Natural or synthetic – which is better for activewear?

so cosy merino wool handmade socks

The start of a New Year means there are resolutions to make, and many of them will be focused on improving our health and wellbeing. From preserving your mental wellbeing with regular mindfulness and meditation to honing your physical health with exercise and a balanced diet, it all counts. Taking up a new hobby is a great way to get more active in 2024 and improve those fitness levels.

Whether hiking or partaking in your favourite sport, keeping warm when exercising is important as the cooler months continue, with your choice of activewear helping you feel more comfortable and confident with every step.

With so many activewear brands to choose from, however, investing in a new kit isn’t as easy as it seems. It all starts with your choice of material, but is it better to go natural or synthetic with fibres?

A great fit guaranteed

There’s a reason why synthetic materials are traditionally used for activewear, especially when you need athletic clothing for more strenuous physical activity. Sportswear has to have a high level of resistance and be able to cope with repeated use and excessive wear. That’s where the durability and elasticity of synthetic fibres comes in handy.

Naturally performance-ready

Merino wool is considered the ultimate performance fibre, with nature’s best unlocking several plus-points for those looking to get active and stay active during the year ahead.

Merino wool in particular is breathable and naturally temperature-regulating. This means that during your summer workout sessions, your wool activewear will keep you cool even as temperatures climb. In winter, your wool activewear will also perform to increase warmth when temperatures fall. Its moisture-wicking abilities will keep you cool and comfortable too, whatever the weather. Not to mention fresh and clean as Woolmark explains:

“Merino wool helps you sweat less and smell better. Unpleasant smells during and after exercise are caused when sweat degrades. Merino wool locks away these unpleasant odour molecules, and because Merino can absorb moisture vapour, it also reduces the amount of sweat – and therefore odour – left on the body in the first place. Merino fibres lock away odour molecules which are only released upon washing, so your Merino wool clothes will remain fresher for longer.”

You can find out more about the best natural fibres for breathability here.

Natural fibre for activewear

Protection against the elements

While natural fibres are known and highly regarded for their breathability, synthetic membranes like GORE-TEX go one step further. This synthetic fabric is completely waterproof and windproof, with the specially coated material delivering reliable protection in the harshest of conditions.

Unlike other synthetic fibres, GORE-TEX is extremely breathable, offering a unique mix that keeps you comfortable and dry underneath your activewear and out.

Made to be layered

GORE-TEX is pretty unique in its breathability, with most synthetic fibres causing discomfort, especially in hot and humid conditions. With this in mind, synthetic activewear isn’t great for layering, which will make natural alternatives the best solutions for those who rely on layering for work or leisure.

As hiking enthusiasts, we understand the art of layering more than most. Getting layering right is down to choosing the right materials, with natural fibres like linen, wool and cotton the very best options thanks to their lightweight, temperature-regulating and breathable natures.

Our 100% Merino wool socks are perfect for layering, with this brilliant base enabling you to take on any adventure!