Smartwool’s research on how men’s and women’s bodies sweat will inform every layer the brand makes from here on out.
VF Corp, Smartwool’s parent company, funded the first extensive “body-mapping” study several years ago. Now, Smartwool is applying an important insight — where we sweat — to base layers, outerwear, and wool-blended pieces that work in the warm season. The new Merino Sport is one collection featuring the signature body- and sweat-mapping technology.
Most people think about wool in winter, and rightly so. But the brand is proving that the natural fiber works very efficiently in warm weather, especially when garments are combined with other materials mapped to the body’s sweat patterns.
Body mapping has become the foundation of everything Smartwool designs, according to VP of Product Anne Wiper. “It’s amazing to use what we know about socks and align it with the science of body mapping,” she said.
The new Merino Sport collection has been years in the making. After applying sensors to testers’ bodies, Smartwool looked at digital body-mapping results, which used colors to denote various heat zones on men and women. The brand studied how men and women heat up and perspire differently. But it also compared that research to places on the body that men and women perceived to be hot.
They didn’t always match up.
For example, both men and women perceive that they are the hottest on their head and upper back. But in reality, body sensors showed interesting discrepancies.
People are correct about being warmer on their heads. But for men, the real heat zones run down the full center of the back and on the top of the shoulders. For women, the lower center back also is a hot zone, even though most women don’t perceive that area to be hot.
By understanding specific sweat zones, or areas where men and women perspire uniquely from head to toe, Smartwool can now build mesh and other blended natural fibers into those heat zones to allow the body to breathe better.
The Merino Sport collection is a great example of putting this intelligence into action. Layers in this Smartwool series use heat zoning in a single layer you might wear for trail running or mountain biking, for example, to help your body work more efficiently in warm weather.
“In a high-sweat environment [hot weather, high aerobic output, or both], you can move moisture with a 56-percent wool and 44-percent polyester blend. It dries more quickly and is more stable, factors that work well in different climates,” Wiper said. “Using body mapping, we piece in meshed fabric by zones, by gender, where it makes sense.”
In ultralight activewear styles, such as shells made for movement, Smartwool has paneling with wool under the arms and in a vent on the back.
Smartwool is already using hot and cold body-mapping technology by blending fabrics in cut-and-sew garments and knit socks.
But the brand’s research and technology doesn’t stop there. Body mapping applies to socks, layers, and even outerwear, a category that Smartwool will continue to expand in.
Wiper said Smartwool is poised to do “all kinds of crazy things going forward,” and we’re excited to see what crazy looks like.