Merino Wool vs. Alpaca – Which Is Better?

Last Updated on March 26, 2023

Merino wool and alpaca wool both have their unique qualities and benefits. Merino wool is known for its softness, durability, and versatility, while alpaca wool is praised for its warmth and hypoallergenic properties. With so many factors to weigh, deciding which one to choose can be challenging.

Merino Wool vs. Alpaca
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Understanding the differences between merino wool and alpaca wool is crucial in making an informed decision. Whether you’re a knitter, a weaver, or just looking for a cozy sweater, it’s essential to know the pros and cons of each type of wool. 

Here, we’ll compare merino wool and alpaca wool, so you can decide which one to choose for your next project.

Merino Wool

Merino sheep are bred in the mountains of Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, and the best wool for yarn production is taken from their withers.

As a result of living in a cold climate, Thin (about 20-25 microns) merino wools have acquired a characteristic cellular structure as a result of living in a cold climate, which retains heat well, absorbs moisture, and does not interfere with air exchange, and also makes wool very light and silky to the touch.

Image: Merino
Source: iStock

Such fibers, even absorbing moisture, keep the skin dry and warm. Moreover, they do not absorb dirt and odors. The creatine in merino wool has bactericidal properties.

A merino blanket is believed to have healing properties; it effectively warms up cold back and joint pain, promotes relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and even helps with insomnia.

Merino wool is easily dyed in a variety of colors. This allows you to create products of a wide variety of textures and colors. Plaids with jacquard patterns, a textured embossed surface, and “pictures” of various subjects that occupy the entire surface are very popular.

In Addition – Discover the comparison – Merino Wool vs. Wool


As for alpacas, they live in the South American highlands. The thickness of their fibers is about the same as that of merino (20 microns for baby alpaca, 30 microns for llamas).

Still, at the same time, they are hollow, absolutely smooth, and very pleasant to the touch, and besides, they do not contain the lanolin characteristic of sheep wool. As a result, an alpaca wool blanket retains heat seven times more effectively than a similar merino wool blanket, and at the same time, it will weigh three times less. Alpaca also has a beneficial effect on the body and promotes effective warming and relaxation of the body.

Image: Alpaca
Source: iStock

It is also important that the absence of lanolin reduces the possibility of allergic reactions even in very sensitive people, so the alpaca blanket is considered the safest for newborns.

In addition, this wool prevents overheating, allowing you to maintain a comfortable body temperature in cold and hot weather. Therefore, an alpaca blanket is very versatile – it will be cozy with it both in January frosts and on summer evenings.

However, such wonderful things are quite expensive. But they are very durable and retain both their useful properties and an elite appearance for a long time. 

A real alpaca blanket has a discreet natural color. It is often made solid or provided with stripes of a different color along the edges. Traditional patterns also include checks and ethnic South American ornaments. 

Thin blankets made of elite baby alpaca wool are often made in one color and with a structure that imitates hand-knitting patterns. First of all, such products are intended for newborns.

As you can see, the choice between merino and alpaca home textiles is more complex. A compromise can be blankets made from their mixture. 

They combine the positive properties of both types of fibers; their range is very diverse and allows you to satisfy any taste and level of requirements.

Merino Wool vs. Alpaca – Which is Better?

Alpaca and Merino wool are popular choices for clothing and accessories but have different properties. Here are the differences between Alpaca and Sheep’s wool:

  1. Warmth and Weight: Alpaca fibers are significantly lighter than sheep wool, yet they provide more warmth.
  2. Hypoallergenic: Compared to merino, alpaca yarn is less likely to cause allergies due to its unique composition and smoothness.
  3. Animal Fat: Unlike sheep wool, alpaca fibers do not contain any animal fat lanolin, making them more environmentally friendly and less polluted.
  4. Fiber Characteristics: Alpaca fibers are straighter and smoother than merino, while the scales on sheep wool can make it feel prickly.
  5. Suitability for Allergies: Alpaca is a better choice for allergy sufferers and for knitting children’s products, whereas not all types of sheep wool are suitable.
  6. Care: Alpaca products require less care than sheepskin, as they do not shrink significantly when washed and dry faster.
  7. Durability: Knitted items produced of specially processed merino are more robust and long-lasting than those made of alpaca, and merino is machine washable.
  8. Processing: Unlike high-quality merino yarn that is subjected to synthetic processing, alpaca is not processed and is considered more environmentally friendly.
  9. Color: Merino wool comes in a wider range of colors than alpaca.
  10. Water Resistance: Alpaca fibers are water-repellent, yet they can still absorb moisture, unlike merino wool.

In Addition – Know the differences between Merino Wool and Cashmere.

Comparison Table between Alpaca and Merino Wool

CharacteristicAlpacaMerino Wool
Odor ControlExcellentExcellent
SoftnessSofterLess soft
Allergy ReactionNonePossible
Tensile StrengthHigherLower
WarmthWarmerLess warm
Water RetentionLessMore
Environmental SustainabilityMore sustainableLess sustainable

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More and more manufacturers of woolen clothes and lovers of needlework are choosing alpaca as a more practical material and easy to sew and use.

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