Why Is Alpaca Wool Better Than Synthetics For Sports?

Published November 22, 2021

You might be thinking: “My functional synthetic clothing works great so why should I wear alpaca wool?” We hear you, but we are here to tell you that alpaca wool brings more benefits than you could imagine.

  • Technical Benefits: Alpaca Wool vs Synthetics
  • 1. Moisture Wicking
  • 2. Breathability
  • 3. Quick Drying Time
  • 4. Sustainability
  • When Is It Better To Choose Synthetics Over Natural Fibers?

Technical Benefits: Alpaca Wool vs Synthetics

1. Moisture Wicking

Any garment worn while performing a strenuous activity or sport should be designed to remove excess moisture from your body. Wicking is important for exercise clothing because it helps regulate your temperature and avoids the buildup of unpleasant sweat.

Natural alpaca wool is one of the best wicking materials available. This means in warm weather you won’t get as sweaty and in colder weather the sweat is quickly removed from your body, helping you stay warm.

Some very thin synthetic materials can also have moisture-wicking properties but they don't combine all of the benefits like wool does.

Man and woman hiking in the mountains wearing alpaca wool outdoor clothes

2. Breathability

While this may sound similar to the previous point, it is a completely separate benefit. Wicking removes moisture from between your skin and the garment. Breathability then allows that moisture to escape the garment. Layering breathable clothing will help you retain heat while allowing excess moisture to evaporate. That is why wool, especially alpaca, is one of the best materials for workout clothes.

Synthetic materials are not nearly as breathable as alpaca wool, which can cause sweat accumulation. In the short term this can create odor buildup, and in the long term you will have to wash your garment more frequently shortening its life span.

3. Quick Drying Time

We have all been caught out in a sudden downpour. It’s bound to happen if you spend a lot of time outdoors. However, by using clothing made with natural fibers you don’t have to spend hours hiking in wet clothes.

Alpaca wool will only absorb about 10% of its weight in water, which makes it dry much faster than synthetic clothing. On top of that, natural fibers retain their insulating values better than synthetic materials when wet. Afterall, that is why people tell you to never let your synthetic down jacket get wet.

Synthetic materials take longer to dry because they absorb more moisture. If you get caught in a downpour in a synthetic mid layer, you will have to spend the next few hours hiking in wet clothes.

Woman in the rain wearing a quick drying alpaca wool tank top

4. Sustainability

In this day and age, you can’t turn a blind eye to the production process used to make your workout clothes. Synthetic materials are usually made out of byproducts of petroleum, and don’t biodegrade well, if at all. They also can’t be recycled very easily which means they have a high impact on our environment.

Comparatively natural fibers can be farmed in a non-intensive way, which makes their environmental footprint incredibly low. Once your garment has worn out, you are then able to recycle the material to create new clothing, preventing the material from entering landfill.

When Is It Better To Choose Synthetics Over Natural Fibers?

We know we’ve just preached about the benefits of natural fiber clothing, but we can also appreciate that some situations call for synthetic clothing.

Woman in the mountains holding a snowboard and wearing a synthetic waterproof jacket for sports

Synthetics can be a good choice as an outer layer, particularly those designed to resist the elements. A good hard-shell jacket made out of synthetic materials will be wind resistant and rain proof, keeping you warm and dry on the wildest of days. This is especially needed in winter for skiing and snowboarding.

Synthetic materials also can be useful in activities such as rock climbing, where fiber endurance and strenght play an important role, as a frequent friction against the rocks occurs, causing damage in the fiber.

So there you have it, alpaca wool vs synthetic fibers. Synthetic materials excel when used as outer layers, but for anything else why not consider sustainably made alpaca wool clothing.

Not All Natural Fibers are Suitable

Some natural fibers, like cotton, are not very well suited for use as functional clothing. Cotton is highly absorbent meaning it will trap sweat between you and your outer layers. This can get uncomfortable very quickly and cause the buildup of odor

Natural fibers can also be produced in unsustainable ways, which is why you have to be mindful of where your fibers are coming from. Cotton that is grown on intensive farms and commercial wool production can both have significant negative impacts on the environment. Luckily the alpaca wool used in our garments is not intensively farmed minimizing its environmental impact. This means you can wear our products knowing that you aren’t hurting the environment. 

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