Merino Sneaker - Next big thing?

Products made of merino wool have always been very popular among outdoor athletes. But sneakers made from sheep's wool? Until now, the soft wool of the merino sheep has been more familiar from high-quality functional underwear, warm sweaters, scarves and hats - using it as an upper material for shoes is relatively new. However, with the current hype around merino sneakers, the high-quality natural fiber is increasingly coming into focus among outdoor and sports shoe manufacturers. Labels like Baabuk show the undreamed-of potential that lies dormant in this particularly fine sheep's wool. What's the myth about merino wool and what distinguishes merino sneakers from conventional casual sneakers? We take a look behind the Merino hype and tell you what the new trendy sneakers made of sheep's wool can really do.

Like so many sports and lifestyle trends, the Merino hype originated in the USA. It was kicked off by the young start-up Allbirds from San Francisco with its "Wool Runner": the innovative sneaker made from New Zealand sheep's wool quickly became the celebrated darling of the high-tech Silicon Valley scene. In Europe, one initially had to search in vain for comparable shoes, until Giesswein decided in 2017 to realize its very own Merino sneakers via crowdfunding: The Giesswein Merino Runners were sold out after only a short time, and the traditional Tyrolean brand is still struggling to meet the enormous demand for the feel-good wool sneakers. The special feature: The sporty outdoor shoes have a novel 3D Stretch upper material, which is made of 100% pure merino wool.

But even smaller, lesser-known brands have functional merino sneakers in their range that are absolutely worth a look. If you're looking for a sporty, affordable lifestyle sneaker made from high-quality merino wool that is produced fairly and sustainably, the Urban Wooler from Baabuk is the perfect choice. The urban sneakers from the Swiss start-up are made exclusively from natural and recycled materials and are manufactured in the old tradition of one piece without oppressive seams.

Baabuk Urban Wooler
Baabuk Sky Wooler

Trend or not - what are the concrete advantages and disadvantages of the sneakers made of merino wool in contrast to comparable footwear made of textile and synthetic fibers? In terms of functionality and comfort, the time-tested natural fiber is surprisingly in no way inferior to modern high-tech yarns. Thanks to its extremely fine microstructure and strong crimp, it is not scratchy, unlike conventional wool, but velvety soft and silky to the touch. Another advantage of this bulky structure is the good air trapping, which provides a temperature-balancing effect: merino wool keeps feet warm in winter and cool in summer. Similar to modern functional fibers, merino wool can absorb moisture very well and wick it away to the outside, where it can evaporate quickly. Unlike classic textile and synthetic fibers, merino wool is naturally antibacterial and has an odor-inhibiting effect, so you can wear merino sneakers without socks without any problems. Another advantage is the low volume weight of merino wool, which also has a positive effect on the overall weight of merino sneakers.

The natural fiber is also water-repellent, as large drops have only a very small surface area to attack and immediately roll off due to the good surface tension of its curly structure. A waterproof Gore-Tex membrane can't replace that, but merino fans still don't need to fear a light shower. If you want to buy a pair of merino sneakers from Giesswein or Baabuk, you should also keep in mind that merino wool still stretches a bit over time, so merino sneakers generally turn out a bit larger. Thanks to the fine, elastic structure of the material, they naturally adapt to the individual foot shape and thus become more and more comfortable the longer you wear them. In short: Merino sneakers are a comfortable, natural and ecological alternative to classic sneakers and outdoor shoes. If you want to convince yourself of the trendy merino kicks, you can find a selection of sporty Giesswein and Baabuk sneakers made of high-quality merino wool in the Schuhdealer store.

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