15 Best Wool Socks for Men and Women in 2019 (Merino Wool)

Wool Socks Buying Guide

If you’re looking for a pair of high-quality and comfortable wool socks, this page is for you! Some of the socks on this list even have a lifetime warranty. Yes, you heard that right. Socks with a lifetime warranty!

In my opinion, socks are the most overlooked and underappreciated pieces of gear. The truth is if your feet are cold, wet, and miserable, then you will be too.

The good news is high-quality merino wool socks are very affordable, and along with being the absolute best material to keep your feet warm and dry, they’re super comfortable!

It’s a crazy fact that humans have been making textile advancements for centuries, but the latest and “state of the art” fabrics can’t compare to what nature has already provided us. But, if you’re looking for a true “man-made” solution to cold feet, check out my review on heated socks.

This list took me a long time to put this list together because I only wanted to include the very best products. If you know of any other good socks you think I should add to this list let me and everyone else know in the comments!

Quick navigation: Here are the best wool socks in 2019.

Wool is simply one of those materials that just can’t be matched by any type of synthetic fabric when it comes to keeping your feet dry and/or warm.

If you’re searching for a pair of warm wool socks for skiing, hunting, or to hit the hiking trail with, I’ll show you some of my favorites below. Now obviously I have only tried socks designed for men. The good news is socks for men and women are pretty similar. The biggest difference between them is size and color. In this guide part of the the review, I’ll also explain the different types of wool and why merino wool socks are so popular.

In wet, cold weather, traditional cotton athletic or boot socks simply often will not cut it. When cotton gets wet, it loses all insulating properties; therefore, you might as well not be using anything to keep your feet protected.

Plus, heat isn’t the only factor to consider. You need to keep your feet dry too. If you’re hiking around and your socks are wet, your feet are going to get torn up and blistered (I’ve seen this way too many times in the Marines). If you’re just wearing cheap cotton socks and your moving around your feet will start perspiring and eventually you’ll end up with damp, cold feet.

The answer to the sock dilemma is simple; invest in some high-quality wool socks, specifically super soft merino wool socks. Wool provides many unique benefits over cotton which make it the fabric of choice for wintertime wear.

The 10 Benefits of Wool Include:

  1. Wool is a good insulator: unlike cotton. As it is cool out your feet are going to be warm and toasty in the wool socks.
  2. It absorbs more moisture: a lot more than cotton. Wool actually can hold 1/3 of its weight in moisture before it’ll even begin to feel “wet.”
  3. It insulates even when wet, which is ideal for sweaty feet.
  4. It dries a lot faster than cotton or other synthetics.
  5. Wool reduces foot odor. Due to their physical nature, wool fibers naturally possess anti-bacterial properties and are, thereby, odor resistant….

…meaning they do not need to be washed each time you wear them. In fact, they may be worn several times before washing.

They’re usually flame retardant, water repellent, and durable.

  1. moisture-wicking properties and capability of trapping air make it an even better insulator.
  2. provide natural colors, certain wools requiring no dying.
  3. Less environmental impact, compared to utilizing plant fibers
  4. It actually helps the sheep.
  5. Renewable and easily recyclable.

Wow that’s a lot of advantages… there must be some disadvantages.

The is wool isn’t the best for literally everything. I’ve listed the few disadvantages of wool in the FAQ section below, so I won’t list it again here.

Ok, you probably didn’t read all that, but either way, let’s get into the list of the best wool socks in 2018!

Here Are the Best Wool Socks in 2019

1. Danish Endurance Merino Wool Hiking Socks

Danish Endurance Merino Wool Socks

Gender: Men or Women (Neutral)
Sock Style: Hiking, trekking walking, or everyday wear.
Material Composition:

  • 33% Merino wool
  • 33% Acrylic
  • 33% Polyamide
  • 1% Elastane

These socks are designed a Danish adventurer and former US Navy SEAL, so you can rest assured that they will not quit on you when you need them most! SEALs know a thing or two about the importance of high-quality socks. These socks combine merino wool with an exclusive performance material blend designed to wick away sweat then evaporate it quickly. That means dry and comfortable feet!

