Whenever you think about alpaca clothing, you probably think of beautiful soft scarves and ponchos, more suitable for a city break than a trip to the mountains. However a closer look at the properties of alpaca wool shows that it is among 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 unique in that its fibres are medullated – in layman’s terms, 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 in the cold and cool within 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 throughout a range of temperatures. Additionally, the medullated cores imply that alpaca wool is extra cozy and further cool!
Natural odour resistance and antibacterial properties. Artificial fibres have a reputation for being stinky and manufacturers have come up with therapies to resolve that, but alpaca wool doesn’t need any help in this department. It repels micro organism naturally, that means it is odour-free even after heavy use. Since you may wear alpaca for longer, one alpaca wool shirt can exchange two 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 from your skin and move it outwards, that means you’ll feel dry and fresh even after a sizzling, steep climb. When it does get wet, alpaca wool dries quicker than every other natural fibre.
Light however highly durable. Alpaca fibres have high tensile power and are quite stretchy, so they’re less likely to break throughout production or when knitted into your alpaca wool base layer. The “semi-hollow” structure of alpaca additionally makes it additional light, so alpaca wool mid layers are highly packable and ideal for keeping you warm round camp or as an extra layer on the airplane.
Environmentally friendly. Alpacas thrive when roaming semi-free (they’re often 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 use frequent dung piles, making it really easy to collect!
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