Alpaca wool vs Merino wool

Comparing the Natural Fibers – One on One with Alpaca Wool vs. Merino Wool

Alpaca and Merino are the legit players in the world of yarns. These are the supreme luxury yarns that have taken over the world by storm. They are famous in the clothing industry for their supreme softness and fine texture. The Alpaca wool has long been ruling the luxury clothing; it is an embodiment of old school elegance eliciting plushness to touch, softer and sturdier than the cashmere, exquisitely lighter than the sheep’s wool, a luxury commodity curating silhouettes that are warm, silky and enduring. Whilst Merino wool has relatively recently become the Rolls Royce of many fabric lines, this iconic maison has made its mark rightfully in the vogue industry, displaying finesse in its quality.  Though these luxury yarns are hefty on the pocket, they make up for the extra cost in terms of sheer warmth, softness, and fine texture. Today we are hoarding the iconic contenders Alpaca VS Merino Wool for a show down to have the hang of these exquisite luxury wools.    

The Basics

What is Alpaca Wool

This exuberant wool comes from the wool of Alpaca, a South American camelid identical to an Ilama. Alpacas are globally bred. This exquisite wool is known for its idiosyncratic molecular composition, combining the benefits of Merino wool and cashmere giving you a fine texture that is desirable for its softness, prompting excellent warmth, moisture-wicking breathability, and naturally hypoallergenic composition. Absolutely as fine as cashmere, this natural wool gives you ultra-luxurious feels and subtle texture that is hard to beat. 

What is Merino Wool

This top-notch wool comes from the wool of the Merino sheep, explicitly known for its soft touch and cozy comfort, indeed the most chosen fiber in the outdoorsy industry due to its well-documented attributes. 

The general benefits of Alpaca wool and Merino entail a few similarities that should be kept in mind while making the splurge. Both luxurious wools are merely the byproduct of natural protein fibers thus prompting a biodegradable utility. In addition these comforting yarns are rated as top of the line due to their breathability and thermo regulatory attributes i.e. keeping you cozy during the icy winters and cool during the scorching heat. And most importantly, they tend to be sweat wicking, naturally odor and UV resistant. However if you take a closer look you might find Alpaca acing the market.

A Comprehensive Break down to Alpaca’s and Merino’s Performance and Functionality

A vigilant analysis on the performance qualities of Merino Wool to those of the pure Alpaca yarns   that are exponentially composed of cent percent Alpaca fibers is imperative to tick all the quintessential facets to make a sound choice. 

Is Alpaca Wool better than the Merino Wool? 

Benefits of Alpaca Wool

Let’s break it down step by step to know how Alpaca holds upto Merino Wool.  

  • Softness
  • Have you touched the incredibly soft Alpacas? Alpaca fibers have a more uniform and smooth surface in comparison to the Merino, which makes them less itchy to the touch. These three factors are prudent to understand the imperative reasoning behind the plushy softness.  

  • Surface Scales on the Fiber
  • Under the microscope, the pictures illustrate there are tiny scales on the fiber that cause prickly feeling to the touch. But the detailed view defines that Merino fibers are more pronounced, protruding visibly from the surface than tha Alpacas; whose fibers depict scales that are relatively less protruding. This makes Alpaca wool more comfortable to the skin, whereas people find Merino fibers more itchy and irritating.

    Merino Fibers

    Alpaca Fibers

  • Lanolin 
  •  Lanolin, a wax that is found in the wool of Merino sheep, generally secreted by their skin’s pores to lubricate the wool and provide protection. However, this wax is not human friendly as it renders allergic reactions to people resulting in severe rashes and prickliness when comes into contact with the skin. Merino wool is processed via various chemical procedures to remove lanolin. Alpaca on the other hand secretes relatively less or none lanolin and is touted as the best hypoallergenic wool in the silhouette industry. 

     

                     

                               

     Merino Wool

     

        Alpaca Wool

  • Fineness of the Fibers

  •  

    Fineness of the fiber is the measure of the diameter mainly counted in microns. The higher the microns, the thicker the fiber is. The Merino fiber is 19-21 microns in diameter, whereas the royal Alpaca yarns measure 18-18.5 microns. The explicit benefit of Alpaca wool is that it's fine fibers feel softer against your skin, tending to be ultra-light and commendably luxurious.  

    Warmth of Alpaca VS Merino 

    Does Alpaca wool keep you warm? 

    Alpaca fibers have a quirky structure composite of hollow voids throughout the fiber. These hollow voids function to trap air. These microscopic pockets facilitate their thermal attributes, prompting a warmer ambiance for the wearer. Furthermore, these semi-hollow structures make them extremely light weight in comparison to the Merino fibers of similar fiber size. Mainly bred in the chill climate of Andes Mountains, this Alpaca wool in winters are geared by nature to bear the freezing climates. 

    Tensile Strength

    The mighty Alpaca Wool is capacitated to be more enduring and resilient, that is they can bear more pressure and tension. Research indicates that Alpaca fiber has the tensile strength up to 50N/ktex, allowing it to craft apparels that can withstand intense wear and tear. Whereas, the Merino fiber can endure pressure up to 30-40 N/ktex.  