Key Features:

  • Organic anti-bacterial properties for keeping feet comfortable, warm, and dry while trekking, hiking, skiing, long walks, or if you simply have to have a great pair of day-to-day socks. Users can select from a 1-pack or 3-Pack. These man an ideal idea for a gift for both young and older folks.
  • Quality stitching: These socks are manufactured and designed in Europe: The company doesn’t believe in inexpensive Chinese socks in bad quality made under poor working conditions.
  • Designed by a Navy Seal: Danish Endurance Merino Wool Trekking and Hiking Socks are developed and designed along with Former Navy Seal and Danish Adventurer Erik B. Jorgensen. These are easily some of the best wool socks on the market right now. Not that most people care too much about how their socks look, but these socks are extremely fashionable, and as far as socks go they have a lot of nice features. These socks are great for long days of trekking, hiking, skiing, walking, and/or backpacking.
  • Merino wool blend for durability and strength: The exclusive merino wool blend will wick away sweat and allows it to evaporate quickly, so feet remain comfortably dry. Their targeted ventilation mesh zones permit a steady airflow and via the padding from heel to toe, socks absorb jarring shocks and its full cushion minimizes chafing.

2. People Socks Merino Wool 4 Pack

People Socks (4-Pack)

Gender: Men or Women (Neutral)
Sock Style: Ankle socks
Material Composition:

  • 1% Spandex
  • 7% Poly
  • 21% Nylon
  • 71% Merino wool

The People Socks Brand is growing quickly for good reasons. They specialize in they on thing, and that’s putting out high quality socks at a reasonable price point. These socks designed from the finest quality of Australian Merino Wool, as well as knitted within the United States. Every pair is cushioned, as well as reinforced from heel to toe for optimal durability and comfort. With this socks on you can say bye bye to numb or uncomfortable feet.

Key Features:

  • Anti-fungal: The People Sock Brand Below Zero offers anti-funal, wicking protection with arch support
  • Women’s 11 to13; Large shoe size Men’s 9-1/2 to 13; Shoe size Men Small (5 to 9) Women (6 to 10-1/2)
  • Reinforced Heel and Toe
  • Made in the USA

3. CloudLine Merino Wool Socks

Cloudline Wool Socks for Men and Women

Gender: Men or Women (Neutral)
Sock Style: Crew Socks
Material Composition:

  • 4% Spandex
  • 33% Nylon
  • 63% Ultra soft Merino wool

Designed with ultra-fine 22.5 Micron Merino wool. Made for long-lasting softness.

If you’re looking for some of the softest merino wool hiking socks on the market, look no further! These are designed to fit both women and men. The medium weight wool socks are made with standard cushioning through the entire sock for performance, warmth, and comfort.

Merino wool is sourced from the sheep species which generates very soft and fine wool. It isn’t itchy and coarse like additional wool socks, yet incredibly soft, while still retaining all the wool’s additional amazing properties.

Key Features:

  • Vibrant colors
  • Anti-microbial
  • Quick wicking
  • Machine washable (hang while drying)
  • Made in the USA

Men’s Wool Socks

4. Pembrook Wool, Thermal Merino Wool

Men's Wool Socks

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: Crew Socks
Material Composition:

  • 15% Nylon
  • 15% Acrylic
  • 10% Elastic
  • 60% Merino wool

The material composition of these socks makes them great for any season. These looks feel great with work boots and can even be used for running and athletic purposes. Pembrook socks are simple to care for, so you can rest assured that they’ll survive the wear and tear of daily life. For best results, just turn them inside out, wash in cool water and allow them to air dry. The woolen socks are sturdy, machine washable, and durable so your money goes a long way.

Key Features:

  • Thick and fluffy socks, and are guaranteed to be 100 percent comfortable! This brand has many loyal customers because they have great customer service and they put out great socks. Since 1976, Pembrook has been a family business and they fully stand behind the quality of their products.
  • Versatile: Good for any season. Because of the material blend, the socks are good for year-round hunting, camping, running, hiking, outdoor work, and a variety of athletic pursuits or just day-to-day wear. They also will keep your feet warm and toasty during wintertime activities such as snowboarding, skiing, and even extreme cold inside a snowy, remote cabin.
  • Merino Wool: Pembrook likes to ensure that their customers are given the best type of comfort wool socks can offer. Their premium socks are designed from an optimal blend of 15% nylon, 15% acrylic, 10% elastic, and 60% merino wool for maximum durability and performance. Socks that have greater wool content quickly lose their shape and do not wash well.
  • Technical cushion, support, and venting features. Reinforced insoles and toes guarantee that their socks are going to live up to the rugged action inside the snowy, remote wilderness. However, they will also work for a simple visit to the store or merely sitting on your sofa watching a game.

