For many years, I’ve been searching to find the best wool clothing on the planet. Working in the wilderness full time means I need a clothing fiber that works in wide range of temperatures and rough conditions. Clothing choice is a huge consideration when purchasing equipment for work because it means the difference in being comfortable and miserable. Because we train in all kinds of terrible conditions. I’ve gone through and purchased numerous cheaper options that were available and was still un-satisfied with the performance. Like many people I believed that cheap wool items can provide as good of performance of the more expensive stuff. Oh how I was wrong. Its a mistake I’ve made many times over the years when purchasing new equipment.
I get it, everyone always wants the best deal and so do I. But when deals don’t exist in high grade performance fabrics, what else are you to do but open your wallet and take the hit. If you need it for your lifestyle then it’s an investment in your life. Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that it is better to skip buying all the cheap shit and just use what the professionals use. Buy once, cry once and have something that is so high quality you can give it to your kids in twenty years. Then I came across weatherwool products and immediately became hooked. I’ve been using my WeatherWool Anorak for around a year and half now, and it quickly became my favorite piece of clothing. And not just for outdoors use, I wear my anorak probably around a 100 days a year to social and urban events as well as hardcore trips into the wilderness. That is why I’m so passionate about this piece of equipment versus the other wool outer wear I own. Because it doesn’t hang in my closet most of the year until the really cold days hit. I will wear my weatherwool in 75 degree weather on the regular. It has the best temperature regulation and softest feel of any wool garment on the market.
It’s something I can wear right next to my skin with no need for base layers to protect me from the scratchy fibers on my skin. Rough wool directly on the skin over extended periods of time can cause a significant rash and itching in many people. And I am one of those people. WeatherWool is the wool for people that don’t like wool.
What wool outdoor gear I currently own?
- Two weather wool anoraks $575 I liked this piece of equipment so much, I got two of them. Olive drab and duff brown (like coyote brown) in two different sizes. This is by far my favorite piece of outdoor apparel and the thing I wear more than anything. If you were going to start with a piece of weatherwool, this is where I’d start.
- Weatherwool full weight pants $500- These pants will be used less often because they are so warm. But the benefit to having weatherwool fabric for pants is that you don’t need to wear base layers with them. Unlike other garments that have rough wool and will irritate the skin. And don’t forget that if they put a cotton liner over the wool then you’ll regret that purchase when you get wet. Cotton and wool don’t mix at all, so don’t choose a wool brand that uses cotton, linings, or cheap wool.
- Weatherwool Gaiter $65- This is a very useful piece of equipment that can be used in conjunction with the anorak to keep more heat inside the wool. Your neck is an area where blood is close to the skin and it cools quicker there. You can help prevent that heat loss from the upper torso with a merino wool gaiter. Its two layers and can be extended out by itself to make a 5′ length that can be used as a scarf as well. Very versatile piece of equipment for those colder days.
- Weatherwool Mouton Vest $1200- Mouton is the single warmest clothing material I’ve ever experienced to date. Combine this item with the weatherwool anorak, and you have something that is extremely warm. But regulates heat so well, you can keep it on in the house if you want too. And it’s luxurious enough to be worn in any five star establishment. I was blown away at how warm the Weatherwool Mouton clothing items were and instantly fell in love with them. In fact, I’m obsessed with this weatherwool mouton line of clothing. It is simply the softest sheep’s skin you’ll ever feel. They have a process for only selecting the top 1% of all mouton pelts and use them in the lining of the vest and jacket. So that means you have leather and wool combined into one jacket. Meaning the leather stops the wind and the wool keeps you warm. The one big downside to wool is that it’s porous and doesn’t stop the wind as well without a shell. So the combination of leather and the best wool fiber on the planet means some serious luxury warmth. And I get it, they are ridiculously expensive. But here is the deal, you would think there is a big markup on these items. But in fact they are the lowest margin item they have and they spend all the money on top quality material. These clothes have been tested around the arctic circle at Camp Sargo by the military and had fantastic results you can read here Camp Sargo Weatherwool Testing.
- Columbia Gallatin Range Wool $150- I own every single piece they offer in this line. Good stuff, but not even close to 100% wool. It has numerous cotton elements in it such as liners, cotton in the fabric, mixed with fleece. And in general it is a very very cheap woolen product. Its marketed like a quality wool product, but it’s really not. I had numerous buttons pop off at un-opportune times. But if you are on an extreme budget, they are a suitable option for people looking to get into wool.
