One of the most important considerations when preparing for a camping or hiking trip is what you’re going to wear, and how you’re going to keep warm overnight.
One of the lesser known materials that is exceptionally good for keeping you warm outdoors is alpaca wool.
That’s right. Those curious looking animals that most people mistake for llamas provide high-quality wool.
Their wool is actually a lustrous, silky, soft, wool. Warmer than sheep’s wool, softer, naturally hypoallergenic, and much more luxurious.
The goal of this article is to bring awareness to the marvelous uses of alpaca wool. So read on for some of the benefits of alpaca wool in the outdoors in more detail and how this wool stacks up against the most common material choices.
Types of Materials and Fabrics Commonly used Outdoors
Wool – Hard to beat the feel and ability to retain the warmth of sheep’s wool. The downsides are it’s heavier than some other materials, and it absorbs moisture. But still a popular choice for sleeping bags and layers of clothing.
Down – There a few materials softer and warmer than fluffy goose feathers and some down sleeping bags are incredibly comfortable. Moisture is a huge problem though, it’s almost impossible to dry out a soggy down sleeping bag or clothing outdoors.
Cotton – Not good at wicking away moisture, cotton often becomes damp just from high humidity and is uncomfortable when damp. Being lightweight and soft to the touch it’s commonly used for outdoors clothing.
Polypropylene – Great for wet conditions as it’s waterproof. You’ll commonly see athletic clothing made from this material for these reasons, it’s comfortable too but not ideal for keeping you warm.
Polyester – A man-made material that’s great for keeping you warm in cold and windy conditions. It’s lightweight and easy to take camping, it’s wicks away moisture so it’s great for jackets.
Then there is alpaca wool….
Although not commonly used, largely due to the cost, alpaca wool combines all the best features of the above materials and has very few drawbacks.
Here is a closer look at some of the benefits of alpaca wool in the outdoors:
It’s Warmer Than Sheep’s Wool
Alpaca’s wool is heavily medullated when compared to some other wool and materials. This means that the fibers of alpaca wool are hollow in the center enabling the wool to hold warmth better than other wool and materials.
Being soft, and light, this makes alpaca wool an excellent choice for outdoors clothing. If you’re generating heat, it’s going to hold the heat for longer while not needing to be thicker and heavier.
Allergies to wool and being irritated by the feel is not uncommon. There are few things worse than wearing or sleeping on a nice, soft, woolen time, only to find the next day you have an itchy rash.
Alpaca wool is naturally hypoallergenic. It doesn’t have lanolin like sheep’s wool which is often the culprit for allergic reactions. Making it an easy choice for those concerned about allergies.
It’s Water Resistant
If you use wool bedding or clothes to keep warm you’ll know what a nightmare it is if it gets wet. Wool becomes heavy, soggy, uncomfortable, and takes ages to dry out.
Alpaca wool does get wet, but it wicks away a lot more surface moisture and takes a lot longer to soak through. The added warmth adds an extra layer of moisture protection too.
It’s Lighter Than Sheep’s Wool
As mentioned earlier, the wool has a unique hollow design that helps keep the warmth in, as well as making alpaca wool lighter and stronger than sheep’s wool.
It has an interesting feel when you first lay hands on it. It looks and feels very misleading, it’s a lot stronger and lighter than you would expect.
Now is a good time to treat yourself! Why not pick up an alpaca wool sleeping bag or duvet, lined jacket, or blanket for your next overnight trip outdoors.
You’ll be warm, comfortable, and fall in love with the soft feel. It’s a durable material too if you look after alpaca wool products they’ll last a lifetime.