Whenever you think about alpaca clothing, you probably think of gorgeous soft scarves and ponchos, more suitable for a city break than a visit to the mountains. But a closer look at the properties of alpaca wool shows that it is one of the highest performing fibres around. Like merino wool, alpaca is made of keratin protein fibres, which have been shown to perform 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 offers it an additional performance boost.
The key benefits of alpaca wool
Alpaca keeps you warm in 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 extra cozy and additional cool!
Natural odour resistance and antibacterial properties. Synthetic fibres have a status for being stinky and manufacturers have come up with treatments to resolve that, but alpaca wool doesn’t want any assist in this department. It repels bacteria naturally, which means it is odour-free even after heavy use. Since you possibly can wear alpaca for longer, one alpaca wool shirt can replace two or three artificial or cotton ones.
Alpaca wool is breathable and dries quickly. Alpaca wool is ideal as a sweat-wicking layer as the fibres take up sweat from your skin and move it outwards, that means you’ll feel dry and fresh even after a hot, steep climb. When it does get wet, alpaca wool dries quicker than any 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 perfect for keeping you warm around camp or as an extra layer on the airplane.
Environmentally friendly. Alpacas thrive when roaming semi-free (they are normally corralled at night time for safety) at high altitudes of their natural habitat: the Peruvian Andes mountains. Alpaca wool is a renewable fibre as it grows back yearly without a lot outside influence and it biodegrades when thrown away. As a bonus, alpaca dung is used by farmers as fertiliser and cooking fuel; conveniently alpacas have a tendency to use frequent dung piles, making it really straightforward to gather!
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