- Empire Wool and Canvas Camp Coat $345- This is a very hardy jacket with well built buttons and is mid priced in comparison to other models mentioned. But the wool is extremely rough and I don’t like wearing it without a long shirt underneath. It also doesn’t fit that well around the shoulders due to the design. I actually wore my cheap columbia way more often than this jacket. Like the Lester River Shirt, it is made of cheap military wool blankets. You’re paying more for tailoring than you are the quality of the wool.
- Lester River Boreal Shirt $285– This is probably the single most popular wool Anorak in the survival industry at the moment. And like any other gear whore would, I went ahead and bought one due to the hype. And it is a solid piece of equipment, as long as you wear base layers under it. Its a very rough wool, so it’s not enjoyable to wear without base layers. I also don’t like that it has no options to vent heat out. It has no size zips like the WW Anorak, and it has an annoying piece of material that goes over the neck area, that restricts cooling greatly. I would have preferred they left that neck shield off, because I’d rather have the option to wear a gaiter if it gets colder. Heat regulation when active is everything in cold environments. I do however like the hand warmer pockets because they have segmented pockets for organizing items.
- King of the Mountain Hooded Sweat Shirt $620- I got this item in a trade from a good friend. And it turned out to be a solid piece of wool, but it was very expensive and the wool was still really rough. I don’t think you can appreciate wool until you’ve used a really soft 100% wool garment. You won’t go back to the rough wool. This item was used in winter, but that was about the only time. Whereas I’d wear my weatherwool almost year round.
So what are we looking for in the Best Wool Anorak?
Temperature Regulation- This is one of the most important features to me. If i’m constantly sweating in a garment because it has no venting options, that means i’ll be much colder later when I slow down due to moisture on my skin. So it’s important to find a wool garment that allows you to vent heat out. Its nice to have a garment you can wear in the city as well.
Softness- If you the wool isn’t comfortable to wear against your skin. Chances are you will wear it a lot less. Meaning you spent a substantial amount of money on an item you rarely use. Anytime you make a major clothing purchase you need that item to be versatile and have many uses in your life. Otherwise why are you buying? To hang in the closet?
Durability- Any expensive wool purchase must have durability and ruggedness. Otherwise, why even choose wool? Durability is in large part determined by the weave of the fabric, the thickness of the fiber, layering, and choosing farms that don’t allow poly bags on their farm because it weakens the wool.
Fire Resistance-This is important to us as bushcrafter, hikers, or camp cooks. Because we have to have a fire for food and warmth. Even if it’s only to heat some water up to make a mountain house meal. Synthetic materials get destroyed extremely easily with even sparks from a fire. I have a down jacket that looks like swiss cheese in certain areas because of all the holes from fire sparks.
Water shedding- Last but not least is the ability of the wool to shed water in a downpour. Wool never really becomes soaked because it is coated with oils. The moisture can reside in the fabric though until it dries out. But even when soaked the wool retains 80% of insulation abilities. So it doesn’t really matter if you get wet in cold weather. Won’t take long with activity to warm back up. Taken it from someone that has fallen through ice in the winter and wish I had wool. Wool can be very heavy when wet, so you want a wool that has a really tight weave so that water doesn’t come through. Weatherwool uses a jacquard loom, that stacks layers of wool and gives it greater durability and a tighter weave, which is good for blocking wind and rain.
WeatherWool Refund policy: You can have any garment they offer shipped to your house and you can try it on and use it for awhile. Don’t like it, send it back and they will give you a full refund. You can also sell your older WeatherWool clothes back to them and use them as credits for other purchases. Name one outdoor clothing company that does that? I’m still waiting, Lol. So it’s basically a no risk purchase as long as you can afford it. Because I guarantee you won’t return it after you try it. They are a small niche company trying to make a name for themselves by just simply making the highest quality wool you can get. They don’t do anything else but premium wool!
Conclusion: There are a ton of solid wool products out there to choose from. From military surplus, to hunting brands, and thrift stores. But none of them are going to have a soft wool that is non scratchy and is also something you’ll want to wear in public as well as the woods. In fact, there aren’t really any outdoor options for a soft wool that is nice to wear next to your skin. Pretty much everyone else uses run of the mill wool fibers and no one has taken quality of fabric to the next level like WeatherWool has done. And since the price is the same as many of their high end competitors, then why go with anything else. Its good for urban and wilderness, looks luxurious, comes with a full refund if you don’t like it, and impeccable customer service.