5. Darn Tough Wool Boot Cushion Hiking Socks (Recommended)

Merino Wool Boot Sock

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: Boot Hiking Socks
Important Note: These socks come in two models. One has full cushioning (including the top of the foot) and the other does not. You can find the socks with full cushioning on Amazon here.
Material Composition:

  • 3% Lycra Spandex
  • 33% Nylon
  • 64% Merino wool

These American made wool socks are some of the highest rated on the market. These are perfect for die hard hikers and/or construction workers who spend a lot of time in boots.

Hikers who log hundreds of miles upon the lengthy American trails have, for a long time, coveted these hiking socks because they offer incredible durability, comfort, and dependability. These wool socks over-deliver within the most demanding conditions.

Key Features:

  • Made from fine gauge Merino wool that’s naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial
  • True Seamless design offers a smooth performance fit; no bunching, no blisters, and no slipping
  • Cushioning alongside the bottom of the foot offers the ideal quantity of support
  • Manufactured in the USA

6. People Socks Brand 71 Percent Merino Wool

Crew Wool Socks

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: Crew Socks
Material Composition:

  • 1% Spandex
  • 7% Polyester
  • 21% Nylon
  • 71% Merino wool

The People Socks brand designs some of the best hiking wool socks. They’re an excellent alternative to pricier brand name socks which are of the same quality, yet more money. They’re made to last and will not fall apart after a couple of washes like inexpensive socks.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Itch-free
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Machine Washable (hang when drying)

7. Darn Tough Socks Ankle Socks

Wool Running Socks

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: One-quarter sock height — The sock sits right above the ankle. This “just right” height is light and fast. Good for running shoes and low-cut hikers. For taller socks, check out style 1466.
Material Composition:

  • 2% Lycra Spandex
  • 37% Nylon
  • 61% Merino wool

The Darn Tough sock brand is hands down the best pair of socks you will ever use, the first sock you will reach for inside the sock drawer, as well as the longest-lasting sock you will ever own. Its performance fit will mean no bunching, no blisters, and no slipping. Its high stitch density of 1441 stitches/ sq. in. offer extreme durability and outstanding cushioning without excessive bulk. Its fine gauge high quality knitting makes sure there is unprecedented durability and the Darn Tough brand’s special “put it on, forget it is on” feeling. Quick action wicking will pull dampness away from your skin, plus, undetectable seams get fused together for an invisible, ultra-smooth feeling.

Key Features:

  • Guaranteed for life: The Darn Tough brand’s notorious guarantee – if these socks develop holes, tear, or wear, the company will replace them without any questions asked.
  • Quality stitching: The socks repel odor and bacteria. The socks feature 1441 stitches/ sq. in. and offer extra durability, cushioning, as well as foot hugging fit.
  • Mid-level cushion: The socks offer mid-level cushion density under the foot. They offer an ultra-comfortable and warm options as conditions demand it.
  • Made in the USA

8. SmartWool Men’s Hike Medium Crew

Men's SmartWool Socks

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: Medium Crew Socks
Material Composition:

  • 1% Elastane
  • 33% Nylon
  • 66% Merino wool

The story of Smartwool began upon a Colorado ski slope with the thought that toes did not need to be cold. One simplistic pair of Merino brand socks challenged the traditional wisdom and changed the way outdoor lovers looked at their feet. Though, it isn’t only about the Merino. It is what the company does with it that makes it different. For more than two decades, they have been pushing Merino’s boundaries to develop smarter, more capable items from head to toe.

Key Features:

  • Elasticized arch brace
  • Flat knit toe seam
  • Medium cushion that absorbs trail impact
  • Machine Washable
  • Knit in the USA

9. CloudLine Super Soft Merino Wool Compression Socks

Cloudline Wool Compression Socks

Gender: Men’s
Sock Style: Over-the-calf athletic socks
Material Composition:

  • 15% Spandex
  • 29% Nylon
  • 56% Ultra fine Merino wool

The story of Smartwool began upon a Colorado ski slope with the thought that toes did not need to be cold. One simplistic pair of Merino brand socks challenged the traditional wisdom and changed the way outdoor lovers looked at their feet. Though, it isn’t only about the Merino. It is what the company does with it that makes it different. For more than two decades, they have been pushing Merino’s boundaries to develop smarter, more capable items from head to toe.

