If you’ve ever been skiing in the wrong gear, then you know it makes all the difference when you’re dry and warm. It’s no different when it comes to kids and toddler snow gear. Waterproof and breathable outer layers will make or break your kid’s snow trip (and yours too!), but the thermal layers are just as important!
Kids thermal layers can be made of different fabrics and it can be quite confusing trying to figure out what will work best. Here, we're going to try to simplify it all for you.
First of all, if you didn't already know, layering is an ingenious way of regulating one’s temperature by adding or removing a layer of clothing and works well whether you’re on or off the mountain. Simple as it is, the art of layering relies on having the right gear. Read on to find out more about wool, merino wool and synthetic fabrics in kids outdoor clothing.
Want to know more about how to keep your kids warm at the snow with layering tips? Check out our article here.
Regular Wool vs Merino Wool
There are a variety of animals such as goats, rabbits and alpacas that produce wool used for clothing. In this article, we’ll refer to wool as that coming from regular sheep, sometimes known as the ‘itchy wool’ that we are all familiar with. This type of wool has fibres that tend to be thicker, bulkier and is not always particularly comfortable against the skin. It is warm, but can also take much longer to dry when wet.
Wool, in general, has some excellent properties and safe to say, it has stood the test of time and experience.
Merino wool, on the other hand, comes specifically from merino sheep found mostly in Australia and New Zealand. It is much more delicate than the usual variety as the merino fibres are finer and silkier to touch. This is the softer version of wool that we see and love to feel in the shops.
These merino wool fibres interlock more than the thicker wool fibres, so the fabric is more durable, lightweight and traps more air within the fibre layer. With these characteristics, merino wool is also great for layering in summer. The lighter fabric combined with its ability to wick moisture away means that the clothing is more breathable and comfortable during warmer weather too.
One unique feature of wool and merino wool is their antibacterial and anti-odorant properties. This is because of the natural protective waxy coating of lanolin on the wool fibres. Lanolin is produced by the sheep’s glands and is designed to protect the wool and skin from getting wet in the rain. Lanolin also prevents odour producing bacteria from forming, which means merino wool clothing does not tend to smell. Yay for every parent of teenagers!
Layering with Wool and Merino Wool
Which is better to layer with you ask? The answer depends on what layer you’re looking at. Merino wool is favoured as a kid’s base layer as it’s super comfortable against the skin, and its lightweight nature means it is slightly more breathable and moisture-wicking than regular wool. The fact that it still keeps kids warm when it gets wet is a big winner here too! 2117 of Sweden’s Ullanger Junior Top and Pants and Reima Taival Merino Wool Set are excellent options for a kids thermal baselayer.
Regular wool, with it’s thicker insulating fibres, is popular as a sweater or a coat where the bulk works to fend off the winter chill.
Synthetic fabrics are non-natural fabrics usually made from a combination of polyester, nylon and elastane. Fleece is also an example of synthetic kids winter clothing material. These fabrics are often more durable and moisture-wicking than merino wool, yet just as comfortable. Another upside is the hydrophobic nature of synthetics – this means moisture isn’t absorbed readily, so it does not get heavy.
Synthetic materials tend to cost less than natural fabrics like wool and merino wool but still do the trick when it comes to keeping your little ones warm in winter or on the snow. On average, synthetic kids baselayers can wick roughly 7% of their weight in water before you start to feel wet. And even if you think your child might be cold the whole day, remember that they have to sit in the car, be in the lodge, get equipment on, and move around. All of this will cause them to sweat, and you have to factor that in.
Synthetic midlayers that have a microfleece lining such as Rehall Joanna Skivvy and Kilpi Wilke Skivvy can also work well in combination with a thermal singlet and waterproof outer jacket for warmer winter snow days.
You can check out these ideas for warm kids winter thermal clothing at snowkids.com.au!