For centuries, wool was a staple fibre woven to make clothing, but say the word “wool” today and most people associate it with bulky, scratchy material made into items like sweaters and mittens. Fashionistas and the well traveled alike, however, know that clothing made from Merino wool is luxuriously soft, doesn’t wrinkle and is the smart way to travel light.

What makes Merino wool different? Merino is a breed of sheep that grow super-fine wool, and this special wool has certain unique attributes that allow it to take the place of multiple other clothing items, freeing up room in your luggage. There is even a clothing brand fully dedicated to harnessing the power of Merino for travel, called Unbound Merino – so that should give you some sense, right off the bat, of how important Merino is to travelers. Let’s go over the main qualities that make Merino wool a necessity for the sensible, light traveler.

Retains Freshness and Easy to Clean 

The number one reason Merino wool is popular with savvy travelers is you need to pack fewer articles because you can wear the same items of clothing multiple times without them forming an unpleasant odour. This is especially helpful to backpackers and outdoors enthusiasts who do not have access to laundry facilities. When it comes time to clean, your Merino wool pieces can be hand washed in warm or cold water, after which they will dry quickly when hung.

Wrinkle Free 

Merino wool doesn’t really wrinkle, allowing your clothing to come out of your bag ready to wear. The fibres are naturally elastic, keeping a nice fit to the garment when worn multiple times, so you always look sharp and fresh. This is especially important for packing light, as it means you can dress your shirts up or down, saving on space.

Moisture and Temperature Regulation 

Merino wool has the ability to absorb 30 percent of its weight in moisture but feel dry to the touch. The natural lanolin on the surface of the fibre repels moisture and keeps your skin dry by drawing it away and letting it evaporate quickly regulating your body’s temperature in all climate conditions. Again, this makes packing multiple garments less necessary, meaning that you can pack lighter.

The cost of Merino wool clothing can be a tad higher than its cotton and polyester counterparts, though after the initial investment the cost per wear ends up saving you money because you will get many, many years of use from each item. The price is determined by the fact it is a natural product with the variable ability of the sheep to grow the wool, which takes six months per seasonal coat. Start-to-finish processed Merino wool ends up being a skill-intensive procedure that justifies its price tag.

Outdoor adventurers swear by the t-shirts and undergarments offered by reputable brands, but there are also on-trend dresses and pants available so you can be ready for any situation that arises. When packing, a smart traveler knows you need fewer articles because traveling light creates less stress. In addition to the above info, check out this Reddit thread, which will give you more insight into all the benefits of Merino wool.