Why Wear Wool?
Nature's Sustainable Choice
Today's trendy outdoor-gear market is flooded with high-tech synthetic clothing, only some companies offer wool, much less sustainable wool clothing. Goretex seemed promising, until users realized its approximate 2-year lifespan. And for environmentally conscious consumers the ingredients in modern high-tech materials (often made from petroleum) are more than troubling. Must a nature hike, camping trip, canoe or raft excursion, or other wilderness adventure necessitate short-lived yet expensive synthetic gear? Of course not! Traditional cultures lived constantly in nature's "elements" and never had these types of clothing; there's no good reason anyone today needs them either.
So then, what shall environmentally concious adventure seekers wear? Wool!
Reasons to wear wool:
- a natural and sustainable fiber
- retains warmth when wet
- dries quickly (and never gets truly wet like cotton)
- makes no noise (great for hunters)
- requires no killing of animals (contrary to leather)
- can be knitted tightly or loosely (allowing for many styles)
- lasts a lifetime
- all garments are made in wool: hats/toboggans, scarfs, shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, socks, gloves, and even long underwear!
New to the world of wool and wonder where to start? Hats, scarfs, and sweaters are generally the cheapest and easiest to find. Thrift stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army are always worth checking. This avenue lets one experience the wonders of wool without much investment. And one little known tip about buying used wool: Look for garments such as sweaters and button-ups one size bigger than the usual - wool shrinks! Used wool garments, then, are "pre-shrunk," makes them perhaps even more valuable than a new wool garment.
Once convinced, many extend their wool wardrobe into the finer knit garments. Heavy button-up shirts are a personal favorite, offering the warmth of a sweatshirt with the versatility for work, play, and even church or other formal gathering. Wool socks are a must, boasting warmth, breathability, and a "wicking" action that keeps feet dry from sweat. And also included in that "wicking" group is long underwear. Other serious wearers find that one and only lifetime pair of pants, packing all the above mentioned benefits and superior to most any synthetic outdoor pants.
While these serious items often come with serious price tags, view the purchase as a solid investment unlikely to ever fail. Some of the oldest and most rugged outdoor clothing companies make outstanding wool products, the most popular being: Filson, Woolrich, Pendleton, and (the newer and lesser known) Ibex.
While many are discovering this material for the first time, the US Army embraced it long ago. Many of their products are still found at army surplus stores, jackets, pants, and even blankets to name a few. And best of all, these will be much easier on the wallet.
Whatever garment(s) one is able to acquire, all should take comfort in the many benefits of wool. Wear it proudly, grateful to have entered into a timeless tradition of age-old value. Happy wearing!