Moisture Management | Merino Wool

Photomontage Left image Stock photo. A grey t-shirt with sweat stains under sleeves and through the torso. Copyright: mjdphotography / 123RF Stock Photo Right Image A participant of an Adventure Race in Patagonia hikes up a mountain in full alpine gear. He is wearing an Original Buff® as beanie. You can see sweat on his face but the Buff® looks dry. © Unknown. Released by Original Buff S.A for the promotion of Buff® products.

Cotton is horrible when wet. It gets heavy, feels damp and clings. Add cold weather, and your well-being goes south.

Merino Wool fabrics naturally manage moisture. It’s the way the wool prevents the sheep from catching a cold when wet.

What exactly is Moisture Management?

It’s the ability of a fabric to draw moisture away from the skin and distribute it evenly. The emphasis is on evenly. The more even it is, the less the skin feels it.

The finer the Wool, the better the effect.
Australian Merino Wool is the finest and softest in the world.
That’s why outdoor enthusiasts love it and manufacturers prefer it.

It gets better: Merino Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and still feel dry.

Limitations

Once the fabric is completely soaked in water, it loses its ability.

The good news is that you just have to squeeze the water out. Then it will resume wicking the rest and return to feeling comfortable.

How to easily check other fabrics for MM

Test it

The easiest is to take an eyedropper with water and put one drop on the fabric. Just see how the fabric sucks up the drop and how it is spread across the fabric. Compare it to your Buff® Merino, and you get a good feeling about what that fabric will do to your skin.

Have a close look

How thick do the filaments of the fabric look. Not the yarn itself. The little strands that make up the yarn.

If you are in a shop that stocks quality merino wool products, you should be able to compare different fabrics. The finer the strands are, the better the fabric will manage moisture.

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Only Non-Toxic and Non-Itchy Ingredients – Oekotex Certified

The most dangerous way for a toxin to enter the body is not through the digestive system, but through the skin

A toddler wearing a Baby Buff® as a face mask. The toddler looks happy. Source: buff.eu
A Buff® passes the most stringent test for fabrics. Free of anything irritating or harmful for babies.

Did you know that fabric ingredients are grouped into toxic or safe and non-itchy?

The difference in costs is huge.

This article shows you how to spot the safe products and why Buff® headwear ticks the right boxes

What makes you itch?

There are 2 main reasons for fabrics itching.

The first is bacteria. Call it bad hygiene or simply fabrics that make you sweat and breed bacteria (cheap polyester beanie hat for example).

The second is toxic and irritating ingredients in making the fabric.

There are ingredients available that can not only make you itch but also severely impact your health.
These ingredients are on a list and banned in most 1st world countries.

How safe are we in Australia?

Not at all, unfortunately.

Australia has no tests or regulations regarding safe textile ingredients. You can import into Australia whatever you like.

This leads to Australia being the only 1st world country supplied with 3rd world quality clothing.
Whenever we mentioned in China that we are from Australia and want headwear that passes the Oekotex test, we heard something like, “Why do you want to waste money on Oekotex. You are from Australia. You do not need this …”.
We were quite shocked at first but got used to hearing it all the time.

Here is a nice article from Choice that goes into more detail
https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/everyday-shopping/clothing/articles/chemicals-in-clothing
My favourite quote is

Products that are made in China for the Australian market could not even be sent back to China, as many of them would not meet the Chinese product safety standards but are acceptable here.

How do you find safe and non-itchy clothing in Australia?

You look for the Oekotex® certificate.

Oekotex® is a worldwide testing standard for classifying the safety of clothing.

Just look out for something like the logo below. If you spend more money to make your product safe, you will have it tested. If you can’t find it, assume the worst.
Especially if it’s our beloved “The same, just cheaper…” products.

The logo of the Oekotex® 100 certification for babies (class1). Source: buff.eu
The logo of the Oekotex® 100 certification for babies (class1)

You can always go to the AITEX website and enter the test number. That will give you all the details of the test.

So what are Buff® tested to?

The more intensive the skin contact of a product and the more sensitive the skin, the stricter the human-ecological requirements that need to be complied with.

All adult products are rated to class 2. This is the class for adults close to the skin clothing (underwear, socks, headwear,…)

All baby products are rated to class 1. The most stringent class.

