When it comes to picking the warmest socks for your cold feet, there’s a lot more to the conversation than thickness and quality of material. Alpaca has been proven to be three times warmer than Merino Wool, making it the warmest natural fiber. Alpaca fleece is made of hollow fibers and those little hollow fibers are behind SO many of the reasons alpaca is as incredible as it is. As your body heats up, it works as an engine to push the moisture molecules to the exterior of the garment through the hollow fibers. This means that it won't become saturated, heavy or stay wet, which allows for products made of alpaca fiber to breathe at an 85% greater rate than Merino Wool. This alone helps keep you warmer while you’re out and about. Sheep’s wool absorbs up to 50% of its weight in moisture, but then it hits a saturation point. After that saturation point is reached (i.e. if you step in some deep snow or a puddle getting out of your car or you’re sweating at the gym), the moisture sits next to the skin and doesn’t go anywhere: it's trapped. This is usually when people get blisters on their feet and experience a damp discomfort or a brutal cold in the heart of winter. You’re also likely to continue to be damp indefinitely until you take the socks off and let them dry for a long time. However, alpaca fibers are hollow whereas sheep’s wool fibers contain lots of little air pockets. Because the alpaca wool fibers are hollow, they trap heat, which repels water mechanically. This makes it so alpaca fiber doesn’t ever reach the saturation point that sheep wool does. The heat from the alpaca wool evaporates a lot of the moisture, creating unparalleled breathability and therefore keeps you dry and warm at much higher rates than any other products. Additionally, as your body pushes the heat away from your body and off gasses the moisture, the hollow fibers retain the warmth your body is producing which in turn increases the fiber’s thermal properties and creates a warmer experience for the wearer. Merino Wool on the other hand is full of air pockets, which means there’s less room to be filled with heat. The nature of the hollow fiber structure in alpaca fleece also makes alpaca fiber extremely lightweight, which allows for it to offer greater warmth for weight than any other natural fiber.
So now we know why alpaca is so warm on its own, but you’ve still got to pick the warmest sock for YOU. An important thing to note about utilizing warmth in alpaca fiber is loft. The loft of alpaca fiber allows for it to be as warm and as breathable as it is. Alpaca loft comes from the nature of its hollow fibers. If those hollow fibers get super condensed and restricted there’s nowhere for the heat to stay so it gets pushed away (and so does your warmth). This means that it’s important to make sure there’s enough room in your shoes, work boots and ski boots for the alpaca wool socks to do their thing. If your shoe fits really tight, it’s probably constricting the alpaca fiber and therefore limiting the thermal capabilities of the sock.
Here’s a break down of our warmest socks:
- Arctic Socks. These are our thickest and warmest socks IF you have room in your shoe for them. They’re an above the calf warm sock that offers all of the warmth of alpaca fleece if they have room to breathe. If your shoes are tight, then these won’t be your warmest option and we recommend our Adventure Socks.
- Extra Cushion Socks. These are a very close runner up to our Arctic Socks. The main difference in these from our Arctic Socks is their fit. They are just about as thick, but are a mid calf sock with a more engineered design, making them a bit more technical. Similarly to our Arctic Socks, if you don’t have enough room for them in your shoe, they won’t be your warmest option. You’ll be able to utilize more of the thermal capabilities of the socks if you go with a thinner sock that has room to do its job. We suggest our Adventure Socks.
- Adventure Socks. When it comes to versatility, these are the best socks. They are warm, but not as thick as the Extra Cushion or Arctic Sock, so they are easier to fit in the majority of shoes and boots. They’re a mid calf sock that offers warmth without bulk and are the warmest sock if you have tighter fitting shoes.
BONUS: Felted Soles. These alpaca wool Felted Sole inserts are designed to be a custom fit for your shoe that allow for an additional quarter inch of loft. This creates extra space to store the heat from your body, therefore keeping you warmer no matter the temperatures. These pair wonderfully with any of our alpaca wool socks as they are designed to enhance the thermal capabilities of the socks even more.
You can also check out our Sock Finder that will help answer questions and guide you toward the right sock for all the aspects of your daily agenda.
If you want to learn more about how and why alpaca is warmer, stronger and more breathable than Merino Wool while also being hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and softer than cashmere, check out our youtube videos.
One of the most important things to remember about alpaca wool is that it is three times warmer than sheep’s wool per its weight, so even if you go for a lighter sock, it’ll still be three times warmer than Merino Wool products of the same weight. Make sure you’re giving your alpaca socks room to do their job and tag @alpacasofmontana in all of your adventures -- we love to follow along!
Join the alpaca revolution! Alpaca is a sustainable alternative that is not only good for the earth, but for all of us. Alpaca wool is stronger, softer, more eco-friendly, and offers 85% greater wicking capability than merino wool. It is also hypoallergenic! Shop our collections and follow us on social media!