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July 2020

Alpaca mattresses; are they the best natural fibre bed?

Alpaca is one of the softest premium mattress fibres used in high-end mattress manufacturer, it is an incredibly fine fibre and allows for fantastic temperature regulation. Alpaca is super soft to the touch, high wicking and requires far less processing compared to wool. It is one of the most luxurious fillings, used in high-end mattress upholstery and bedding products. Let us explain why natural Alpaca fibres are now being used in top-end mattresses.

British Alpaca is the rarest of all-natural mattress fibres and can only be found from a few independent Alpaca keepers here in Britain. We’ve worked for years to source an independent Alpaca farm to supply our fibres.

Super soft and luxurious for the most decadent sleep experience

If you want to know more about this luxury mattress fibre then read on.

Benefits of Alpaca Fibre Mattress

The benefits of Alpaca has everything to do with the beautiful creatures that produce it and the conditions they have evolved to survive in. Alpacas are native to the hills of South America where temperatures can plummet to the minus and also raise into the higher degrees. Their coat has to account for both heat retention in colder times but also be incredibly thermally efficient in warmer temperatures. They really are always dressed for all seasons with just one coat!

Uk Alpaca farm
British Alpacas help keep the carbon footprint of this fibre low

The wool itself has fewer scales on the cuticle than sheep wool. This means its softer to the touch as the fibre itself is smoother. You can actually see this when you compare the fibres under a microscope. If you want to know even more about wool fibres (such as what is a cuticle, cortex or medulla) then please read our post here.

This makes Alpaca hypoallergenic and their fibre doesn’t itch, which pure sheep wool is commonly known to do when used in jumpers and clothing.

Alpaca wool has a micron of 16—18, which is the diameter of the fibre. Making it incredibly fine compared to other fibres. It has an average length of 8-12cm, known as the staple length, rather than coarser wool which can range from 20-35 microns. This coupled with the minimal fibre scales is the key to the zero itch that is felt with Alpaca wool.

British Alpaca Wool

You simply won’t find Alpaca fibres in a run of the mill bed retailer, let alone British Alpaca, because of its price and limited quantity. You can count the Alpaca farmers in the UK on one hand. They are passionate, small-scale Alpaca farmers who care greatly about their alpacas and the wool which is a byproduct of their annual shearing. We are the first mattress retailer to produce a British Alpaca mattress with our Legacy mattress. This is why it’s known as the UK’s finest mattress.

Some of the girls that produce our Alpaca fibre
Alpaca fleece is able to cope with both subzero temperatures and also be breathable to cope with heatweaves

The Alpacas are sheared once a year by specialist shearers, due to the soft loft of the fleece it is a very specialist skill. The fibres are then processed, cleaned and then needled onto cotton pads for use in our luxury topper and comfort layers.

What makes Alpaca an excellent mattress upholstery layer

Alpaca makes an excellent comfort layer in a natural fibre mattress due to the softness of the fibres. It’s also incredibly high wicking meaning that it regulates extremes of temperature highly efficiently. This helps reduce temperature fluctuations for sleepers during the night. Its robust and resilient leading to years of comfort and support in a hand made mattress.

Artisan Bespoke 003 Coir & Alpaca mattress
Our Artisan Bespoke 003 features Alpaca as the comfort layer along with Bamboo & Coir

Alpaca should be used primarily in the top layers of both mattress and mattress topper construction. Placing it way down in a mattress or base pad can reduce the benefits of this fibre. You are better off with horsehair or more resistant wool layer further down the mattress. Due to Alpacas softness is has a low rebound level, meaning it is better suited as a top pad layer for comfort than support. It would be simply wasted as an insulator or lower layer. Why waste such an incredible fibre down there! It’s always worthwhile checking the GSM and the position of the Alpaca pad to ensure you’re getting the best benefit from your Alpaca mattress.

Alpaca is the finest upholstery fibre making it super soft
Alpaca is the finest upholstery fibre making it super soft
It's also incredibly high wicking helping to keep you cool at night
It's also incredibly high wicking helping to keep you cool at night

How much is an Alpaca Mattress?