Key Features:

  • Unisex Sizing
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Made in the USA
  • Compression (~15mmHg), merino wool
  • Softest compression socks in the market

Women’s Wool Socks

10. Cable II Women’s Smartwool Socks

Women's Smartwool Socks

Gender: Women’s
Sock Style: Crew Socks
Material Composition:

  • 1% Elastane
  • 29% Nylon
  • 70% Merino wool

Whether you are hiking, running, or riding, these socks will keep you comfy all day long. Merino wool is one of the most advanced fibers in nature, which makes it the perfect option for high-performance garments. Its natural capability to wick moisture, breathe, and resist smells make it the ideal material for nearly all activities.

Key Features:

  • Knit in the USA
  • Signature Smartwool Material

11. Solax Women’s Merino Wool Hiking Socks (Good Value)

Solax Womens Hiking Socks

Material Composition:

  • 2% LYCRA
  • 14% Nylon
  • 17% Acrylic
  • 29% Polyester
  • 38% Premium Australian Merino Wool

10 Bucks? These things have to be junk right? Surprisingly no, they’re actually some of the highest quality socks out there. As far as getting the most bang for your buck, they’re nearly impossible to beat. The socks are made of Australian Merino wool, and Japan Dongli anti pilling fiber to make sure you can wash repeatedly without deformation.

Key Features:

  • Leg compression and elastic arch offers all-day support and its reinforced heel and toe offers additional padding for targeted protection. It’ll protect feet from shear and prevent uncomfortable blisters.
  • True Seamless construction offers a smooth performance fit; no blisters, no bunching, and no slipping
  • 38% Merino Wool has natural wicking, odor-resistant, anti-bacterial properties, resistant properties which keep you comfortable and dry whether you’re in cold or hot weather. Wool is more breathable and will absorb moisture better than additional fibers.

12. Midweight Warm Skiing Sock

Wool Ski Socks

Sock Style: Crew
Material Composition:

  • 9% Spandex
  • 14% Polypropylene
  • 22% Merino Wool
  • 55% Nylon

Pure Athlete manufactures some of the best selling ski socks for women and men. They’ve spent many years perfecting their technology to offer an advanced ski sock that fits comfortably while also providing top-notch performance.

Key Features:

  • 100 percent satisfaction guarantee: The company knows they’re the best ski socks you’ll ever wear. They guarantee it. If not completely satisfied for any reason, they’ll refund your purchase completely without any having to answer any questions.
  • Ski Socks Stay Up: Their special no-slip cuff at the upper part of the ski socks keep the socks from sliding or slipping into your ski boots.
  • Cushioned for Comfort: All throughout the ski socks, light cushioning is offered to assist in providing superior comfort while utilizing ski boots.
  • Midweight Thickness: These ski socks are mid-weight thickness to offer the maximum blend of warmth without having to affect the fit of your snowboard boots or skis.
  • Merino Wool: All pairs of ski socks are designed with a merino wool blend that keeps your feet warm. Also, it helps to keep your feet dry when skiing because of Merino wool’s moisture wicking properties.

13. Kirkland Wool Socks 4 Pack (Costco Brand)

Costco Brand Wool Socks

Sock Style: Trail sock
Material Composition:

  • Merino wool

If you’re looking for a tried and true brand you can’t go wrong with Kirkland. Their socks are one size fits all!

Key Features:

  • Breathable mesh that has an arch support.
  • Moisture-managing fibers.
  • Smooth toe finish and seam for extra comfort.
  • Reinforced toe and heel and cushioned footbed
  • Extra soft and fine merino wool offers comfort for all seasons.

14. Darn Tough Women’s Boot Socks (Recommended)

Darn Tough Women's Hiking Socks

Gender: Women’s
Style: Boot Sock / Hiking Sock
Important Note: These socks are available in many color options. There also have another great wool crew sock model you can find here.
Material Composition:

  • 67% Merino Wool
  • 29% Nylon
  • 4% Lycra Spandex

In the intro, I talked about socks with a Lifetime Guarantee. These socks have just that, along with a reputation for being some of the most comfortable and reliable socks out there! Sure, they’re a little more expensive than some of the other socks on this list, but they’re a true “buy once cry once” type of purchase. They are fully cushioned, meaning even the top of the sock is padded. This makes them super comfy in boots of any kind, even ski boots! They company does sell a model without padding on the top, but these are by far the most popular and what I recommend.

