Home › The 5 Points of Merino
The Merino™ lining in a wetsuit absorbs and retains any water entering the suit. The retained water swells in the Merino™ lining. In laboratory tests, Merino™ held 30% more water than the best synthetic linings. This is because the Merino™ fibres absorb moisture, whereas synthetics can't. This creates a water-logged layer of up to 3mm between the neoprene and your skin. Merino™ is 'exothermic', which means it releases a significant amount of heat as it absorbs water. This helps you to warm your "water-skin" quicker.
The weave of the Merino™ lining also helps to reduce the movement of water inside the suit. Because this layer of saturated Merino™ is primarily water, it is not affected by depth. So as the neoprene crushes and becomes less effective, your 3mm layer of drenched Merino™ retains its thermal insulating properties. In recent tests by the British Textile Technology Group, Merino™ proved to offer a 35% increase in thermal efficiency, in both dry and saturated conditions, over the best synthetic linings.
Merino’s™ super soft composition and fine micron count eliminates the prickle associated with other wools, which can feel itchy against the skin. The softness of Merino™ reduces rashes caused by continuous movement in high action areas, such as under the arm. Because of Merino’s™ ability to draw moisture away from the fibre’s surface, it eliminates the sharp cold feeling associated with donning a damp suit.
Merino’s™ natural crimp and resilience make it far more resistant to abrasion and ‘Velcro-attack’ while also reducing the ability for soil particles to stick to your suit lining.
Merino’s™ excellent moisture absorption and uneven surface structure help prevent the build-up of odour causing bacteria, whereas these bacteria thrive on the exposed flat surface of synthetics. This keeps your wetsuit fresh and hygienic for longer.
Merino™ is a sustainable resource. Whereas synthetic linings are constructed from petrochemicals, Merino™ is as natural and organic as your own skin. Sure, Merino™ has proven to be a far more efficient wetsuit lining than synthetics. Sure, it is exothermic on wetting, faster self-draining and more hygienic. But the real beauty of slipping into a Merino™-lined wetsuit is the beauty of nature herself. It just feels right.
Scuba diving was born in the 20th century and so the evolution of undersea equipment has gone hand in hand with the rapid progression of 20th century technology. From rubber facemasks to digital dive computers, from neoprene to titanium, every year some amazing new gadget, material, design, or device will burst on the scene to improve our diving lives. Without the synthetics and technology of the 20th century, scuba diving would still be just science fiction. Surprising then that one of the first major discoveries of the 21st century to revolutionise the wetsuit industry, is a material that mankind has already been using for over 2000 year, Merino™ fibre.
Award-winning designer John Gordon, has been designing wetsuits for over thirty years and admits that he never considered lining his suits with sheep-wool in all that time. But with increased global environmental awareness and some astounding research into the properties of this miracle fibre, John discovered that not only was the merino option a viable alternative, in many areas it was superior to the petro-chemical synthetics currently being widely used. Not to be confused with the wool of a normal sheep, merino fibre has unique qualities that make it a superior fibre for the lining of wetsuits. In fact it is one of the most complex fibres - natural or synthetic- known to mankind.
With its natural composition and complexity, Merino™ easily adapts to your body’s temperature and its unique moisture control properties make it a remarkable discovery for the wetsuit industry. Merino sheep have been bred for it’s wool for over 2000 years and has many different strains around the world, but the world’s best merino fibre comes from a small Merino population bred in isolation in one of the remotest parts of the world. Deep in the South Pacific, the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand are home to this elite band of sheep. The climatic extremes and isolation of this harsh, rugged landscape have led to the development of a special fibre, New Zealand Merino™, which is unrivalled in softness, purity and strength.
The New Zealand Merino™ fibres used in Trident wetsuits are much finer than traditional wools, ensuring next-to-skin comfort, while maintaining the durability and colourfastness of wool. Compared to synthetic fibres, Merino is a complex structure with hydrophobic outer scales and hydrophilic inner cells. This unique combination of characteristics ensures Merino’s™ outstanding functional performance. New Zealand’s pristine alpine environment, majestic merino and innovative growing systems combine to produce the world most exclusive fibre - New Zealand Merino™. New Zealand Merino™ fibres are long, strong, flexible and extremely fine. It is these distinctive characteristics that make New Zealand Merino™ soft and comfortable against the skin.
There’s an old school physics experiment where an ice cube is wired to the bottom of a test tube filled with water. When the students dutifully heat the top of the test tube with a flame and boil away the surface water, the ice remains frozen. “What does that demonstrate, Jenkins?” the physics teacher would ask. Jenkins would shrug helplessly while the rest of the class attempt to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. “Water,” the physics teacher would explain pointedly while stalking between desks and glaring at each student in turn, “is an excellent thermal insulator”, “Ah yes, of course”, the class would scribble this exciting fact down and promptly forget it once the final Physics exam has been completed. Wetsuit manufacturers have been making the most of this basic physics principle for decades. It’s not your wetsuit that keeps you warm, it’s the thin layer of water trapped between your skin and the wetsuit that you can thank for keeping you toasty and snug 90 feet deep off Vancouver Island.
The water that seeps into your suit during the first few minutes of your dive absorbs the heat energy emanating from your skin as you fin. Your body heat quickly warms the water layer, and Trident's innovative sealing features ensure it won’t flush. Water also has a large “thermal sink”, which means a large amount of thermal energy can be absorbed by a relatively small mass of fluid. In wetsuit applications, the water in your suit becomes a thermal reservoir, heating up during periods of hard exercise then transmitting this stored thermal energy back to you when you’re less active. Not only does this water layer keep you warm, it also helps keep you comfortable. If your suit didn’t have this water layer, then the neoprene material could cause a “squeeze” (the painful trapping of a diver’s skin in a material fold whilst descending…Ouch!).
As you descend into the darker depths, neoprene becomes less effective as a thermal insulator as it is very porous and so susceptible to pressure changes. The deeper you dive, the thinner your suit becomes (e.g.: an 8.5mm wetsuit can compress to only 3.6mm thick at 150 feet deep). The good news is that the layer of deliciously warm water caressing your skin remains the same. Result: you stay warm, even at depth.