts (v-necks, crew-necks, and long-sleeve), hoodies, sweat pants, sweat shirts, underwear, socks, and more.
Merino wool T-shirts
Unbound Merino is my go-to for t-shirts. They’re 100% ultra-fine merino wool, which means you get 100% of the odor-reistant benefits as well as all of the other benefits that I mentioned above. You can get them in crew-neck, v-neck, and long-sleeve variations in all colors and sizes. They’re $85 at Unbound Merino
Merino Wool Sweat Pants
While bike shorts are needed for cycling, when I’m on the rower, I like wearing sweatpants as opposed to shorts. It’s more comfortable with the rowing motion, and fights off the chill in my basement! Not to mention that I’ll often just roll into the office with them on and wear them all day. They’re 29% merino wool, 69% tencel, and 2% spandex, which makes them nice and thick, strechy, warm, and comfortable. They’re $145 at Unbound Merino
Do yourself a favor and give merino wool a try. To say that it’s a miracle fabric and life-changing isn’t really an overstatement.