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12/11/2018 1:58:31 AM
11/9/2018 9:21:38 PM
Posted: 2/13/2016 11:16:14 AM EST
A few years ago, I picked up a number of surplus, high quality European military wool blankets. I do not use them much, but keep them tucked away should there be a power outage, and we get really cold. Wool is considered the gold standard according to most posts I read, but I'd like to get some views on their pro's and cons.

Almost every day, I wear a light fleece columbia zip up sweater. They last for a few years, are inexpensive, light, and reasonably rugged. They are not windproof though, so they are warm but need a shell or no wind to be comfortable. I use fleece blankets too, every night. I have a fleece blanket that is already 22 years old, that was left behind by my old room mate when I inherited it in college. It is still in use for the guest bedroom.

The pro's of the fleece are light weight, warm, inexpensive, and they wash and dry very easily. When I take them out of my washer on the spin cycle they are almost dry already.

Wool would stand up to more abuse, but they are also heavy and more costly. Unlike fleece, if you used them around a campfire, a stray ember would not melt a hole in them (as has happened with my fleece sweater). Wool can supposedly retain insulation even when wet, but I have not tried this. But I will say that when I tried to wash my wool blanket, they became so heavy when soaked that the washer almost destroyed itself due to the weight of the wet blanket on the spin cycle. If the fleece blanket holds so little water, would that not be a plus?

My grandparents had basic wool blankets we inherited as teens. They did last many years, but over time were destroyed by moths. You would take them out of a drawer for winter use and find small holes in them. We kept a decent house, I never even saw moths, but somehow they did their dirty work.

I have used Target and Walmart brand fleece blankets that run from $10 to $20 and work very well. If I had to use them on the ground and outdoors, I would add some type of tarp or shell, since the fleece has a light and fuzzy weave that would get tore up more if used right on the dirt.

What are your thoughts on wool vs. fleece? Does wool work better for rugged out door use, and fleece for indoors? One can purchase 3 or 4 light fleece blankets for the cost and weight of one or two wool ones.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 12:41:22 PM EST
What are your thoughts on wool vs. fleece? Does wool work better for rugged out door use, and fleece for indoors? One can purchase 3 or 4 light fleece blankets for the cost and weight of one or two wool ones.
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For me, that pretty much sums it up. If I am having power issues and need blankets indoors, fleece is what I use. Around campfire, wool.

Doc
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 3:24:14 PM EST
You pretty much hit all the important stuff.

Given the advantages and limits of each, we just pick what fits our needs.

I couldn't say one is better than the other. Just different.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 4:51:32 PM EST
Never thought about fleece for indoors.
if I am home and the power and heat are out, I layer up and pull comforters and regular blankets off the beds or out of storage
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 5:19:21 PM EST
Wool is amazing if you get wet. Yes, it gets very heavy, but it still insulates.
It seems to drain / drip dry pretty well, also.

I remember as a kid, wearing wool sweaters and leggings when sailing/racing dingys.
Always bloody wet, but stayed pretty warm.
The extra weight (water) helped when hanging on a trapeze, too.

Also relatively flameproof, too.
IIRC, back in the day, Fireman's turn-out gear was made from wool.
Now replaced by Kevlar / aramid and other synthetics, probably lighter and tougher ?
I'm sure some here can verify /correct me on that.

I sort of remember that my father had wool tunic / uniform when he served in WW2.
Sort of stayed warm in the mud and blood.

Growing up in NZ, where everything is / was wool, and it was cheap - homegrown, no cotton, no plastic trees there.
I had wool shirts, pants, socks, coats, hats, gloves. Even wool suits. Cheap and tough.
But wash it wrong and XXL becomes XXS very easily.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 6:00:40 PM EST
Outdoors - wool.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 8:07:19 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Ridgerunner9876:
You pretty much hit all the important stuff.

Given the advantages and limits of each, we just pick what fits our needs.

I couldn't say one is better than the other. Just different.
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+1. They both have their places. I spend a lot of time outdoors and use much of both. I would say when comparing my fleece vs wool gear, I have more fleece, because it cost significantly less.

Merino wool bled socks are a must though. I can get away with a cotton poly blend while at work at my desk, but anything outdoors and I want at least 50% merino wool.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 8:33:22 PM EST
I spend hours outside 6 days a week and am a die hard merino wool convert. I get wet from sweat fairly often and its continued insulation during those times prevented certain misery.

