The fibre is collected in woolsheds all around the country after being shorn off the animals. The best Merino comes from the Southland high country where the cold conditions make for the best growing conditions for a thinner softer fibre. When combined with Possum fur the resulting product has qualities unmatched by any other natural fibre clothing.
The Merino fibre has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools. It is also an excellent body temperature regulator, in part because the Merino fibers have fine scales which help trap small pockets of air. When woven into a fabric this creates a barrier of air between the cold outside air and the warmer air inside the garment (much the same way a double glazed window works) keeping you much warmer without overheating.
Merino wool draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin by the fibre in a process known as wicking. Merino fabric is also slightly moisture repellent (keratin fibers are hydrophobic at one end and hydrophilic at the other), allowing the user to avoid the feeling of wetness. For this reason Merino wool is becoming more popular in sporting clothing and high performance athletic wear.
The Merino wool used to make clothing today is of a higher quality than say 5-10 years ago. Where as some Merino wool used to be itchy in clothing there is now a larger emphasis on quality control in the Merino industry right from the Merino sheep themselves and breeding right through to the final product. Merino wool today is one of the softest types of wool available due to thinner and softer fibres, when you combine that with the other characteristics Merino is being used to make some of the most comfortable clothing around.
Merino wool contains lanolin which has antibacterial properties.