What Is a Micron In Wool Clothing?

Published March 21, 2019 - Edited December 14, 2021

Wool clothing is usually classified by microns (μm). If you wonder what exactly it means and how it defines the fiber quality and price, let's find out with us.

What is a micron in wool?

Micron is a small measuring unit. One micron is equal to one millionth of a meter. This measuring unit is used to measure the diameter of wool fibres. This means the higher the micron, the thicker the diameter of the fiber.

What do different diameters mean?

  • Human hair: 50-100 microns
  • Royal alpaca wool: 18-18.5 microns
  • Merino wool: 20-23 microns 
  • Cashmere: 14-16 microns

In the textile industry, microns of 20 and above are usually used for outer layer clothes such as wool sweaters, jumpers, scarves, or wool blankets. However, this does not mean that fibers below 20 microns cannot be used for outer layers.

You can find alpaca wool jumpers and merino wool sweaters of less than 20 microns. Because of the way the garment is knitted, the garment can still provide a great amount of warmth while being naturally lightweight.

Typically, fibers of 20 microns and below are used for garments next to skin, such as wool base layers, super base layers, underwear, socks, tank tops, etc.

What is the difference in touch?

Finer wool of alpaca or merino means a softer touch and less itchiness. Usually the thicker the micron, the more durable and warmer the wool fleece is.

However, as mentioned earlier, the type of knitting the garment is made of can make the garment warmer, lighter and more durable.

Arms of Andes mid layers and base layers are made from fibers with the diameter of 18 microns, and have an interlock knit, providing warmth and durability while being lightweight.

Man hiking outdoors in winter, walking through snow and using synthetic outdoor equipment

What is the difference in price?

The lower the micron, the finer and softer the wool. This means that finer wool is higher in price. Producing the yarn and cloth of fine wool also takes more time which also adds to its price.

Wool fibers that are thicker in microns are more widespread on the market. Thicker fibers are usually more itchy and require less production time, which means their cost is lower.

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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