    Breathability

    It is the ability of the wool to wick away moisture from your skin as you perspire. Both wools are proficient in effectively absorbing the moisture and carry it to the exterior of your garment so that it gets evaporated. This fundamental attribute wards off odor and adds to the comfort of the wearer. 

    Water retention

    Alpaca Wool is famous for being extremely water resistant. It mostly holds 8% of their weight in moisture at most whereas the Merino fiber can lock 30% of it. This benefit of Alpaca dictates that it is a perfect insulator and dries quickly in comparison to Merino. 

    Eco-Friendly

    Yes, Alpaca is your eco-friendly companion. This superfine fiber is never processed under harsh chemical treatments and synthetic processes likewise in Merino where it undergoes “super wash” process to make it soft, washable and comfortable. This super wash Merino wool requires a blend with multiple other synthetic fibers like nylon to enhance its luxury but this adds to the micro plastic pollution in the environment.  

     Is Alpaca Wool Valuable?

     In ancient times, use of Alpaca wool was only reserved for the royal people. Its exponentially exquisite properties and vitality make it the goddess in the yarn industry. It will cost you a fortune to get your hands on the top-notch Alpaca but isn’t it worth it?  The Alpaca is double the price than the Merino wool because it is renowned for its durability and softness. 

    Benefits of Merino Wool  

      1. Merino wool in winters keeps you warm and cozy due to its closely laid fibers creating small air chambers that trap heat acting as an insulator and displaying climate regulation effects.  
      2. Merino wool in summers is capable of holding upto 33% of body moisture in its fibers, that is how you keep dry, thus giving you a cooling effect when the moisture evaporates. 
      3. It is odorless because its scaly fibers don't let bacteria embed on its surface. In addition it has a self-cleaning effect. The Merino fibers are composed of two types of cells that rub against each other which renders them effective at cleaning themselves. 
      4. A substantial benefit of Merino is that it is more elastic and has a better memory, thanks to their molecular structure that facilitates our body to move freely.
      5. It resists wrinkles and drapes well on your body.
      6. Merino wool is a biodegradable, renewable and sustainable fiber.

    Is Merino washable?

     It is a perfectly washable wool that is capable of withstanding machine washing and it air dries quickly.

     

    Disadvantages of Merino Wool

    1. It is not as soft as it is advertised. The fibers are a bit scaly that makes it a bit less preferable choice.
    2. Merino Wool is not invincible. Despite being a temperature regulating fabric, its durability is questionable. Excessive usage results in holes over time.
    3. The merino doesn’t pop out of the ground like the popcorn in a microwave. The whole process requires time and patience.
    4. As the fibers are super fine you need to exhaust more raw material to curate an apparel.
    5. Though it is said to be an excellent moisture wicker, it does not release water as quickly as it is claimed.

    Disadvantages of Alpaca Wool

    1. Alpaca wool may cause itching and rashes in case of sensitive skin.
    2. The industrial dye may hamper the fiber structure.
    3. The Alpaca is hefty on the pocket.
    4. The long distance shipping may render a negative impact on it.
    5. The animal friendly treatment is not always guaranteed.
    6. The Alpaca wool is industrially dyed.
    7. The fibers are sensitive to moths.
    8. The mighty Alpaca is not Vegan

    Uses of Alpaca and Merino

    The substantially eminent Merino and Alpaca wool uses are listed below: 

    1. Alpaca and merino wool are a sustainable alternative when it comes to insulating your home because of their potential properties. 
    • Flame retardancy
    • Cent percent natural wool insulation is an environmentally acoustic and sound choice to keep your home warm.
    • Is easy to install.
    1. The wool insulated outerwear prompts breathability and insulation. Besides the apparel features resilient and explicit moisture wicking properties.
    2. Alpaca wool and merino are famous for sweaters but the fabric is making its way in the other facets of the fabric industry as well. For instance tops, blouses, t-shirts, scarfs, blazers and what not!
    3. Merino wool use entails crafting of active gear to prompt elasticity and flexible movements during the workouts.
    4. Both are used to manufacture blankets, throws and soft duvets because of their insulation and hypoallergenic attributes. 
    5. Merino wool and Alpaca are top-notch preferences for crafting the under laying padding in carpets.
    6. These exquisite wools are used in household upholstery, stuffing and making covers, blinds, curtains etc

    Properties

    Alpaca Wool

    Merino Wool

    Weight

    Light

    Heavier

    Fiber Structure

    Semi - Hollow

    Not Hollow, Solid

    Thermal Regulation

    5x Warm

    Warm

    Water Retention

    10% of its weight

    30% of its weight

    Fiber Scales

    Smoothest

    Prickly

    Microns

    18

    19-21

    Tensile Strength

    Highest

    High

    Odor-Resistant

    UV-Resistant

    Wrinkle Free

    Origin

    Single

    Multiple

    Hypoallergenic

    Yes

    No








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