by Stephen Jabaut
Many people think Merino wool is reserved for the cold places of the word: where the sleet falls and the frigid cliffs loom over ice climbers, where the blizzards bring hail and numb the toes of fishermen on frozen lakes, where biting winter winds nip at the noses and ears of of backcountry skiers and chill bone to the core. But merino wool, though very good for all of those things, is also one of the most versatile fabrics out there. I’m here to tell you another place you might have overlooked to sport your new merino clothing: the boat.
As a working Sail Boat Captain in Los Angeles, I am subjected to the elements in the land of the Sun on a daily basis. Hypothermia is not a cross that I have to bear, and yet, I still reach for my merino shirts when going out on the water. Let me lay it out for you.
Merino wool is more than just insulating, it is temperature regulating. Meaning that if it is hot, and you begin to sweat, the fabric will breathe and wick away any moisture, leaving you feeling naturally cooled. Speaking of moisture, when you’re on a boat, you might be exposed to sea spray and get wet. The quick drying effects of this natural fiber keep you regulated. And if you, God forbid, go overboard, and the water is on the colder side (like it is in Southern California), the fact that wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet, will help prevent hypothermia and buy you more time in the water. Furthermore, the fabric has a natural SPF which can be helpful on a boat in the desert sun where the ocean effectively acts as a giant reflector for UV light.
In my mind, Merino Wool is the ultimate versatile armor for going out in to the wilderness. Whether that is in the mountains, the deserts, and yes, even the sea. I strongly encourage you to give it a try on your next boating adventure.