Llama fiber’s ability to maintain a constant level of water vapor accounts for its dependable protection in weather extremes.
To understand the reasons for llama fiber’s superior protection, these topics are addressed in this series of discussions:
Observation of llamas living on the altiplano and in use as pack animals demonstrates the function of their fiber and the versatile protection they enjoy.
The altiplano is an extremely high (+/- 3500 m.=+/- 12,000’) desert plain with daily year-round temperature fluctuations of 40o-50o F. Llamas thrive in this climate. Our llamas here in Colorado tolerate seasonal extremes of -25oF in winter to 100oF in the summer while the daily fluctuations are typically around 30o-40o F. On days spent packing and working, llamas produce sweat that vaporizes and wicks away through the fleece. Dampness under the saddle pad that impedes moisture dispersion is the only evidence of liquid perspiration. Their packing performance is unaffected whether in sub-zero mountain temperatures or +95oF desert temperatures.
Llamas wear the same fleece in these varying conditions and readily tolerate either extreme. This demonstrates spatial insulation and loft play a minor role. Otherwise, the layers that protect them at the low temperatures would be too warm at the upper temps and vice versa. The conclusion is that the thermoregulation results from a constantly maintained level of water vapor in their fiber that holds latent heat during cold conditions and dissipates excess moisture and its latent heat as temperatures and exertion rise.
Since we started wearing llama fiber, we have noted we travel lighter and better prepared for weather extremes commonly encountered on the trail. We now enjoy the same comfort and versatility as our llamas because we understand and employ the advantages their fiber provides. These principles govern our clothing designs and fabric development. We use 100% llama fiber in our products including linings and pocket bags and recognize blending llama with synthetic fibers causes serious compromise. We advocate careful consideration in selecting and sequencing layers when layering with garments made from other fibers to avoid diminishing or impeding the performance of Altiplano garments. Personal comfort is optimized when llama fiber is allowed to perform unhindered by the low performance fibers commonly used in today’s clothing industry.
Watch our video to see how llama fiber's extraordinary wicking ability is one of the many attributes that make it a superior material for use in outdoor protective clothing.