Whenever you think about alpaca clothing, you probably think of lovely soft scarves and ponchos, more suitable for a city break than a trip to the mountains. But a closer look on 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 function 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 within the cold and funky 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 assist with thermal regulation throughout a range of temperatures. Additionally, the medullated cores imply that alpaca wool is extra cozy and extra cool!
Natural odour resistance and antibacterial properties. Synthetic fibres have a status for being stinky and producers have come up with treatments to resolve that, but alpaca wool doesn’t want any assist in this department. It repels bacteria naturally, that means it is odour-free even after heavy use. Since you 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 out of your skin and move it outwards, that means you’ll really feel dry and contemporary even after a sizzling, steep climb. When it does get wet, alpaca wool dries quicker than every other natural fibre.
Light but highly durable. Alpaca fibres have high tensile strength and are quite stretchy, so they're less likely to break during production or when knitted into your alpaca wool base layer. The "semi-hollow" structure of alpaca additionally makes it extra light, so alpaca wool mid layers are highly packable and excellent for keeping you warm around camp or as an additional layer on the airplane.
Environmentally friendly. Alpacas thrive when roaming semi-free (they are usually 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 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 have a tendency to use widespread dung piles, making it really easy to collect!
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