Whenever you think about alpaca clothing, you probably think of gorgeous soft scarves and ponchos, more suitable for a city break than a trip to the mountains. However a closer look on the properties of alpaca wool shows that it is without doubt one of the highest performing fibres around. Like merino wool, alpaca is made of keratin protein fibres, which have been shown to operate very well in harsh conditions. Additionally, alpaca wool is exclusive in that its fibres are medullated – in layman’s phrases, sections of the fibre have less dense cores – which gives it an additional performance boost.
The key benefits of alpaca wool
Alpaca keeps you warm within the cold and cool in the heat. Like other types of wool, alpaca fibres have a natural curvature to them creating air-pockets within the weave. These air pockets help with thermal regulation across a range of temperatures. Additionally, the medullated cores mean that alpaca wool is additional cozy and additional cool!
Natural odour resistance and antibacterial properties. Artificial fibres have a repute for being stinky and producers have come up with treatments to resolve that, but alpaca wool doesn’t need any help in this department. It repels bacteria naturally, which means it is odour-free even after heavy use. Since you can wear alpaca for longer, one alpaca wool shirt can substitute or three synthetic or cotton ones.
Alpaca wool is breathable and dries quickly. Alpaca wool is perfect as a sweat-wicking layer as the fibres absorb sweat out of your skin and move it outwards, that means you’ll feel dry and contemporary even after a scorching, steep climb. When it does get wet, alpaca wool dries quicker than another natural fibre.
Light however highly durable. Alpaca fibres have high tensile strength and are quite stretchy, so they are less likely to break throughout production or when knitted into your alpaca wool base layer. The “semi-hollow” construction of alpaca additionally makes it further light, so alpaca wool mid layers are highly packable and perfect for keeping you warm round camp or as an extra layer on the airplane.
Environmentally friendly. Alpacas thrive when roaming semi-free (they’re usually corralled at evening for safety) at high altitudes in their natural habitat: the Peruvian Andes mountains. Alpaca wool is a renewable fibre as it grows back yearly without much outside influence and it biodegrades when thrown away. As a bonus, alpaca dung is used by farmers as fertiliser and cooking fuel; conveniently alpacas tend to make use of widespread dung piles, making it really straightforward to collect!
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