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If you’ve been with us for a while or researched cold-weather hiking clothing, you have likely heard the term “cotton is rotten”. There’s a reason we warn against using cotton materials when dressing your family for cold-weather adventures. It is one of the least moisture-wicking materials out there. That means that whenever you sweat or get the material wet, it holds onto that moisture for dear life. This can be dangerous when adventuring in chilly weather since it can quickly chill your skin and lower your body temperature.

There are far better alternatives, such as synthetics (like polyester) and wool. By far our favorite option for base layers (the most important layer when dressing for cold weather) is Merino wool. It can be an investment, but the benefits are so worth picking up a set or two of this amazing material for everyone in your family. Read on to discover what exactly Merino wool is along with the benefits of this super-powered material.

What is Merino Wool?

If you have ever owned a traditional wool sweater or base layer, you know that while they are super warm,  they also tend to be incredibly itchy against the skin. Not to mention they cause some impressive static, especially when coupled with dry winter air. Wool also tends to be bulky and less packable compared to other fabrics. Do we really have to sacrifice comfort to stay warm?

Thankfully, some innovative sheep farmers have come to our rescue! Merino wool is an incredible material that comes from a specific breed of sheep (aptly named “Merino Sheep”). These sheep were selectively bred to produce the smoothest and finest fibers of wool, producing soft, durable wool without sacrificing warmth. The benefits of Merino wool don’t stop at comfort. Read on to find out why we aren’t “sheepish” about promoting this super-material.


Benefits of Merino Wool

Merino Wool is so much more than just an excellent choice for base layers! Check out these seven benefits of choosing Merino wool clothing for all of your outdoor adventures, regardless of the season.

Temperature Regulation

While you may know that Merino wool does an excellent job of keeping you warm in cold weather by providing insulation to trap heat and release moisture, did you know it can also keep you cool in warm weather? That’s right, this magical material can also keep you cool and dry in warmer weather by wicking away sweat and allowing it to evaporate. As it evaporates, it releases heat and cools the air between your skin and clothing.

Regulating temperature is especially important for our littlest adventurers. Babies can’t regulate their temperature efficiently yet, so the base layer is so important in both cold and warm environments. One of our favorite Merino wool options for babies and toddlers is the adventure onesie from Iksplor. It has baby-friendly features such as a two-way zipper for easy diaper changes and hand mitts to protect against sun and moisture. It’s also super soft, durable, and machine washable. You can use it as a base layer in the winter or as sun-protective adventure gear in the summer.


Moisture Wicking

This is incredibly important, especially in the winter. When you start working up a sweat on chilly adventures, many fabrics (especially cotton) trap that moisture right next to your skin. This then cools you down quickly in cold temperatures, leaving you shivering and uncomfortable. Merino wool does the opposite. It absorbs moisture away from the body and brings it to the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate.

Provides UV Protection

That’s right, Merino wool not only regulates your temperature, it also blocks harmful radiation from the sun. Anyone who has ever attempted to chase a small child with a tube or spray of sunscreen knows that this is a huge benefit! You will see a range of UPF ratings depending on the manufacturer, but they generally range from UPF 20 up to UPF 50+.


One of the things I love most about our Merino wool items is that I don’t have to wash them as often, even when we all get hot and sweaty. That’s because the natural lanolin found in the wool repels odor-causing bacteria. This helps prevent it from becoming smelly after just one use. We simply hang our items to dry if needed and they are good to go for the next adventure.


A material that is also gentle on Mother Nature? Yes, please! Unlike synthetics and cotton, Merino wool is fully biodegradable. It can completely break down in as little as six months of being in the ground. That’s because it’s a natural material made mainly of grass, water, fresh air, and maybe a little dose of sheep magic.

Easy to Take Care of

Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, you won’t have to worry about washing Merino wool frequently. When you do need to freshen it up, the majority of Merino wool products are machine washable. Simply wash it on a gentle or wool cycle and lay it flat or hang it up to dry (and they dry super-fast!). Due to its elastic properties, this material tends to retain its shape, so you won’t have to worry about it stretching out after each use. This also makes it fairly wrinkle-resistant, so it’s ready to wear right away.

Oh So Soft

I still remember a wool sweater that my mother insisted I wear as a child that made me itch like crazy. I had to wear a turtle neck underneath just so it didn’t touch my skin. Thankfully, Merino wool has all the benefits without the itch. Thanks to its ultra-fine fibers, Merino wool is super soft instead of prickly like other wool options. That’s what makes it so great as a base layer (especially for our little ones!).

It’s easy to see why we love Merino wool so much. Thankfully, companies like Iksplor are making it easier than ever to find clothing options for everyone in your family, from a tiny preemie baby to a nursing mama (yes, they have an ACTUAL Merino wool nursing base layer top!). Where will your Merino wool take you?





Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, Hike it Baby is a growing community of 270,000 families and over 400 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information, as well as outdoor engagement events, can be found at, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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