I recently got a hold of some 500 weight merino wool blankets and they are simply awesome.
Link Posted: 2/13/2016 10:19:46 PM EST
Blankets: You are talking about use in mild temps.
For serious cold you need a sleeping bag.

Wool works when wet as does fleece, which is important in clothing,
but seriously, if you are talking about sleeping in a wet blanket, you have done something wrong,
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 1:46:42 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By JBT:
Blankets: You are talking about use in mild temps.
For serious cold you need a sleeping bag.

Wool works when wet as does fleece, which is important in clothing,
but seriously, if you are talking about sleeping in a wet blanket, you have done something wrong,
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Lots of guys are moving away from bags since the bottom is useless, pretty much. It's squashed flat so you're carrying weight you're not getting use out of.

I have an issue that most of the back packing bags don't go around me any more. So, I just open it up and use it like a quilt. (NF Blue Kazoo) Worked fine down to about 25*

The nice thing about fleece is it dries a lot quicker than wool and can be wrung out easier not to mention being much lighter.

I do like my wool, though.
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Link Posted: 2/14/2016 3:12:10 PM EST
I'd go wool.

I think fleece is actually made out of cotton? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, one of those "mink" blankets from Korea on the other hand…I've got one but hardly ever bring it out because it's just too damn hot under it. Not sure how it is if it gets wet because it's not really mink per se but I think it's actually made out of acrylic/polyester.
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 4:19:00 PM EST
No, modern "fleece" is typically made from recycled plastic. It's a type of synthetic.

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Sweep:
I'd go wool.

I think fleece is actually made out of cotton? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, one of those "mink" blankets from Korea on the other hand…I've got one but hardly ever bring it out because it's just too damn hot under it. Not sure how it is if it gets wet because it's not really mink per se but I think it's actually made out of acrylic/polyester.
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Link Posted: 2/14/2016 5:28:14 PM EST
I live by wool and cashmere sweaters, also wool pants and coats, I get them at the thrift store, I have so many I never pay more than 2 bucks for a sweater or pants, no more than 5 for a coat.

If you are home and the power goes out, I would look into a way to heat the house first, other than that it probably does not matter wool or synthetic.

Fleece dries faster, maybe if you are doing something not really cold where you might get wet it's not a bad idea. But then you are looking at rain gear first...
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 7:10:54 PM EST
Thanks for all the good information. I started the question because every few weeks there will be a thread on what type of wool blanket to get. As I said, I have a couple also, but I did not see them as useful to me as I would have thought, and it seemed like sacrilege to even think that. From the replies, I see that each has it's place.

For clothing items, socks especially, and a jacket or shirt, I agree that wool has some strong advantages. It helps that most wool items are probably a bit better made as well. As far as blankets and such goes, a wool blanket is probably never a mistake. If I had to go "Grizzly Adams" I'd want to take a wool blanket or two (or better yet, a gore tex sleeping bivy). The wool would hold up way better, since it is heavy and densely woven. Any field gear needs to be heavy to hold up to use. You could wrap yourself up in it and wear it if you had to. But who knows how realistic of a scenario that is anyway. There were times when I was in the field in the army and had watch, I sat on my poncho liner and draped it over my legs to stay a bit more comfortable.

When you are more settled, the light and inexpensive fleece blankets will still keep you warm. Its easy to pick up a couple of them. I have taken mine tent camping to drape over, or fold up under, my sleeping bag for a little more warmth. And in my area, having the power out and no heat is more likely than bugging out into the pine forest with my bedroll.
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 7:53:46 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/14/2016 8:05:50 PM EST by raf]
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 9:14:08 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Sweep:
I'd go wool.

I think fleece is actually made out of cotton? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, one of those "mink" blankets from Korea on the other hand…I've got one but hardly ever bring it out because it's just too damn hot under it. Not sure how it is if it gets wet because it's not really mink per se but I think it's actually made out of acrylic/polyester.
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Maybe you are thinking "flannel" there was a time flannel was synonymous with wool. (Well as a type of wool anyway) then you got Canton flannel and cottons...
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 9:21:36 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By raf:


Now, if you want to talk modern, high-end wools, then you have folks that either make their items out of unprocessed wool, or re-introduce the oils--or their equivalents-- at some point. Very nice stuff, but be prepared to pay for quality.