You can find the logo of the Oekotex® 100 certification on the back of the Original Buff® packaging. Source: buff.eu
The logo of the Oekotex® Certification on the Original Buff®

Sources

UV/Sun Protection

Photomontage: Left image Cutout of a man with a severely sunburned face. © Jonny Hunter, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnyhunter/3565036940/in/photostream/ Right image A flyfisher proudly displaying his catch. He is standing waist deep in salt water and he is wearing a High Uv Buff® as face mask. © Pat Ford
Ouch. That must hurt. Skin cancer aware? The BUFF® fabrics protect. (Jonny Butler / Pat Ford)

Sunburns hurt. Skin cancer can kill.

The Original EcoStretch and the Coolnet UV fabric give you UPF50 excellent protection (98% UV/Sun protection).

Scan of a UPF report issued by ARPANSA
Skin Cancer aware? If it’s not rated it will not protect you.

This is an example of a UPF report. It was performed by the founders of the UPF rating ARPANSA. Nowadays both, Original EcoStretch and CoolnetUV, fabrics are constantly monitored for their UPF rating at the factory. The testing company is Aitext Textile Research Insitute.

BUFF® Original EcoStretch and CoolnetUV multifunctional headwear come with a label that clearly states the standard (AS/NZS 4399:1996), the UPF Rating and the testing laboratory.

Beware of UPF Claims without reference to the test!

We see a lot of tubular headwear that advertises sun protection claims but has no labels and no mentioning of the test standard. Those claims are bogus. Why?

A thin fabric without UPF rating cannot protect you from skin cancer.

For example, a T-shirt is only around UPF 6. That’s because it just filters out enough UVB to stop a sunburn. It will not stop you from getting skin cancer because it doesn’t filter out UVA enough.

UVA is harder to filter and it goes deep into your skin so the damage is not visible.

That’s where special dyes and other ingredients enter the game that absorb both UVA and UVB satisfactory. This function can only be tested and proven in a laboratory.

That’s why sun protective clothing is more expensive than non-protective clothing.

So if you see a tube with a UV protection claim and it doesn’t clearly state the UPF rating with the testing standard and the testing laboratory do yourself a favour and walk away.

Most Popular Use

Fishing

Fly fisher holding a catch in the flats. He is wearing a High Uv Buff® as face mask. The cooling effect makes the face mask comfortable. © Pat Ford http://www.patfordphotos.com/. Licenced by Original Buff S.A for the promotion of the High Uv Buff®
Intense sun and heat. The BUFF® CoolnetUv fabric cools to make your sun protection comfortable (Pat Ford)

The most popular application so far for sun protection. A face mask that you can wear in the heat.
All fishing professionals now wear the BUFF® CoolnetUV for this one reason: Replace sunscreen and still be skin cancer protected.

In the Snow

A man wearing a High Uv Buff® as face mask in the snow. He is in a ski resort. © unknown
Forgot your sunscreen? A BUFF® Original EcoStretch helps you out.

How often did you forget your sunscreen? I have tons of times.

  • Wear it as a face mask and you’re protected
  • Not sweating – It eases the biting wind

Travel

Halong Bay in Vietnam as seen from a kayak. The kayaker in front is wearing a High Uv Buff® as legionnaire style cap. Submitted to us as part of a testimonial. Copyright unknown
Long sun exposure during a great adventure. Good to have a protective and cooling BUFF® CoolnetUV as legionnaire cap with you.

You’re travelling and you have this opportunity to go on a tour. No cloud in the sky and of course you didn’t bring some specialized headgear with you. The BUFF® CoolnetUV tube as legionnaire style cap will give you protection.

Endurance Sports

A participant of the Marathon Des Sables running through the desert. He is wearing a custom made High Uv Buff® as face mask. Copyright is unknown. Distributed by Original Buff® S.A. for the promotion of Buff® products
Sunscreen sweating out and no time to replace. The BUFF® CoolnetUV protects. The fabric cools enough to wear in a desert.

Running events in the sun are a prime example. You’re sweating throughout the day and no sunscreen would work for long. You also don’t have any time to constantly apply sunscreen.

Events like the Marathon des Sables have their custom made BUFF® CoolnetUV for their participants. It’s not perfect but it’s better than burning to crisps.

Limitations

They are thin fabrics so stretching them too much or wearing them thin over several years reduces the protection.

Sources

ARPANSA Resource Guide for UV Protective Products

Wikipedia – Ultraviolet

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