At one time or another, you’ve probably found yourself in the midst of a dinner table conversation about whether cashmere is actually any better than wool, or perhaps why an alpaca is not the same thing as a llama (yes, our family is a bit strange). The truth is that there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there when it comes to these fibers, so we thought a simple breakdown comparison of cashmere vs. wool vs. alpaca might do us all some good.
Wool vs. Cashmere
According to Slate.com, a cashmere sweater can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, yet a traditional wool sweater usually only costs a small fraction of that. Why? First of all, it’s worth knowing that cashmere technically comes from a goat’s wool, as opposed to a sheep’s. But the main reason that cashmere costs so much more is that the processing involved to manufacture it. Unlike sheep’s wool, cashmere comes from only the undercoat layer of wool on a special goat bred especially to produce cashmere fiber. Additionally, it takes the coat of two whole goats just to make one cashmere sweater. By contrast, multiple wool sweaters could be spun from a single sheep’s coat.
Is an Alpaca the Same Thing As a Llama?
Although both animals hail from South America, ModernFarmer.com points out the following key differences between alpacas and llamas.
- Size: Alpacas weigh around 150 pounds while llamas can get as heavy as 400 pounds. An average alpaca stands between 34 and 36 inches at the shoulder, while a llama stands 42 to 46 inches.
- Use: For 5,000+ years alpacas have been bred in Peru for fiber, while llamas have been bred as pack animals and for their meat.
- Fleece: The alpaca produces a much finer fiber than the llama, as well as more of it.
Sheep’s Wool vs. Alpaca Fleece
Now that we know the difference between sheep’s wool, goat’s cashmere, alpaca fleece, and even llama meat, let’s explore the difference between sheep’s wool and alpaca fleece.
Which is warmer seems to be a subjective opinion, but here’s why people on the alpaca side say that alpaca fleece is warmer than sheep’s wool: “Alpaca is a hollow fiber, where sheep wool has pockets of air. Much like Polar Bear fur, the air pockets allow for heat to be trapped, creating greater thermal capacity. Thus, alpaca does tend to be able to be warmer than wool.” The alpaca folks also claim that the hollowness of alpaca fiber allows it to absorb even more moisture than wool, which theoretically would make it more moisture wicking.
It’s worth pointing out that we’ve seen good arguments on both sides that wool and alpaca fleece are both extremely warm, breathable, and moisture wicking fibers. Of course, there will always be someone who claims to know for sure that one is superior to the other, but at the end of the day, it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Luxury from Spink & Edgar
Spink & Edgar’s luxury mattress design incorporates wool and alpaca fleece into the comfort layers, which are those blanketed soft materials above the pocket coils and micro coils that make up the core of each bed. This incorporation of wool and alpaca fibers help to regulate temperature as well as wick away humidity. Undoubtedly, another reason why Spink & Edgar is like no other manufacturer in the luxury mattress market today.
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