When people think about the most essential pieces of snowboarding and ski gear, socks are not typically the first item that comes to mind. But the truth of the matter is, they are an essential part of your feet’s arsenal of protection on the slopes and if you skimp on this item, you could pay the price in blisters, cold feet and frozen toes. Like snow goggles and boots, fine ski socks are more expensive, and the best ones are made from merino wool.
What is Merino Wool Socks?
Merino wool is a natural fibre that’s grown on Merino sheep, a breed of animals that originate from Spain. Nowadays, merino sheep mainly reside in New Zealand and Australia, and their soft wool is high in demand all over the world. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool, which makes it easy and pleasant to wear on bare skin. The fibre helps regulate the body’s temperature, wicking sweat away and not causing any odours. These benefits of merino wool allow snowboarders and skiers to go farther and experience more, making it the ideal performance material for snow activities. If you are still wondering are merino wool socks worth it, here are some of their features, proving that these garments are a great investment.
If you aren’t a big fan of wool, you will be happy to know that merino socks are much finer and softer than other wool socks. Besides making you feel more comfortable, they are also lighter on your feet and easier to wear with snowboarding boots. Plus, they offer great flexibility, not constricting your feet’s movement in any way.
One of the problems that many people have when wearing wool and other thick material, is extensive sweating. Feet, particularly, are prone to giving off bad odours when they sweat. The lanolin present in merino wool has antibacterial properties that kill the bacteria in sweat that creates odours. Without the buildup of odour causing bacteria, wool socks not only don’t stink after wearing them the entire day, but they also don’t develop that permanent stink that can’t be washed away. Depending on your circumstances, you can wear merino socks for multiple days without them becoming smelly or dirty.
Warmth and Temperature Regulation
Merino wool is the greatest insulator. The material provides exceptional warmth in extremely cold conditions, keeping snowboarders and skiers warm and safe even on the coldest days. But the material can also keep you cool on a hot day. Wondering how can this material do so much? Well, that’s due to its abilities to absorb and release moisture. As merino wool absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, a chemical process in the wool releases heat, warming the wearer. In cold weather, the crimp in wool fibres creates tiny pockets that trap warm air and act as insulators, holding the heat close to your feet.
Wick Moisture Away
Merino wool can absorb water molecules and pull moisture away from the skin of the feet to the surface of the fabric where it evaporates. Not only can this material wick sweat from the wearer, but it can also move water vapour before it turns into sweat. The wool’s ability to absorb and release moisture makes it one of the most breathable materials you can find on the market. As a matter of fact, merino wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water and still feel dry to the touch. This means that when wearing merino wool socks, you won’t end up with a clammy, damp fabric that clings to your feet.
Wool garments are popular for their durability and ability to hold their shape longer than other fabrics. The fibres of the material are made of an interlocking structure of keratin molecules that allow the wool to bend and stretch in multiple directions ten thousand times without damage. Silk and cotton, on the other hand, can only withstand fewer than 5,000 bends without breaking, and nylon only 75. The natural curl of wool fibres also adds to the elasticity of wool garments. They can be worn and washed many times without losing their shape.
How to Wash Merino Wool Socks?
For many people, especially those with a busy schedule, having to hand-wash pieces of clothing can be a real pain in the neck, but the convenience of merino wool is just another added benefit. All merino socks are machine washable – put them on a gentle cycle in cool water and use just a mild soap. Don’t put bleach or a fabric softener as these can reduce the material’s ability to naturally manage moisture and regulate your body’s temperature. Although you can tumble-dry merino wool, it is recommended air-drying it to further extend the life of the garment.