If you spend time on any of Reddit’s travel communities, like r/onebag or r/backpacking, chances are you’ll come across this tip pretty quickly: Pack merino wool.
And it isn’t just forums pitching the idea of merino wool, either. Major outlets like Lonely Planet and Conde Nast Traveller will often include merino products in their perennial roundups of the best travel gear.
So, what is it about merino wool that makes it so popular with world travellers? What inherent qualities make it preferable to – say – cotton or polyester?
In this article, let’s investigate why merino wool gets so much attention. Here are a few commonly cited reasons why travellers love merino wool clothing.
You Don’t Need Much
You hear this a lot on r/onebag, in particular – a community dedicated to packing light. You don’t need very many articles of merino clothing.
Because merino wool is antibacterial and sweat-wicking, it stays fresh for a very long time. Some travellers wear their merino shirts or Merino Tencel sweatpants for weeks on end, reporting no noticeable smell or griminess. Because of merino’s “freshness longevity,” you really only need a couple of pairs of any given article to last you an entire trip.
As a bonus, you don’t often have to make long trips to the laundromat when you pack merino wool, saving time and money.
It’s Breathable and Insulating
Merino wool is very versatile. Unlike other fabrics, it works as well in hot climates as in cold weather. Because of its ultrafine-fibred structure, the material is breathable, making it a clear choice for a warm day. However, it’s also insulating as a base layer, efficiently trapping your body heat on cold days.
Therefore, it’s popular with travellers who move around a lot and need clothing that adapts to different climates.
Merino Wool Is Wrinkle-Resistant
When you live out of a backpack or suitcase, you often suffer through a lot of wrinkly clothing, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to make a good impression abroad. (Or, heaven forbid, you want to enter the dating scene).
Travellers gravitate toward merino wool because it’s wrinkle-resistant. You can stuff it into the bottom of a backpack without worrying how it will look on the other side.
It Dries Quickly
If you’ve ever been caught in a downpour in Bangkok or splashed by a nearby waterfall in Costa Rica, you can attest to the necessity for quick-drying clothes. It’s not fun trudging around an unfamiliar place in wet clothing.
Merino advocates often cite the material’s natural ability to dry quickly as a selling point. All you need to do is hang the articles of clothing for an hour or so, and they are good to wear again.
Those are the main reasons why so many travellers and magazines recommend merino wool, but others point to its sustainability, softness and stylishness as further benefits. Try it for yourself next time you take a trip – or if you just want to lounge around the house in something comfortable!