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Our wool has its origins at the heart of a natural paradise. Where the air is at its purest, the food rich, and the climate moderate – this is where the best merino wool in the world can be found. Surrounded by thousands of kilometers of water, far away from industrial sites, the best air quality on earth can be verifiably measured in Tasmania. The western part of the island is almost inaccessible, characterized by peaks covered in snow until the early summer (the highest mountain is Mount Ossa at 5,304ft), while the eastern part looks more like a green plateau – and it is precisely here that our merino sheep live in incomparable seclusion. Over an area as large as Bavaria, just under 500,000 inhabitants (compared to Bavaria’s 12.6 million) live here along with 3 million merino sheep. Sheep herds with an average of 10,000 animals see perhaps just two or three people a year – the rest of the time they live independently in the midst of fertile grassy pastures, surrounded by mighty eucalyptus trees, and joined occasionally by Tasmanian devils.


At ORTOVOX we have put our trust in wool since 1988. That is more than a quarter of a century of experience in working with the most functional of all natural fibers. Starting from the first layer, right through to the third, we take a holistic approach and do not produce any garments without using sheep’s wool fibers. Our expertise lies in our intelligent combination of natural material and other innovative fabrics. With the resulting system of wear comfort we provide you with unique functionality and wear-comfort properties for your mountain adventures. We discovered merino wool in 1995, both for ourselves and for all mountaineers. Merino wool offers particular advantages due to its very fine fiber diameter and excellent durability. At ORTOVOX we only use wool fibers measuring 18–19 microns (one micron = one-thousandth of a millimeter). By way of comparison: a human hair measures approximately 50–100 microns, and the human itching threshold is 25 microns. There are, of course, thinner fiber diameters, although these cannot really be processed economically and, what’s more, they do not offer the stability required for alpine sports.


There are two main reasons why Tasmania is home to the best-quality wool in the world. Merino sheep have been bred in Tasmania for over 180 years. This has led to the emergence of modern breeds which provide very fine, tear-resistant wool and which, thanks to their body shape, do not require the notorious, painful mulesing. It is also the sheep’s living conditions which are responsible for the top-quality wool. Tasmania provides the greatest possible diversity. The animals can roam almost unlimitedly and discover rich, natural sources of food, such as pasture grass, which is especially high in protein. The climate is moderate, since the winters are not particularly cold, and extreme heat is just as rare. These factors lead to uniform fiber growth – and uniform is synonymous with stable here. Tasmanian shepherds recognize the importance of their animals, and in 180 years they have learned to handle them in a way that is appropriate to the species, characterized by sustainable farming and responsible action.
Here you can find verification of the use of mulesing-free wool!


More than half the world's sheep population is descended from merino sheep or is a merino cross-bred. The merino sheep originally comes from Spain, where records first show it being traded in 1307. Like all domestic sheep, it is a descendant of the mouflon. The European mouflon now only exists on Sardinia and Corsica in the wild.
The first Spanish merino sheep were exported to Australia approx. 200 years ago. Whereas the priority for European sheep farming was improving the meat, Australian breeding concentrated on the wool. The Australian settlers had no other choice, as exporting meat was unthinkable with the old sailing ships. They therefore worked down through the generations on improving the sheep's wool in order to get more and finer wool fibres of the best quality. The sheep's numbers are today estimated at over one billion worldwide.
With approx.125 million sheep altogether, Australia is the world's leading supplier of fine-fibred wool. New Zealand with approx. 70 million sheep, China and the former Soviet states are also significant wool producers, above all of a coarser quality.


The eastern highlands of Tasmania are home to one of four farms where we obtain merino wool for our Mountainwear collection. Merino sheep have been raised on Ashby Farm for five generations. We visited the farm and got to know the family.


The shearing process is purely manual labor. Shepherds usually have a few shearing barns where the sheep are shorn manually once a year. This is not done by the shepherd himself, but by a team of shearers. Three to four shearers usually work simultaneously. They are supported by a harness around their upper bodies to help prevent back pain. Whilst shearing the sheep, they hold it between their legs and shave the wool from its entire body. This causes the animal absolutely no pain. A state-certified wool expert then determines the quality of the wool. The fiber’s diameter, length, grade of purity, and tear strength are evaluated and divided into five categories. A top-class sheep provides approximately 10 kilograms of wool – a good shearer gets through approximately 180 animals a day, and is paid 2.60 AUD per animal.


