Merino wool vs Lambswool: Which is warmer & softer?

Winter is just around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about woolly jumpers, scarves, and hats.

But with so many different types of wool to choose from, it can be challenging to know which one to go for.

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the differences between two of the most popular wool types: merino wool vs lambswool.

While both materials may share some similarities at first glance, there are significant differences between the two that can impact your overall comfort and style.

So, if you’re wondering whether to go for the luxurious softness of merino wool or the durability of lambswool, keep reading!

merino wool vs lambswool

What is lambswool?

Lambswool is a type of wool that comes from the first shearing of a lamb, typically when the animal is around seven months old.

Because it comes from a young animal, lambswool fibers are typically shorter than those of older sheep, which gives it a softer and fluffier texture.

The soft and fine fibers give the wool a luxurious fluffy feel that makes it ideal for high-end fashion knitwear.

Essentially, lambswool is valued for its softness, natural elasticity, and warmth.

Lambswool is sometimes confused with virgin wool but the two are totally different.

The term "virgin wool" is often used in the fashion industry to refer to wool that has not been recycled or reused. In this sense, virgin wool could come from sheep of any age, including lambs.

You can read more about this in our previous article about the differences between virgin wool and merino wool.

Differences between Merino wool and Lambswool 

Qualities Merino wool Lambswool
Source Merino sheep Lamb’s first shearing (Preferably 7-month-old lamb)
Fiber length & diameter Longer and finer fibers Shorter and coarser fibers
Softness Soft Super soft
Warmth Warm Not as warm as merino wool
Durability Durable More durable than merino wool
Moisture-wicking Excellent at wicking moisture Not as effective as merino wool
Elasticity Has natural elasticity Has natural elasticity
Breathability Breathable Breathable-not as much as merino wool
Hypoallergenic Hypoallergenic Hypoallergenic
Quality High quality High quality
Price Expensive Cheaper than merino wool

1. Fiber length and diameter

Lambswool fibers are typically shorter and coarser than Merino wool fibers.

The average length of a lambswool fiber is around 1.5-3 inches while Merino wool fibers can be up to 4 inches in length.

Additionally, the diameter of lambswool fibers is generally larger than that of Merino wool fibers. Lambswool fibers have an average diameter of around 24-28 microns, while Merino wool fibers can range from 12-24 microns in diameter.

This shorter length and larger diameter of lambswool fibers tend to give it a thicker texture and a slightly more rustic look.

2. Softness

Is lambswool softer than merino wool? Well, yes it is!

Despite the fact that it has a higher micron count, Lambswool is softer than Merino wool because it comes from the first shearing of a young lamb.

The wool fibers from a young lamb are still very fine and have not been exposed to harsh environmental factors.

This is why the lambswool fibers are more delicate and softer to the touch than merino wool fibers that come from mature sheep.

Think of it like this. Compare a newborn baby’s skin to that of an adult. A baby’s skin is often much softer and more delicate than an adult’s as it has not yet been exposed to the elements.

This however does not mean that merino wool is coarse or rough. It is also soft just not as much as lambswool.

3. Warmth

No, lambswool is not warmer than merino wool as many people tend to think.

One of the reasons why most people assume this is due to the fact that lambswool has a higher micron count than merino wool, which makes it feel slightly thicker.

While this is true, a higher micron count doesn’t necessarily translate to greater warmth. The natural crimp in the wool fibers is what determines its level of warmth. 

Merino wool has a higher natural crimp than lambswool, which creates more air pockets within the fibers. These air pockets trap heat and act as insulation, keeping you warm even in cold weather.

Additionally, the fine fibers of Merino wool make it denser than lambswool, which allows it to trap more heat.

So, in terms of warmth, Merino wool is generally warmer than lambswool.

4. Moisture-wicking

Lambswool does have some natural moisture-wicking capabilities.

This means it can help to regulate your body temperature by drawing moisture away from your skin and allowing it to evaporate.

However, Merino wool is generally considered to be better at moisture-wicking than lambswool due to its finer fibers and a greater number of air pockets.

The finer fibers of Merino wool allow for more air pockets to be trapped within the fabric, which helps to create a better moisture-wicking environment.

Additionally, Merino wool has higher natural lanolin content than lambswool which can help to repel moisture and prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

That being said, lambswool can still be a good option for moisture-wicking in certain situations particularly in colder weather or for less strenuous activities.

5. Quality and durability

Both merino and lambswool are considered to be of high quality and durable.

They both have natural elasticity that allows the clothing to stretch and revert back easily without causing shrinkage.

The ability to resist stretching enables them to withstand wear and tear, which is an advantage for wool clothing items that need to maintain their shape over time.

That said, Merino wool is generally considered to be more durable than lambswool.

This is because Merino wool fibers are finer and more uniform in diameter than lambswool fibers, which makes them less likely to break or pill with wear.

In contrast, lambswool fibers are typically shorter and more irregular in diameter. This can make them more prone to breaking and pilling with wear.

6. Breathability

Both types of wool are natural materials that are highly breathable compared to synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.

They can both help to regulate body temperature and keep you comfortable in a variety of conditions.

However, merino wool is known to be more breathable than lambswool because its fibers are thinner which allows for excellent moisture management and ventilation.

This means that it can easily wick away sweat from your skin and release it into the air, helping to keep you cool and dry in hot or humid conditions.

Lambswool fibers are thicker and less uniform in diameter than Merino wool fibers, which can make it more difficult for moisture to move through the fabric.

difference between merino wool and lambswool

7. Price

While the price of wool depends on several factors, Merino wool is generally more expensive than lambswool.

This is attributed to the fact that Merino wool is generally considered to be a more limited lambswool.

This is because Merino sheep are selectively bred for their fine high-quality wool, which means that their wool production is lower than that of other sheep breeds.

Lambswool on the other hand is typically sourced from a variety of sheep breeds including Merino sheep, but also other breeds such as Bluefaced Leicester and Border Leicester.

For this reason, there is generally a greater supply of lambswool available on the market to make clothing.

For instance, a high-quality Merino wool sweater may cost upwards of $100 or more while a comparable lambswool sweater may be priced in the $50-$80 range making it more affordable.

Of course, prices can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the brand, the style, and the specific processing and manufacturing techniques used.

8. Hypoallergenic

Both merino and lambswool are hypoallergenic, which makes them more comfortable for people with sensitive skin or allergies than other types of fabrics.

Lambswool is considered to be hypoallergenic because it is less itchy than wool obtained from adult sheep. It also repels dust mites and other allergens.

Merino wool is also considered to be hypoallergenic because it contains a good amount of lanolin which enables it to repel allergens. It also makes it softer and less irritating to the skin when wearing wool.

Additionally, both types of wool are treated to enhance their hypoallergenic properties, such as through washing or special treatments during processing.

However, if you have sensitive skin or allergies, it’s important to choose high-quality wool products and look for specific hypoallergenic treatments to ensure maximum comfort and safety.


In conclusion, the debate between Merino wool vs lambswool is complex and ultimately depends on a variety of factors such as the intended use of the material, personal preferences, and budget.

While Merino wool is often considered to be of higher quality, more versatile, and better suited for outdoor activities due to its superior moisture-wicking properties and softness, lambswool is a durable and cost-effective option that can provide warmth and comfort in colder weather.

So it’s worth noting that both types of wool have their unique properties and characteristics that make them valuable materials for a wide range of clothing items.

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