Entry-level models simply can’t afford to use Alpaca. You won’t find natural Alpaca fibre in a sub £2000 mattress due to the supply chain and expense. If you do, we would be dubious. We’ve written extensively about terms such as ‘contains natural fibres’ or ‘includes natural fibres’. Some manufacturers have been known to mix a few fibres with other fibres to claim it then contains Alpaca. Remembering the difference between knowing the GSM vs just a few rogue fibres that are thrown in with some other white fibres. It’s scandalous but has been known to happen. Thats why you won’t find a true Alpaca mattress for less than £2000 in a kingsize.

Our two models that use Alpaca upholstery are:

Artisan Bespoke Alpaca Mattress
Artisan Bespoke 003 features 2000GSM of Luxury Alpaca wool

Our Artisan Sublime mattress is our softer sink super deep hand made mattress. Featuring 3 rows of genuine hand side stitching and 100% Natural breathable fibres.

artisan sublime full bed
Our Softest Luxury Hand Made Mattress. The Artisan Sublime.

By asking what the GSM is you can work out whether it’s a completely natural fibre layer, such as in our Artisan ranges or a blend with other cheaper, sometimes synthetic fibres. If a retailer can’t say for sure, we advise you walk away.

What’s the best Alpaca Mattress?

The best Alpaca mattresses will combine:

  • A calico encased pocket spring, that’s tailored for your bodyweight.
  • With at minimum a total upholstery GSM of 3000.
  • Alpaca should be used in a minimum of 1000GSM in the comfort layer.
  • A two-sided mattress model that can be turned and rotated.

Any less than this mattress specification and the mattress is only paying lip service to those incredible comfort fibre.

Calico pocket springs in a soft spring tension
An Alpaca mattress must be paired with a calico encased vanadium pocket spring. These are the highest quality breathable tailored spring. Always check Alpaca is not paired with the cheaper synthetic version.

Artisan Bespoke 003 – Medium feel Alpaca Mattress

Our Artisan Bespoke 003 is our first Alpaca model. Featuring a lofty 5300GSM of 100% Natural fibres and 1000GSM of Alpaca it is our highest specification mattress. Each of the natural layers enables this mattress to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The soft Alpaca comfort layer is both high wicking and breathable for a perfect nights sleep. This is a true medium feel mattress with a dual spring tension for zero mattress transference and independent support.

Artisan Bespoke 003 logo
Our Artisan Bespoke 003 is a medium feel Alpaca 100% Natural fibre mattress. Click to view.

Artisan Sublime – Soft Feel Alpaca Mattress

We then have the divine Artisan Sublime alpaca mattress; a first of a kind soft Alpaca filled natural fibre mattress. Hand Made here in the UK for the ultimate in a soft sink mattress with progressive support. All fine-tuned for your exact bodyweight and sleeping preferences.

Artisan Sublime close
The Artisan Sublime is a soft sink 100% Natural Alpaca Mattress. Click to view.

When looking at other mattresses with Alpaca fibre in be sure to as what the GSM is. If a retailer can’t tell you then look elsewhere. We have written extensively about blended fibres and rogue practices which mean that by adding 1% of a natural fibre a retailer can claim ‘contains natural fibres’ which we find scandalous!

What’s the difference between an Alpaca and a Llama?

  • Alpacas are far smaller than Llamas
  • Alpacas have smaller ears Llamas have banana-shaped larger ears
  • Llamas fleece is much more coarse
  • Llamas are used as a carrying animal in their native South America
  • Alpacas are bred solely for their fleece and not their meat
Summary

Alpaca fleece is the softest natural fibre available and is hugely beneficial for warmer sleepers due to its high wicking. It provides a soft luxurious feel to the comfort layer of a mattress. Unlike synthetic fibres and foam, it has an incredible rebound rate. Due to the limited supply and specialists skill set to sheer Alpacas, it is classed as a premium fibre. By choosing a mattress that contains Alpaca you’re moving away from the mass-produced mid-range models and into high-end mattress manufacture.

 

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