Woolexperts
Athlete: Team ORTOVOX
Photo: Hansi Heckmair

Wool experts

As pioneers of functional wool clothing for alpine sports, we have been using sheep’s wool to make different layers of clothing for over 25 years.

About ORTOVOX

Since ORTOVOX was founded in 1980, it has been the Bavarian company’s mission to provide the ultimate in high-quality protection for alpine pursuits and protective clothing.

In 1988, ORTOVOX added mountaineering clothing made from sheep’s wool to its product range. Since then, its core competence has been the combination of this natural material with other innovative fibers and materials in each layer of the clothing system. 

ORTOVOX strives to produce highly functional products offering the best possible protection and

maximum comfort. Its target group is active in all the traditional mountain sports, including ski tours, freeriding, alpine climbing, mountaineering and alpine tours – even on more extreme terrains.

ORTOVOX sees itself as a premium manufacturer for both summer and winter activities. Our passion for untouched powder snow on ski tours unites the employees just as much as shared experiences on rugged rocks, alpine tours or mountain hikes. Friendship is one of the company’s core values – within the team, with customers, business partners and suppliers. 

Milestones

  • Always wool

    Always wool

    From 1988 onward, the company’s philosophy is “always wool”. Ever since, ORTOVOX has been using sheep’s wool in all the clothing it produces for mountaineers. The first touring jackets and jumpers, hats, gaiters, gloves and socks are made of 100% felted virgin sheep’s wool, which boasts “natural” benefits compared with synthetic fiber products. Thanks to its high moisture absorbency, functional wool clothing is particularly suited for mountain sports because it warms you even when wet and thus offers high safety reserves in borderline situations.

    The first jumpers, hats and headbands made of snuggly wool fleece were added to the range for the first time in 1993. The soft wool fleece is light as a feather, comfortable to wear and easy to care for thanks to the superwash finish.

  • Merino wool

    The first functional underwear made from merino wool was introduced in 1995: Shirt, pants and polo necks for alpine skiing, ski tours and mountain hikes, rendering frequent changing of clothing unnecessary. This marks the beginning of a Bavarian success story: From now on, non-scratch wool is a firm fixture of the ORTOVOX mountainwear collection.

    Merino wool
  • Swisswool

    In 2011, ORTOVOX develops the SWISSWOOL insulating line in cooperation with Baur Vliesstoffe. As the first insulating wool products, the line offers functional alternatives to down or polyester linings. Warming Swiss wool is stitched into insulation chambers inside the products. The material mix of nylon and wool makes this product, which is manufactured completely in Europe, a highly functional third layer. When using rippled Swiss virgin wool, particular attention is paid to sustainable production and regional origin. 

    Find out more about SWISSWOOL

Transparency

When we enjoy a glass of wine, we know where it comes from. Similarly, we also know where our salad was grown. We are also interested in knowing where and how the merino sheep live that produce the wool we have come to love so much. Transparency means taking a closer look.We source our fine merino fibers from six farms we completely trust. They treat the sheep so well that we can process and wear their wool with a clear conscience. ORTOVOX employees are always making on-site visits to the four-legged providers and the farmers and their families in order to take a look behind the scenes and under the wool.

As the basis for all collaborative work with our six farms we have introduced the WOOL POLICY, which focuses primarily on the well-being of the sheep:

CARE
Providing conditions and treatment that prevent mental suffering. For example, mulesing is not practiced at any of our six farms.

MEDICAL SUPPORT
Taking precautions and ensuring quick diagnosis and treatment.

ANIMAL WELFARE
Providing ample space and clean facilities for the sheep to share with their fellow species. 

COMFORT AND PROTECTION
Providing an appropriate environment with shelter and a comfortable resting area.

FEEDING CONTROLS
Ensuring the sheep have constant access to fresh water and food that provides a healthy source of energy.

Transparency is also the foundation of our sustainability program. We strive to maintain a policy of openness regarding where our products are manufactured and what the on-site working conditions are like.

A further foundation for a reliable monitoring system is formed by logging all factories and performing factory assessments and evaluating existing audit reports.

ORTOVOX protects

  • ORTOVOX protects

    Material

    Ever since our company was founded back in 1980, we have been completely dedicated to the issue of protection. All our actions, our products, our communication and our entire brand promise are based on the guiding principle of “ORTOVOX PROTECTS”. Protection is fairly obvious in winter.  But how can ORTOVOX provide protection in summer?After intensive days of climbing in the Tasmanian wilderness, bivouacking here or there on the north face of a mountain in the Alpine region we can finally answer the question: Materials such as Merino Shield, which is made up of merino wool reinforced with robust Cordura®, protected us from rugged rocks and thorny bushes. Waterproof and equally breathable materials such as Merino Hardshell Light protected us from the wet and the cold. All the products in our collections offer even greater protection, coupled with comfort, functionality and our typical design.

  • Color means visibility

    We love color. But color is not purely a design feature. For us it means visibility – especially when it comes to alpine search and rescue missions.

    Color means visibility
  • ORTOVOX protects

    UV protection

    Our clothing protects you from dangerous UV radiation. Every item of our clothing contains wool, a natural material that offers a higher protection factor than many other materials.
    We measure the UV protection of our clothing using the “Australian / New Zealand Standard 4399:1996”. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is the unit of measurement. Products with a UPF value of 25 or above provide very good protection. Material with a UPF value of 25, for example, allows only four percent of UV radiation to pass through. Many different factors decide how well a product protects against UV radiation. The structure of the fabric has the greatest influence: The thicker the fabric, the better the protection. Other factors include material and color: For example, wool and darker colors protect better than cotton and light colors.

Layering system

The combination of the first, second and third layers ensures the most comfortable possible microclimate, functionality and the ultimate level of protection from the elements. We call this our wear comfort system. As modern as the term sounds, the idea behind it is centuries old: in the old days, it was known as the “onion principle”. Items of clothing made from sheep’s wool in particular offered optimum comfort on icy winter days and for physical exertion. Of course, the

design was different back then, but the wool fibers were just as functional and protective as they are today.

These days, the process of coordinating individual articles with each other is known as the layering system. It’s all based on a simple yet ingenious principle:

  • Merino First Layer

    The merino wool base layer keeps you warm and dry as nature intended. The fine merino fibers transport moisture into the core of the fiber and release it very slowly. This keeps the skin wonderfully dry and regulates the body temperature in a completely natural way. 

    ORTOVOX Layering System
  • ORTOVOX Layering System

    Merino Second Layer

    The merino wool mid-layer is bursting with functionality: Delivering maximum freedom of movement, this layer also offers the necessary breathability while simultaneously warming the body.

  • Merino Third Layer

    This outer layer of clothing protects you from the elements. Rain, snow, and stormy weather stay outside while you enjoy the optimal personal climate inside – of course, the layers below it are also to thank for this.

    ORTOVOX Layering System

Combination

Our expertise lies in the intelligent combination of wool and functional high-tech fibers!

Material blends of high-tech fibers and their natural counterparts combine the best of both worlds. We use and position wool so ingeniously that our products are always getting more durable, comfortable and functional. In other cases, the combination begins in the yarn itself. Take our MERINO ULTRA products, for example, where we use a nylon core as the basis and twist soft merino fibers around it.