Key Features:

  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • Performance fit
  • Made in the USA
  • Very comfortable

15. CloudLine Merino Wool 1/4 Crew Running and Athletic Socks

Wool Running Socks

Sock Style: Crew
Material Composition:

  • 4% Spandex
  • 33% Nylon
  • 63% Ultra soft Merino wool

CloudLine was developed with one purpose in mind: to make a longer lasting, better, more comfortable, higher performing sock for athletes and hard-core hikers.

Key Features:

  • Lifetime Guarantee. Made in the United States with merino wool, as well as cushioned with the user’s free spirit in mind. Excellent for trail running, running, trekking, hiking, walking, biking, or merely hanging out at the local coffee shop.
  • Fast wicking to keep your feet dry; vibrant colors to keep users looking good; anti-microbial to keep your feet fresh.
  • These are the softest wool socks in the market. They are premium merino wool, medium weight quarter-top running socks that have reinforced cushion zones for comfort and durability.

FAQ

Can you wash wool socks in a washing machine?

Yes!

  1. Turn socks inside-out.
  2. Wash in the machine on gentle cycle in cool or warm water.
  3. Don’t add fabric softener or bleach.
  4. Hang dry or tumble dry on low.

It is not recommended to put wool socks in a dryer.

Are wool socks only for hiking?

Usually, wool socks are utilized for things such as skiing or hiking in cool weather. They also are fantastic for things such as running because they’ll keep your feet dry.

Your option of running socks may be the difference between a pain-free, comfortable run and an uncomfortable one. Using the incorrect kind of socks may lead to chafing, foot blisters, corns, and other problems. Some running enthusiasts use the incorrect socks for years before they recognize how much better their feet might feel in the proper kind of socks.

Are there any disadvantages to Wool?

But, the world of wool isn’t all rainbows, unicorns, and toasty, warm feet. There are a few disadvantages to wool.

They aren’t very convenient to wear all of the time. The majority of manufacturers advise against putting socks into the machine washing, so hand washing and lying flat to dry is usually suggested. It’s annoying and tiresome, even if you do not need to do it every time the socks are used. However, some businesses utilize wool blends which allow the socks to take the beating of the washing machine. (Check the label before purchasing.)

It also is inadvisable to use wool socks for extended periods while strolling on a carpet as the fiber friction is not good for a socks’ longevity.

In addition, if you purchase non-merino, low-grade wool socks, be ready for a bit of itchiness. Merino wool does not itch whatsoever, yet lower grade quality wool absolutely does. No one enjoys itchy feet.

As for brands, Wigwam and SmartWool make outstanding socks. Each year Wigwam additionally designs a sock for Costco that is released underneath the Kirkland Signature brand which are highly regarded.

What are the different types of wool?

Lambswool

Like most hair and wool, the initial sheep shearing usually produces the softest and finest wool. It’s called Lambswool and typically is shorn from lambs that are younger than 7 months of age. Sheep yield from 2 – 29 pounds of wool per year depending upon health factors, breed, etc. A few breeds generate a fleece that has a high-resilience that’s hard wearing; thereby great for upholstery, rugs, and carpets while additional breeds generate a fine fleece that has a gentler hand feel that’s thereby popular in clothes.

Merino Wool

Merino is the softest and finest sheep’s wool, and it’s sourced from the Merino sheep. It’s the most popular breed of sheep utilized for clothes and generates the most luxurious-feeling wool, well-known for the fine staples it produces at around 20 to 25 microns in diameter, as well as gentle hand feel. Merino has outstanding drape because of its lengthy staples at around 4.5”. The sheep comes from Spain, yet these days around 80 percent of all Merino is sourced from Australia.

As with other sheep’s wools, merino requires scouring before being spun into yarn—a time-consuming and energy-consuming process that involves rinsing and washing the wool. It eliminates the grease lanolin — a byproduct utilized in cosmetics yet means that just around 50% of the first fleece may be used in the making of clothing. The process of scouring is special to wool, as the hair from rabbits, alpacas, or goats does not have lanolin. However, producing merino still isn’t as ineffective as the generation of cashmere.