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The new versions of old stuff are amazing but not cheap, it's a big difference from the Woolrich stuff of 15-20 years ago. Starting at $65 a yard or so before you even take shears to it.

http://www.najecki.com/repro/Wool.html

http://www.historicaltextiles.com/Current_products.html
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 10:25:45 PM EST
I wish they made a woobie sized down/synthetic quilt. That would be the shit. I hate sleeping in bags, but blankets are usually too light weight.
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 10:41:55 PM EST
wool if it will/could get wet - wool retains 70% of heat when wet...fleece does not
Link Posted: 2/14/2016 11:38:18 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/15/2016 7:28:22 PM EST by Brian252]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By raf:
......
Fire-retardancy aside, a fleece blanket rinsed in modern DWR is, IMHO, a far better choice than the woolen equivalent. Try shaking the water out of a soaked woolen item, and then do the same for a comparable fleece item, and the advantages of fleece become immediately apparent.........

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raf: Good insight, makes sense that a modern reenactor would have some decent insight into how the old uniforms and equipment really functioned.

Do you know of a DWR that will work with a fleece jacket or blanket?

ETA: google found me this, a well reviewed way to make fleece shed water like a ducks back.
NIKWAX POLAR PROOF FLEECE DWR TREATMENT
https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/73879/

And again, thanks for the responses, I'm learning some good points from this.

ETA: I looked at the links for the "old school" wool available by the yard. Guys that have their outfits made authentically would definitely be in a good position to know how the old stuff performed, versus speculating. Amazing what is out there.

The link to woodtrekker has an extensive post where the author tests wool, and in another entry has alot of detail and historical context about how the materials performed from the guys using them 50 and 100 years ago. They clearly understood then that the material that breathed better would keep you dry and thus warm, so wool won easily over cotton at that time.

For us, it's probably a balance between performance and cost, and thinking about having things on hand for family as well.

If the moths don't get it, wool does wear very well. I had my father's pea coat from his stint in the 60's, and it was dated 1944 or so. I used it for years, and although it was worn at the buttons and some edges, other areas were really in good shape. I would not say it looked "new", but you would have never guessed it's age. I wore it till I outgrew it, but tried to avoid using it during any rain, since it turned into a heavy sponge.
Link Posted: 2/15/2016 1:57:02 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By TobyLazur:
I wish they made a woobie sized down/synthetic quilt. That would be the shit. I hate sleeping in bags, but blankets are usually too light weight.
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Wiggy's has a version of the poncho liner that's warmer than the milspec equivalent and works well for me. They also have "throws," or something like a "couch - TV blanket" sort of thing, but I have no experience with that item.
Link Posted: 2/15/2016 3:42:09 PM EST
Last year, after Christmas, a local grocery store was just about giving away fleece blankets. They were 4'x6' and were $3 each. I told my wife to buy all they had. I think she brought home 10 or 13 of them.

I have a 20* survival rated sleeping bag, when I know it's going to be cold, I just bring a fleece blanket that I cut in half. I put it under my feet and loop it back over the top of my feet. Using this method, I've been comfortable down to low single digits.

Walmart regularly has huge sales on the same type and size of blankets.
Link Posted: 2/16/2016 1:44:07 AM EST
Wool will keep me from hypothermia wet.
Fleece is lightweight.

Choose accordingly.
Link Posted: 2/16/2016 8:54:36 AM EST
I tend to prefer wool. Both in blankets and sweaters for winter use.

But I also love fleece for the comfort. My typical bedroll is a heavy wool blanket pinned with blanket pins and a fleece sleeping bag liner. Canvas or tyvek outer layer and I'm good for most of what we deal with here.

I also wear a fleece mid layer over my long john underlayer with wool sweaters over all of it and a wind breaker over that.

I routinely work outside in temps as low as the teens, 20's and 30's with that and don't get cold.

Inside fleece is wonderful, outside wool works. I've been meaning to find a seamstress to sew a fleece liner on one of my surplus Israeli wool blankets. Figured I would enjoy that.

Get both...
Link Posted: 2/16/2016 9:45:36 PM EST
I like both. I'd rather have a heavy wool blanket if it is really cold though. Actually, I'd rather have a sleeping bag, and then put on some wool socks.

Fleece is fine for less than the "really" cold from what I have experienced.

