What is merino wool? Our guide to the smart fabric

Merino sheep on a green meadow

Especially when it comes to the bottom layer of clothing, it is important to be optimally dressed here. High functionality is particularly important for these garments, so that you always feel comfortable even during sweaty activities. We would like to recommend one fabric in particular: Merino. In this article we explain how merino wool is obtained and why the fabric is so good!

Where does merino wool come from?

Originally, the Merino sheep comes from North Africa. The Spanish then discovered the high economic importance of the fine wool sheep breed in the High Middle Ages. European settlers finally introduced the Merino sheep to Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century.

Today, the majority of Merino sheep live in Australia: 88% of Merino wool comes from here. New Zealand is the second largest supplier. In addition, some merino sheep live in South Africa and South America, specifically Uruguay and Patagonia.

Merino sheep do not lose their wool coat by themselves and therefore have to be sheared regularly, maximum twice a year . A sheep sheds about two to four kilograms of washed wool per year - not the top coat, but the particularly soft hairs of the coat. Since the fur is always growing back, merino is a 100% sustainable raw material. Pure wool is also biodegradable - after only three months.

Shepherd with his flock

What is special about merino wool? All properties at a glance

With merino wool, nature has created a perfect fabric almost by itself. Due to its high functionality and quality, it is especially popular with fans of any outdoor sports - and rightly so. But what is actually the advantage of merino wool? We present you all the properties of the special virgin wool!

Super soft!

What is the difference between wool and merino wool? Merino fibers are only about half as thick as those of conventional sheep's wool and therefore super soft! That's also why merino wool doesn't scratch: thicker wool fibers hit the skin and don't curl, but prick. Merino wool is simply too fine and thin for that. Good for you: Clothing made of merino is soft enough to be worn directly on the skin and thus offer you a high level of comfort.

Warms and cools at the same time

Merino sheep live under extreme temperature fluctuations, at around 30°C in summer and -10°C in winter. Their coat is adapted and conditioned to warm in winter and cool in summer. How so?

Because the wool is heavily crimped and the fibers therefore lie closely together, air pockets are created. The air traps body heat and thus warms you in winter!

And why does wool cool in summer? Wool can absorb about a third of its own weight in moisture - without feeling wet. When it's warm outside, the fiber dries quickly and the evaporative cooling keeps your skin pleasantly cool.

Merino sheep flock

Breathable and moisture-regulating

Due to the hollow nature of the fiber, it can absorb about a third of its own weight in moisture. At the same time, however, the surface remains dry, because the moisture migrates into the core of the fiber - which is why you won't freeze even after sweaty activities. And: Merino dries significantly faster than cotton. In addition, merino is incredibly breathable, so you always stay well ventilated.


Even if you sweat a lot, clothing made of merino wool does not smell unpleasant. Sweat is actually odorless and only starts to smell when bacteria decompose it. Since merino wool has a scaly surface, similar to roof tiles, it's hard for bacteria to take hold, unlike smooth synthetic fibers. In addition, merino has an antibacterial effect because the fibers contain the protein keratin, which breaks down bacteria. What's more, much like it does with moisture, the fiber traps odor molecules and your nose won't notice them as much.


Merino wool is insanely stretchy and will find its way back to its original shape even when stretched 20%. Merino is also naturally flame resistant, which is why firefighter and police uniforms are often made of the wool. Also the typical electrostatic charge as with synthetic materials does not exist with Merino. In addition, you enjoy a natural UV protection when wearing - depending on the material density even up to 50!

Easy care and wrinkle-free

With so many great properties, must it be complicated to care for the clothing? No! You can easily put Merino in the washing machine, but we recommend a gentle cycle. It's best to use a delicate or wool detergent without enzymes and to do without a fabric softener and the dryer. It is enough to simply hang the laundry, because merino is wrinkle-free.

Mulesing? No thanks!

Mulesing is a procedure in which the lambs have their skin and around the tail cut out. This painful procedure is used to prevent infestation of fly maggots in the skin around the anus. Does it have to be done? No! The affected region of the sheep can simply be shorn more often, the husbandry is thus more costly and the merino wool therefore more expensive, but in this way no animals have to suffer.

When buying merino products, you should therefore look for the seal "Mulesing free". With our new filter, you can explicitly filter for sustainable products in the online store and thus pick out products that are made with mulesing-free wool.

Curious about what other seals there are and what we look out for?

Sustainability at Sport Bittl

Sheep is shorn by hand

Merino in blended fabric

Especially with baselayers you will find products that consist of 100% merino wool - here the fabric lies directly on the skin and can thus fully unleash its functional properties! But also in combination with other materials merino makes a great figure.

Especially scratch-sensitive people should reach for a material mix with synthetic fibers, as the fabric is even more pleasant on the skin. It also dries even faster. A combination with natural fibers such as silk or viscose not only feels mega, but makes the clothes even more stable. The tensile strength and stretch is increased especially in combination with fabrics like Lycra, polyester and spandex.

Discover merino clothing