Buying your first woven wrap – deciding what to buy – can often be the most intimating part of wrapping. There is a startling array of different brands, blends and designs. It can be terrifying to work out where to start! ‘Woven FAQ’ is my attempt to answer some of the questions I am asked the most by people buying their 1st wrap, and to cover the most important points to consider.
Second in the series is:
What does gsm mean? How thick or thin is that?
Gsm stands for "grams per square meter" and is a measurement of density. For woven wraps, the gsm gives and idea of how thick or thin the wrap is - how much a wrap weighs as a proportion of its size and width. Generally speaking;
- less than 180 gsm = really thin
- 180 - 220 gsm = thin
- 220 - 260 gsm = medium
- 260 - 300 gsm = thick
- greater than 300 gsm = really thick
One way to easily visualise this to compare knot sizes - the thicker the wrap the bigger the knot!
For a first wrap, I would start with a thin-medium wrap, something in the 200-260 gsm range. Thicker wraps are generally tougher to tighten if your new to wrapping and a bit inundating with a little baby. They do have their advantages - thicker wraps are often more supportive and can be more forgiving of a sloppy wrap job, but the extra thickness and weight can be a bit warm and get in the way while you're learning or feel like your wrestling to get the wrap done up in the first place! Conversely, while very thin wraps are much cooler they can require you to be very precise in your technique to prevent the wrap either digging or sagging, especially as your child grows... so something in the middle gives you the best of both worlds and should work well all the way from tiny baby to bigger child.
That said gsm isn't the be all and end all, the weave of a wrap can have a big impact too. At 260 gsm my Firespiral alchemy weave Librarian is right at the upper end of midweight but its loose weave means it behaves like a thinner wrap - easy to tighten, very comfy and very breathable, so not at all hot. In fact while in general thinner wraps will feel cooler than thicker wraps, weave can play just as an important role ... i.e. my Didymos Lisca and my Girasol Earthy Rainbow are both 215 gsm but the Lisca with its herringbone weave feels like a smooshy warm blanket while the Girasol feels thinner and cooler.
Finally, when considering thickness, consider also your chosen length and what you intend to do with this wrap. If you are getting a base size wrap to do carries with multiple passes around you and baby, err on the thinner side as those extra wraps around each of you will heat you up! However, if your going for a shorter wrap - thicker wraps are stronger and will feel more supportive in a single layer carry like a simple ruck.
(Note all gsm quoted above are measured by me post wash and wear. Wraps do shrink a little after their first wash and in fact stretch out with use and spring back in the wash,.. so true gsm will fluctuate a little and may well differ from the loom state gsm published by the manufacturer. I.e. Didymos Rosalinde is quoted at 180gsm but post wash and wear it measures at 190gsm).