5 Reasons to Choose Alpaca Over Other Natural Fibers
Alpacas. Of course they the most cute and cuddly of all the Camelid family (which also includes llamas, camels, guanacos, and vicunas). But why are we so crazy about alpaca fiber? And what makes them so different than any other natural fiber out there?
An easy answer would be, because it's so soft and squishy!
But that is not the only reason you should pick alpaca fiber for your next project!
Not all natural fibers are created equally, and each has their own strengths. After all, sheep’s wool has been used since the time of Adam and Eve and still has its great uses, but alpaca fiber is an underappreciated, underutilized, and fairly unknown “miracle” fiber - till now!
Here are our top 5 reasons everyone should own garments and accessories made from alpaca fiber!
1. Warmer, Lighter, and Softer than Synthetic fiber and Almost Every Other Natural Fiber, Including Merino, Cashmere and Goose Down!
Based on the recent research alpaca fiber provides a 50 degree F (20 C) comfort range. Bottom line, it’s 20 degrees warmer than most synthetics, and 30 degrees warmer than wool. Studies have also shown garments made from alpaca fiber are 30% lighter and 10% warmer than goose down. Alpaca fiber is "breathable" and wicks away moisture 85% more than wool and 3x stronger than wool.
2. Naturally Antimicrobial and Odor Resistant
In recent years the outdoor and sports textile industry has observed a elevated interest in antimicrobial clothing products from customers who are seeking odor resistant and antimicrobial clothing. The industry has principally addressed this high demand by treating fabrics with chemicals which inhibit bacterial growth. It’s highly effective at suppressing bacteria on the clothing short term although in most cases those chemicals vanish over time as the clothing is used and washed, resulting in a loss of antibacterial qualities. This has led some market observers to raise environmental concerns regarding the resulting presence of the chemicals in water, soil, and on the human body. While the effect is modest, the antibacterial properties of the keratin protein component of animal fibers, including alpaca, are a more natural and durable alternative to chemical treatment. You can read a recent laboratory study here.
3. Naturally Eco-Friendly
Each year alpacas must be shorn (or given a hair cut!) for their own health and well being. In no way does this injure or harm the animals in any way. An alpaca (or any fiber producing animal for that matter) risks heat stroke, skin diseases, and a host of other problems if not properly trimmed every year. A single alpaca can produce anywhere from 5-10 pounds of usable fiber every single year.
Additionally, alpacas cause less damage to the land based on the unique way they eat. Instead of pulling grasses up by the roots like most animal do, they trim grass from the side leaving the root system intact, and enabling the grass to continue to grow.
Lastly, alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin like sheep's wool. Lanolin is a grease, and must be removed in order to have a pleasant feeling fiber - a processes that often uses harsh chemicals and gallons of water. Alpaca fiber also does not require high heat in order for it to be cleaned, unlike sheep's wool.
4. Naturally Wind, Water, and Stain Proof - as well as fire-resistant!
Without the use of chemicals alpaca fiber naturally repels water. While this amazing feature originally was designed to keep the animal happy and healthy, its a wonderful thing for us to take advantage of as well! In fact, alpaca fiber was given a Class 1 rating by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for its fire-resistant properties.
5. Naturally Hypo-Allergenic
Allergies are such a problem in our society today, which is why so many people feel that they must use synthetic materials. Alpacas are naturally hypo-allergenic because they lack lanolin found in sheep's wool.
So there you have it. I'm sure you always knew that these animals were pretty special, but now you are armed with 5 reasons as to why!