Cotton VS Merino Wool For Hiking: Which One To Choose

Cotton vs Merino Wool For Hiking Which One To Choose

To have fun during a hiking trip, you have to feel pleasant in your outfit. Otherwise, it will quickly turn into something close to a nightmare, as all it needs is one wet t-shirt. In this article, we’ll compare cotton vs merino wool to find out which one is a better choice for you.

Cotton As Material

Pros Of Cotton

Cotton is one of the most popular choices among hikers and there are a few reasons for that:

  • Cotton is affordable
  • Cotton is lightweight and comfortable when dry
  • It is easy to find
  • Wide choice of colors and patterns

Downsides Of Cotton

However, there are also a few good reasons why you should avoid using cotton products during your trip:

  • When it gets wet, it loses insulation abilities
  • It doesn’t remove any moisture but keeps it instead, which makes it quite unpleasant to wear
  • If the temperature drops, that moisture can lead to hypothermia
  • If you get caught by rain, it will be almost impossible to dry cotton fast enough so it becomes usable again as soon as possible

Time For Merino Wool

Merino wool is wool that comes from one of the oldest breeds of sheep called merino. This breed can be found in Australia, South Africa, Europe… What makes this wool great is the fact that it is made to help the sheep to survive low temperatures during winter, while it also prevents overheating during summer.

Merino Wool Pros

This is the list of pros that come with merino wool:

  • Merino wool is great for removing moisture away from your skin, which helps you stay dry and comfortable even when the wool itself is wet thanks to its ability to trap the air and use it as insulation. Thanks to that, you’ll stay warm all the time.
  • Merino wool can also cool you down when you sweat during hot summer camping thanks to the fact that it will remove the moisture and let it evaporate, so your body will be able to sweat easily and you’ll stay comfortable. Of course, during summer go with a thin base layer, not a thick one.
  • Merino wool doesn’t stink – literary! Even after wearing it for a few days, your clothes or your socks won’t stink but they will keep their natural smell instead.
  • Merino wool is also fire-resistant to some degree, so it is completely safe to wear near the campfire.
  • It provides great UV protection, better than most of the other materials.
  • It is 100% natural.
  • It is simple to maintain and it can be washed in a washing machine.

And What About The Comfort?

You may have heard stories about wool being itchy. It is most definitely the case with some rough types of sheep wool, but with merino, that’s not the issue. Merino wool is rather soft, even softer in merino wool vs cotton comparison, so you won’t have to worry about being uncomfortable, no matter what the weather conditions are.

Is Merino Wool Healthy For Your Skin?


The shortest and the simplest answer to this question is – yes, it is completely healthy and safe for your skin. It is possible to feel some itching when you wear it for the first time, but it shouldn’t last long. What you should avoid before your body gets used to merino wool is to press the wool against it hard to limit possible scratching and rubbing.

Merino Wool Cons

When we speak about its attributes, there are no weak spots and merino wool most definitely has all the values you’ll be looking for when you go hiking. The only problem with merino wool is its price and availability. Merino wool is not as easy to find as cotton, and it is a bit more expensive, even compared to synthetic materials with similar abilities.

Merino Products To Consider

There are many different merino wool products you can purchase, but these are the ones that will put your comfort on a camping trip to another level:

Base Layers

The base layer is an essential part of your camp clothes, and the comfort merino wool provides is incomparable with other materials. For summer you can go with a thin base layer, while during winter thick merino wool base layer will keep you warm and cozy, no matter how cold it is.


You could use base layer and leggings and pajamas, or you could look for specially made merino wool pajamas. Weather can be tricky and it may not be the easiest task to stay comfortable during nighttime thanks to possible temperature changes. If you wear something too thick during summer, you’ll sweat, then the temperature could drop and you could freeze. Due to its moisture vaporing ability, merino wool is a great choice for pajamas as it will keep you comfortable, warm, and cozy no matter the season.


Although it may sound a bit unbelievable, merino wool actually is a great choice for underwear and socks. It is not only pleasant, but it doesn’t stink, so you won’t have to worry about any unpleasant smells. And for a longer hike, it will help you stay comfortable by letting the moisture vapor.

Middle Layers

For complete comfort, you should think about a merino wool sweater or even a merino wool jacket. But, be careful because wool jackets are not the best “go-to” option if there is a great chance you’ll get wet. They do take a bit more time to dry when they get soaking wet, so if the weather forecast says it will rain, you should skip the merino wool jacket.

Hats And Gloves

Merino hats and merino gloves should be part of your winter gear whether you’ll be hiking or not. If there will be rain, you could bring thin gloves and wear waterproof ones over.

Globo Surf Overview

Cotton vs merino wool is one of the most intriguing debates in the world of camping. Merino offers comfort and coziness, while cotton is affordable and easy to get. This article has provided you some better insight, so you know all the pros and cons before you chose your clothes for the next camping trip.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!