I think the key is to try them both. My sister picks up wool items from the local thrift stores for relatively cheep. Try out sleeping with a fleece blanket and no heat in the winter, then a wool blanket. See what works best for you. I'd hate to lug around a large wool blanket, but if I'm not going anywhere or have it in the car, then OK.
Link Posted: 2/16/2016 9:59:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2016 10:00:32 PM EST by JellyBelly]
I've been thinking about buying a roll of fleece (60 inches by 60 yards) and turning it into a few extra covers for my queen sized bed.
http://fleeceforsale.net/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=2836&zenid=912548e74c711f130a119c178954db0b
I won't be sleeping outdoors in cold weather unless my house burns down so there's no urgent need for wool. I'm a smidge over 6 feet tall so most of the wool blankets aren't big enough to completely cover my bed, and the ones that do will not be cheap.

For my needs fleece is the better solution.
Link Posted: 2/16/2016 10:47:31 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By raf:
I've said the same thing for a long time. Wool is one thing, and fleece is another.

The myth of wet wool being just as insulating as dry wool is just that, a myth. See this study:http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2012/03/does-wool-keep-you-warm-when-wet.html.



Now, if you want to talk modern, high-end wools, then you have folks that either make their items out of unprocessed wool, or re-introduce the oils--or their equivalents-- at some point. Very nice stuff, but be prepared to pay for quality.



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Not exactly the most scientific method, but neither is mine. As stated I get wet on a regular basis at work, wearing merino wool, and it continues to keep me warm. Not dunked in a river wet, just damp, where I'd certainly be uncomfortable in something else. The merino also dries fast, maybe not as fast as fleece, but merino wool is my go to.
Link Posted: 2/17/2016 10:26:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/17/2016 10:27:37 PM EST by Brian252]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By JohnSmith6073:

Not exactly the most scientific method, but neither is mine. As stated I get wet on a regular basis at work, wearing merino wool, and it continues to keep me warm. Not dunked in a river wet, just damp, where I'd certainly be uncomfortable in something else. The merino also dries fast, maybe not as fast as fleece, but merino wool is my go to.
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Originally Posted By JohnSmith6073:
Originally Posted By raf:
I've said the same thing for a long time. Wool is one thing, and fleece is another.

The myth of wet wool being just as insulating as dry wool is just that, a myth. See this study:http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2012/03/does-wool-keep-you-warm-when-wet.html.



Now, if you want to talk modern, high-end wools, then you have folks that either make their items out of unprocessed wool, or re-introduce the oils--or their equivalents-- at some point. Very nice stuff, but be prepared to pay for quality.




Not exactly the most scientific method, but neither is mine. As stated I get wet on a regular basis at work, wearing merino wool, and it continues to keep me warm. Not dunked in a river wet, just damp, where I'd certainly be uncomfortable in something else. The merino also dries fast, maybe not as fast as fleece, but merino wool is my go to.


Thanks for adding your first hand experience with merino wool. For comparison sake, have you worn fleece under similar conditions and noticed any difference?

I have not used alot of wool, my thin fleece sweaters usually do a good job of breathing and not getting soaked with sweat. I have never gotten them really saturated so I can't say if they stay warm when wet, but they won't hold that much water during a down pour (if you were so unfortunate as to have only a fleece in the rain).

Also the link to bulk fleece by the yard or bolt really offers a ton of material for a pretty reasonable price. You could make a half dozen blankets for around $55.

eta:
even fleece with howling wolves!
http://fleeceforsale.net/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=91_102&products_id=1751&zenid=912548e74c711f130a119c178954db0b
Link Posted: 2/18/2016 10:50:23 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By JohnSmith6073:

Not exactly the most scientific method, but neither is mine. As stated I get wet on a regular basis at work, wearing merino wool, and it continues to keep me warm. Not dunked in a river wet, just damp, where I'd certainly be uncomfortable in something else. The merino also dries fast, maybe not as fast as fleece, but merino wool is my go to.
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I'd like to see the results of tests with the copper man(thermal man). I know I like wool and it's retained its ability to keep me warm. When I was younger I fell through the ice in a beaver pond on a sub 20F day. I got out and was soaked but the wool dried surprisingly fast, due to low humidity and wind. Similarly in the 1930s my grandfather fell in a pond while cutting ice, the men he was working with fished him out and put him right back to work. ;) Maybe a fleece outfit would work just as well I'm not eager to retry it however.
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