Cashmere

It’s sourced from a cashmere goat’s undercoat which just makes up around 1/4 of the overall fleece. Notorious for its soft hand feel, it’s very fine and has a diameter of roughly eighteen microns, like ultra-fine merino. The finest cashmere is sourced from the undercoat’s neck area, which must be combed over 1 – 2 weeks. Typically, one goat yields 150g of cashmere/year which is a tiny output, as compared with the remainder of the fibers, thereby explaining cashmere’s high cost.

Cashmere has a likewise sheep’s wool resilience, yet its fine fibers usually make it gentler than wool. As it’s finished into garments, the nap typically is raised upon the wool in order to improve its softness. The majority of modern-day napping machines utilize metal tines, yet more conventionally, dried teasel pods were utilized and still are thought to be superior for delicate and soft materials such as cashmere.

Mohair

It’s obtained from an Angora goat. Mohair has a bigger undercoat, as compared with cashmere goats, yet guard hairs from its topcoat are oftentimes combined with the hairs from an undercoat. It’ll give mohair its frizzy, distinct appearance with the somewhat short, stiff hairs that are visible in the end product.

The fibers of Mohair are approximately 25 to 40 microns that’s like wool; however, it is notorious for being smoother, more resilient, and stronger than wool because of its long staples at 4” to 6”. The finest fibers of mohair derive from the initial 3 shearings of an Angora goat. Mohair has less-pronounced scales than wool, reducing the shrinkage/tangling and also minimizing the dirt it picks up. An Angora goat is farmed like sheep, yet on a smaller scale, which may be why it’s somewhat pricier than wool. One goat yields about 3 to 5 kilos of mohair in a single year–substantially more than cashmere goats; however, its final product isn’t as exclusive and soft.

Angora

This derives from the undercoat of the Angora rabbit with very fine fibers at roughly 10 to 15 microns, making Angora the finest and softest of all of the above. Angora’s quality depends upon the guard hair proportion, as well as undercoat that makes up the completed angora.

They are comprised of 4 primary breeds: Satin, Giant, French, and English, which all are domesticated for the production of angora. Their hair isn’t long, but is extremely light, and it has a low resilience. Because of that, Angora often is combined with more elastic or stronger materials. The production of Angora is both costly and time consuming and the ethics of its production technique has been a concern for many people. Sometimes farming angora involves the animals being kept inside different cages and within almost total darkness in order to guard their undercoat.

To further keep angora hair from matting, they’re regularly combed. The finished angora’s hair is retrieved by either shearing or plucking, each one having its own benefits. Plucking returns the highest quality yet takes more time – shearing will make for a lesser quality, however, yields more hair. Angora rabbits quickly grow hair, but a single rabbit will only still produce about 400g per year.

Alpaca

Alpaca hair is derived from an animal that lives in South America, the Alpaca, which generates some of the finest hair around. Alpaca fibers, which range from 15 to 40 microns, may be extremely soft and fine, yet are usually very itchy over or at 30 microns, and thereby less than likely to be utilized for garments. Typically, somewhat stiffer than cashmere or merino, alpaca fibers sometimes are combined with wools such as Merino that improve the draping qualities.

Just like hair from rabbits and goats, it requires less preparatory measures, as compared with wool, and hair from Alpaca’s is naturally hypoallergenic, which arguably makes it superior to that of cashmere. Suri Alpacas are extremely rare breeds and yield some of the most exclusive alpaca. The various Alpaca breeds provide a broad array of natural colors, with 5 primary colors, and furthermore 22 colors to select from. The average Alpaca yields roughly 3.5 kilograms in one year.

What exactly is wool?

Wool refers to the full-fleece upon the exterior sheep skin whereby hair typically is separated into two kinds: the topcoat (additionally called ‘guard hair’) and undercoat.

Guard hair is upon the exterior of the mammal and usually utilized for rain protection; it is coarser and thicker than its undercoat whose fine hair is utilized to keep an animal toasty and warm.

Its undercoat is highly-prized, soft, and usually favorable for using in knitwear; however, they’re occasionally combined into the exact same finished yarn (that is, in mohair). Generally, fibers from wool are thicker, shorter, and possess more pronounced scales, whereby hair generally has longer fibers, is finer and possesses less pronounced scales.

