Merinos are actually a type of sheep that live in the rugged highlands of New Zealand. The fibers of their fleece are thinner and softer, more insulating and more breathable than the wool fibers of other breeds of sheep. One reason it is softer is because the scales which make up the fiber are smaller helping a garment to be antimicrobial, because bacteria cannot latch on to the rough surface.
There is a place for both synthetic and merino fibers for athletics. Synthetic materials are made from petrochemicals, or recycled plastic materials. These materials, while wicking moisture, do so through the spaces in between the threads. Wool on the other hand is a natural, sustainable fiber, and not only does it “breathe” through the spaces in between the threads, but through the fiber as well. For those who prefer the synthetic fibers you may be experiencing a stink after several wearings. A great detergent called “Sportwash” will come to your rescue.
Wool you can be used multiple times without the synthetic stink. Although, most people will experience a wet animal smell after multiple uses without washing. Wool can absorb up to 1/3 its weight in moisture without losing its thermal properties. It regulates heat naturally, since by nature it regulates an animal’s body heat living in temperatures below freezing in Winter to 80+ in the Summer.