Merino wool classic hiking socks are becoming very popular due to their comfort and high performance, but what’s the real story behind these products? Is it just marketing hype, or are Merino wool socks durable? Can they stand unfazed after 200+ washes and last hundreds of years? I’ll clear that up in this article.
Merino wool socks are durable because they’re produced through a high-density knitting process and undergo rigorous field tests. They have natural elastic components, preventing them from bagging and sagging, and can survive even the most extreme weather conditions.
Merino wool socks can withstand temperatures ranging from -20 C° up to +35 C°. Even the coldest weather can’t stop these socks. Merino sheep have been using Merino wool since time immemorial to keep their bodies warm, and now you can too.
Merino wool is so pliable that it can be bent 20,000 times without breaking. Softer than silk and more durable than steel, the natural fiber of Merino wool has no match for modern-day artificial materials.
What Makes Merino Wool Durable?
Merino wool is so durable because it can withstand a good deal of pressure before it begins to stretch, tear or rupture. Merino wool is woven and re-knit multiple times in increasingly complex patterns, which help to make its fibers stronger.
When Merino wool gets wet, its tensile strength decreases, so never wring or pull on your wet Merino wool garments.
In the finishing stages of Merino wool production, the wool is put into a water bath to prevent it from shrinking. For a more in-depth explanation of Merino’s durability, read on.
Excellent Wool Properties
If you study Merino wool, you’ll see that it’s naturally a protective covering for sheep—it keeps them cozy and safe from the weather, UV rays, abrasions, and germs. And if you wear Merino wool, you’ll experience the same benefits!
Blending Merino wool with other fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, makes it more durable. The amount of synthetic material added to the mixture depends on what kind of durability is needed.
For example, some manufacturers prefer to blend 20% synthetic material with Merino wool to make it breathable while keeping it durable. However, other manufacturers might blend 50% synthetic material into the Merino because they want a stronger fabric that will last longer, though it may not breathe as well as the original blend.
Blending Merino wool with synthetic garments can make Merino wool garments last longer, but the natural wicking capacity and breathability are diminished. You may ask, “Why would anyone want to ruin Merino wool’s inherent ability to stay cool and dry?”
Various companies have different goals and purposes. Some may want to produce durable garments, while others may want to manufacture breathable woolies that will keep your feet comfortable. The choice is yours! If you are interested in durability, purchase a blended garment, but if you want comfort or want to support your local economy, then choose a 100% pure Merino wool product.
Lanolin, a wax-like substance secreted by a Merino sheep’s sebaceous glands, is what gives the wool its unique properties. The lanolin protects against abrasions and harsh weather conditions and repels water. It also lends Merino wool a deep, soft feel and makes it last longer.
A quick Google search will reveal that lanolin is one of the best natural products for lubricating, polishing, and waterproofing surfaces to which it’s applied. Since Merino wool is coated with lanolin, the wool is naturally waterproof.
The water-repellent nature of wool means that water does not seep through it easily—it simply rolls off. This, in turn, makes wool products more durable and less likely to tear or fall apart when exposed to moisture, making wool a great choice for outdoor wear.
After being shorn from Merino sheep, Merino wool is processed into fabric through various production techniques. These include multiple steps which make the wool more robust and longer-lasting.
First, the wool fibers are drawn out, twisted, and bound together to make them stronger and longer.
Then, they are woven into a smooth and consistent fabric using a mechanical loom. Finally—after all that twisting and weaving—the finished fabrics are soaked in water to interlock their fibers, making them shrink-resistant. These multiple processes combine to make Merino wool strong, durable, and superior in performance.
People knit Merino wool in different ways, from thin to thick. The denser the knitting, the more durable the garment.
Although both thinly and thickly knitted wool can last for many years, thicker wool has the edge over its thinner counterpart because it has a better insulation capacity. There’s no rule of thumb regarding whether or not to buy denser Merino wool clothes since the wool itself can adapt to varying weathers. But if you live in a cold climate and have a wardrobe full of lightweight Merino wool clothing, you may want to wear several layers at once.
How Long Do Merino Wool Socks Last?
Merino wool socks can last up to three to five years. Unfortunately, unless you stick with a well-known brand, there’s no telling how long your Merino socks will last.
But if you purchase 100 percent wool socks from a reputable manufacturer, you stand a good chance of getting your money’s worth. And if you look after them properly, they should last even longer than five years.
Merino wool socks are highly durable, but they will wear out eventually if you use them every day.
A pair of socks will last longer if you use them moderately, and the lifespan of a sock depends on your type of activity—if you’re mostly sedentary and only wear them for foot protection at work, for example, they’ll last much longer than if you wear them in an extreme sport.
Final Thoughts: are merino wool socks durable?
Merino wool’s durability is not just because of the natural components—it also has a lot to do with how it’s processed. Merino sheep can live in harsh environments, but Merino wool can withstand even harsher conditions when blended with synthetic fabrics.
When all is said and done, Merino wool is one of the toughest textiles in the business, and it’ll stand up to just about anything you throw at it!