Many of the properties related to hair and wool come from keratin, a natural protein which is discovered inside the skin of mammals and fibers of the hair. Keratin’s bilateral core causes the hair fibers to bend and twist, providing wool its organic resilience and crimp. One other advantageous keratin property lies within its resistance to flames that unlike plant fibers, will make the fibers of hair and wool self-extinguishable as they no longer are exposed directly to the flame.

However, one downside is that hair and wool become weaker as exposed to water, with wool fibers losing around 1/4 of its strength as it is wet. One other downside of hair and wool (and additional organic fibers) is that they tend to become food for moths, an issue that isn’t shared by synthetics. The advantageous properties of hair and wool makes it unparalleled by any fibers that are man-made that is known today.

How long has wool been used for clothing?

Hair and wool in clothing is something humans have utilized since at 6000BCE, as ancient Iranians started to domesticate sheep, in order to keep our bodies cozy and warm. What began as an instinct for basic survival for all hairless animals that were at the top of the food chain since has evolved into a field of farming domesticated mammals within the name of fashion. Most folks still do depend on clothing for utilitarian reasons; however, many additionally have the luck of having the ability to hand choose their best selection of knitwear, whether it’s heavy or light, dyed or natural, cashmere or merino.

Apart from the luxurious and soft feeling oftentimes related to cashmere, it may be challenging for most to tell the difference between the various types of hair and wool. Even though there are several similarities in the farming processes and properties of hair and wool, they usually are distinguished between which animal they are sourced from. Wool comes from sheep (Dorset, Lincoln, Merino, etc.) whereby Hair comes from additional animals like goats (mohair, cashmere), rabbits (angora) and alpacas (alpaca).

How can I determine wool’s quality?

Apart from numerous types of breeds and animals, multiple things decide the quality of hair and wool. Hair and wool are both graded upon their properties like staple length, strength, (fiber length), fineness, as well as defects and consistency.

Usually, the initial shear from any mammal is the softest and is considered the most valuable because one part remains uncut. After the animal has been sheared, its staples are spun into various kinds of yarn usually separated as combed (worsted) and carded (woolen). Hair and wool are oftentimes combined with additional fibers (man-made or natural) to lower price or impart additional qualities, for instance, inside a sweater to improve its durability, its elasticity, as well as to assist it in keeping its shape. It is called an ‘intimate blend’ as the individual traits are lost to the blend, as with a jumper from an intimate blend that has 20 percent nylon will probably lack some of the properties of a 100 percent woolen jumper, such as moisture wicking, warmth, etc.

There are several different sheep breeds utilized in wool production and their fibers will range from around 10 to 50 microns in diameter, as well as 1.5” to 4.5” in length. Variety of breeds are available in different sizes and shapes, and reside in various climates and countries, that in conjunction with health, diet, and age, affect their fleece’s quality.

How should I store wool?

Since wool does not trap odors, garments that are designed from wool do not have to be washed as often as garments that are designed from additional fibers. Instead, a spot-clean or good airing out might suffice. Keep in mind, wool is a durable fabric; therefore, with the right storage and care they should last a lifetime.

I recommend storing socks flat. Balling up socks may distort their shape.

Use boxes or plastic bags for long-term storage. They’re better at keeping your garments in good shape, but, they do not permit them to breathe. Therefore, if the wool is in storage for one or more years, be certain that you air it out. Including some cedar, while they are in storage also can help to keep moths and additional pests which may otherwise harm the wool, out. Long-term storage isn’t required if you keep using the wool socks all throughout the year.

Final Thoughts

Here is where I got a lot of my information.

References:

Wikipedia: Merino wool

Wikihow: How to Wash Wool

In recent years, as textile engineering has moved beyond those scratchy wool socks Grandmother once knit you into technical knits which guarantee not only warmth, yet have performance boosts virtually built in. There are tons of options, and it is better to narrow them down by what you will wear them for, whether it is remaining warm in a cool climate, running, or hiking. Additional considerations involve whether you are on a budget, searching for an investment or merely searching for a pair designed out of high-grade merino wool.

As it’ll come to keeping your feet dry and warm there’s really nothing better than wool socks. There are several synthetic materials utilized to make socks, yet nothing actually compares with wool.

If you have not experienced the magic of dressing in wool socks in the winter, now’s the time to change all that.

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