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Alpaca Thermal Properties

Much of today's high-end winter apparel for winter sports, such as hiking, camping, hunting etc. is made with synthetic fibers that have semi-hollow cores. That's because hollow core fiber weighs less than the same diameter of solid core fiber, such as wool. Because air is trapped in the core, the fabric warms up very quickly. As a result, outdoors people know that clothing made from semi-hollow core fiber is light weight and much warmer than the solid core equivalents.

Alpaca fiber is a natural semi-hollow with a wonderful fineness that outmatches many of the micro-fiber synthetics. Unlike synthetically engineered micro-fiber, alpaca fiber production is gentle to the environment and is a sustainable process. Because alpacas are shorn once a year, no animal is killed to collect its fleece (such as in goose down), and alpaca manure is a valuable fertilizer by-product that can enrich the soil.

Moisture Wicking

Much of today's high-end thermal clothing also boasts moisture wicking properties. Wicking and absorbing moisture are two different things. Absorbing moisture is what a sponge does. It keeps taking in moisture until it becomes saturated and the whole sponge feels wet. Wicking is when the fabric transports moisture away from its source to the outside of a fabric where it is able to evaporate. Wool and cotton are very absorbent but do not have very good wicking properties, which is why many people complain that their feet sweat or feel wet wool or cotton socks. Alpaca on the other hand, has low moisture absorbency with great wicking properties resulting in better comfort and warmth. Alpaca socks will keep your feet much, much warmer in winter than wool socks.

Alpaca Fiber is Hypoallergenic

Unlike wool, alpaca fleece contains no lanolin, and requires no chemical-scouring agents during processing to remove fatty lanolin. This, combined with its natural hypoallergenic properties and softness, makes alpaca clothing comfortable, even for sensitive skin. The softness of alpaca over wool of the same micron count is due to a scale height of 0.4 micron for Alpaca versus 0.8 micron for wool. If you compare an alpaca fiber to a wool fiber under a microscope, you will find the surface of the alpaca fiber will be smooth where the wool fiber will appear to have scales. The lower scale height creates a smoother, slippery feel with a less scratchy surface. Alpaca has a much less prickle factor than merino wool of the same fineness due to the flatter scales on the alpaca fiber. Many people who cannot wear wool can wear alpaca clothing in comfort.

This page was last updated on June 10, 2009.

Able Oaks Ranch 6167 FM1857 S. Rusk TX 75785 | 903-530-1009