Converting greasy new wool into a collection of smooth fibers takes five steps:
1: Wool scouring – grease and dirt are removed
2: During carding, the last residue is removed
3: Fibers are bundled and aligned
4: Matted and short fibers are combed out
5: The wool is aligned another two times
Most people will probably recognize the logo of a small ball of wool. THE WOOLMARK COMPANY and its family of brands are the drivers of innovation in the wool industry. We are also keen licensees and thus benefit time and again from the most advanced fiber developments and diverse marketing support. THE WOOLMARK COMPANY provides an excellent network, which encompasses the global supply chain, from the sheep to the wool processors and brands, and does its utmost to make the wool fibers even better and better-known.


Nobody wants to smell. With wool, you can get by with just a few items of clothing, even on mountain hikes lasting several days. This is made possible by the protein molecules in the merino fibers which simply destroy odor-forming bacteria. After the tour, you should simply leave your product to air, and you’ll be able to wear it again the next day. Your companions and the environment will thank you for it!
Wool fibers are hydrophilic fibers – and that’s precisely what makes them extremely functional! They can absorb up to 35% of their own weight in moisture without feeling wet to the touch. The fiber surface remains dry, while the moisture moves to the fiber core. In contrast to down or polyester, wool thus feels warm and comfortable, even when wet. Of course, wool also dries out quickly, too – even keeping you refreshingly cool on hot summer days. And of course, the moisture is also released, providing refreshment in warmer temperatures: warm ambient air leads to a quick drying effect, which provides cooling evaporative coolness. Wool fibers are thus all-rounders that do exactly what you expect from them, whatever the season – they cool you down in summer, and warm you in winter.
Merino wool does not itch! At 18–19 microns (one micron = one-thousandth of a millimeter), the fine wool fibers are so thin that they are well below the human itching threshold of 25 microns. And for anyone who still believes that wool itches (because they are constantly reminded of the woolen jumpers their grandma used to knit), we have developed special versions (such as MERINO SUPERSOFT and MERINO COMPETITION). With these combinations, other types of fibers are in contact with the skin (Lenzing Modal made from beech wood cellulose – MERINO SUPERSOFT) or else we have mixed in a small amount of synthetic fibers (MERINO COMPETITION)
Even our grandmothers knew that wool keeps us warm in winter – that’s why we all had those wonderfully itchy woolen jumpers. But keeping us cool in summer? Even our grandmothers wouldn’t have thought of that. The thermo-regulating qualities are based on two principles: On the one hand, wool fibers are highly rippled and provide plenty of space for air in the gaps between them. This air serves as an insulation layer, in both summer and winter, against heat and cold. The insulating layer also makes it possible for merino sheep to survive in the sometimes hot Tasmanian summers. The second principle is based on cooling by evaporative coolness. Wool can absorb more than 35% of its own weight in moisture (without feeling wet to the touch). If the ambient air is warm, the moisture dries faster, resulting in this refreshing evaporative coolness. If our grandmothers had known that, there would have been woolen T-shirts back then, too.
Even though wool has an inherent odor-neutralizing effect, you might find yourself in a situation where someone squirts ketchup on your product and you need to wash it. This is easier than you might think: The special finishing of our merino wool with the “Total Easy Care” process makes it possible to simply machine wash at 30 or 40°. This simply washes the scaly structure of the wool fibers, making it possible to protect the wool from severe shrinkage. Just like for most functional clothing, you should nevertheless avoid dry cleaning and dryers.

Washing instructions can be found here.
Wool is ecological by nature! Depending on their race, merino sheep are shorn once to twice a year – so they grow a new coat all by themselves. The shearing process is purely manual labor and causes the animal absolutely no pain. And who wants to haul a thick fleece around with them on a hot summer’s day anyway?








As a manufacturer of alpine sports equipment and as a team of keen alpinists ourselves, the environment and the conditions in which our products are manufactured are particularly important to us. That’s why we work with renowned suppliers (e.g. Lenzing / Austria, Toray / Japan or schoeller / Switzerland), who are just as committed to environmental protection and fair working conditions as we are, and who share our ethical values. Due to short transport distances, as well as increasing legal restrictions, more and more of our products are manufactured in Europe. As you will notice when browsing our product range, we have marked all of these products with our own logo – and there are quite a few of them. In close cooperation with our suppliers we are constantly trying to develop new manufacturing processes in order to minimize our ecological footprint. Two examples of future-oriented actions we have taken are the elimination of the use of C8 PFCs in the fall of 2011, after they were classified as critical, as well as the use of PFC-free membranes in the hardshell sector. Ultimately, it is our view that sustainability primarily arises from high quality and its associated product durability, as well as from the use of natural raw materials such as wool or cellulose fibers.

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