Section 1.74: Alpaca Compared to Cotton, Bamboo, or Linen

Alpaca are renowned for producing the world’s most sustainable luxury fiber. Alpaca Fiber can be eco-friendly, softer than cashmere, and warm as polar bear fleece.

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Cotton, Bamboo, and Linen Compared with Alpaca Fiber

Alpaca Fiber Compared to Cotton

 The cotton shrub is native to tropical and semi-tropical environments of America, India, and Africa. It produces breathable, wearable textiles, with good strength and durability. Cotton is often blended into other fibers to provide strength and softness. Cotton is lightweight, relatively soft, inexpensive, and widely available. However, pesticides and herbicides are generally needed in substantial quantities to competitively grow cotton crops. While organic cotton is now on the scene, it is both rare and expensive.

Alpaca Fiber Compared to Bamboo

Bamboo is classified as a grass and, unlike trees which can take decades to grow to maturity, bamboo is very fast-growing, reaching harvestable size within four to five years. To make fiber from bamboo, the bamboo is heavily “pulped” until it separates into long, thin component threads, that can then be spun and dyed.

  • Bamboo fiber is exceptionally soft and light, with a silky feel. This makes it breathable and cool to wear, and it absorbs more moisture than other more conventional fibers, such as cotton and polyester.
  • Bamboo is very sustainable to grow, as it does not require the use of pesticides and grows very quickly under favorable conditions.
  • Bamboo fiber is more anti-static than other types of fabric and also tends to perform better when it comes to odor control, as it has a natural deodorizing property.
  • Bamboo is similar to finely bleached viscose with respect to the fineness and “whiteness” of its fibers. It is also very strong and durable, with excellent ability to withstand abrasion. Bamboo possesses many qualities that make it perfect to spin. 

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Alpaca Fiber Compared to Linen 

Linen textiles are made from flax plants, which are grown in many parts of the world, although Western Europe is historically known for growing and producing the highest quality linens. Linen has long been renowned for its durability and long life. Silica present in the flax fiber protects linen against rotting. The mummies of Egyptian Pharaohs, preserved to the present day, are wrapped in the finest linen cloth. The tensile strength of linen thread is twice as high as that of cotton and three times that of wool. Linen possesses rare bacteriological properties, making it resistant to fungus and bacteria and, as a result, it is found to be an effective barrier to some diseases. For example, according to medical studies conducted by Japanese researchers, bed-ridden patients do not develop bedsores where linen bed sheets are used. 

  • Linen fibers are very long, with the finest fibers measuring 12 to 20 inches in length. Linen fibers, however, have poor elasticity and linen fabrics wrinkle easily.
  • Linen is hypoallergenic and is helpful in actually treating a number of allergic disorders.
  • Linen is highly “hygroscopic.” as it is capable of rapidly absorbing and also yielding moisture. Linen can absorb as much as 20% of its dry weight in moisture, which explains why linen clothing tends to feel fresh and cool.
  • Linen scores high in air permeability and heat conductivity properties. The heat conductivity of linen is five times that of wool and 19 times that of silk. As a result, in hot weather, those dressed in linen clothes tend to have skin temperatures that are 3°- 4°C lower than those of their cotton-wearing friends. According to some studies, a person wearing linen clothing perspires 1.5 times less than when dressed in comparable cotton clothing and two times less than when dressed in viscose clothes. In cold weather linen is an ideal insulator.
  • Linen’s smooth surface and luster is pleasant to the touch and naturally rejects dirt. With repeated washings linen becomes softer and smoother. 

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