Antarctic adventure with Merino wool

7 August 2014

Adventurer Ewan Blyth always wears Merino wool base layers, especially on his kayaking trips to the Antarctic Ocean.

Adventurer Ewan Blyth wearing Merino wool base layers, on his kayaking trip to the Antarctic Ocean.Antarctica is the world’s coldest and windiest continent. It has the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever recorded on the surface on Earth -89.2 °C and satellites have recorded even lower temperatures, down to –93.2 °C.

Even in the summer months when tourists visit the coastal regions of the continent to see the spectacular scenery and wildlife, temperatures rarely get above freezing. So it’s important to pick equipment and clothing that will keep you warm and safe.

Tasmanian born and raised Ewan Blyth has first-hand experience of the region - and always wears Merino wool baselayer apparel when he’s working there. As a sea kayaking guide for a commercial tour operator, he spends a lot of the tourist season guiding his clients around the wild coastlines, with just a few millimetres of the kayak’s plastic bottom between him and the ice soup of the ocean.

“I wouldn’t wear any other baselayer than Merino wool in these environments,” Ewan says. “As well as feeling comfy next to the skin, their temperature and moisture management properties are ideal for this sort of outdoor activity. We quite often get sweaty or might get wet from splash, and a breeze from the Antarctic can cool you down very quickly. But Merino wool tends to keep you warm even when it’s damp.

“The garments are resilient and easy to care for, but as a lot of people are saying, I think their greatest attribute is that they don’t stink, even after wearing them for a number of days. I have used synthetic base layers in the past which can start to smell after just a few hours, but I can wear my Merino on extended sea kayaking trips and still smell pretty fresh at the end of it. The Merino feels more comfortable than synthetics too.”

In the winter off-season, Ewan travels to other parts of the world - all of them warmer than Antarctica, but each of them having their own climatic challenges. But Ewan’s Merino wool gear goes everywhere he goes.

“As an outdoors professional who spends so much time with Mother Nature in all her seasons, I am continually reminded how important good gear is. Whether I'm paddling in Antarctica, sailing Bass Strait, rafting the Franklin River, canyoning in Japan or hiking in the mountains of Vietnam, I know my Merino base layers are looking after me. For many expeditions I have literally lived in them - paddled, eaten, hiked and slept in them for days on end and still they refuse to smell!”

Ewan wears Merino apparel produced by Tasmanian company Smitten Merino, which is an AWI activewear brand partner.

The company sources fabric made from 100 per cent superfine Merino wool grown in Tasmania and the Australian mainland.

“I was first attracted to Merino wool base layers about five year ago, when the outdoor apparel industry was transitioning to the fibre, so I thought I’d get involved. Being from Tasmania myself, I thought I’d try Smitten’s range and I’ve been really pleased with their products. It’s also important to me to support a local company using a local natural fibre - Merino wool."