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Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry?
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Stevan Beer
(PapaBeer) - F

Locale: Gunnison Valley
Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? on 12/04/2007 13:21:18 MST Print View

I was recently gifted a JCrew Cashmere Hoodie. Now I don't usually wear this sort of yuppie clothing (no offense), but my roommate was clearing his closet and gave it to me. Upon further research, I found that this piece cost around $240 new!!! Sure I'll take it. Anyway it is a basic hoodie with a kangaroo handwarmer pocket. No drawstrings or anything. The thickness is about the same as an Icebreaker 320 but not as tightly woven. I do not currently have a scale - for shame;) - but it feels like it is around 10-12 oz. It performs excellently as a mid layer. It is super warm yet breathable but is not windproof at all due to the loose knit. It is SUPER soft! The only thing I see as a drawback is its durability. I also am scared to wash it in the machine so I have sink washed it with cold water and hung dry.
My questions for all you gear heads:
-Has anybody used cashmere in the BC?
-How does cashmere's warmth to weight ratio compare to fleece, wool, possumdown, etc?
-How does it do when wet compared to other fabrics?
-Is it not a popular outdoor fabric due to it's cost?
-Any other info on cashmere in the outdoors would be much appreciated.
Thanks, PapaBeer

Derek Cox
(derekcox) - F

Locale: Southeast
please, no. on 12/04/2007 14:24:56 MST Print View

i have never used it, but it just seems like a sin to me to wear cashmere hiking.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Cashmere on 12/04/2007 15:36:44 MST Print View

I inherited a long cashmere robe, it's completely unsuitable for backcountry use, but I can compare it to similar wool sweaters I've worn. It seems warmer per weight than wool, and dries at a similar rate.

It doesn't feel any more fragile than loose knit wool sweaters. However, I still hand wash it, using shampoo instead of detergent.

I considered getting a cashmere hoodie, but the price was too high. For half the price I could get a merino hoodie that is basically equivalent. Besides price, it's got a perception of being a luxury fabric, so people stay away.

You may remember Expedition Everest, where they went up Everest in vintage style clothing. They had cashmere ankle wraps

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Cashmere in the backcountry on 12/04/2007 16:37:15 MST Print View

It works just fine and if not abused will hold up as well as most woolen goods. I have a cashmere watch cap that's absolutely great for ski touring. It does seem a bit excessive but if you got it for free why not. A hoodie would be a great top for cold weather sleeping. Means of abuse - bushwhacking. Don't do it. Sweat - wool has to be air dried, and I wash anything cashmere by hand. Can't be washed in the backcountry. Overwashing might cause deterioration, even if you wash it carefully by hand once you're home. One problem with cashmere hoodies, sweaters, gloves, etc - they are not made for the backcountry and don't usually have useful features like drawcords, storm flaps for zippers, elastic at the sleeves. I am not a scientist but I would guess that the weight to warmth ratio is better than merino. It is definitely lighter and just as warm, at least in sweaters I wear on the street.

Edited by richardglyon on 12/04/2007 16:50:58 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
you mean you couldn't sew a bunch of pashmina scarves together on 12/04/2007 16:40:00 MST Print View

I keep waiting for someone to sew a bunch of pashmina scarves together into a pullover but alas .... cashmere is rated in plys, which is the number of strands twisted toghether to form the yarn, if the cashmere comes from an area of the goat like the throat and belly it will be longer and denser versus the back and legs [to protect vital organs]. So a 1 ply yarn from long hairs will be lighter but have a tighter knit and a higher gauge [knit]. So what determines warmth is the ply and gauge of the knit or loft and napability. The fiber itself is very warm [look at what altitude and geography these goats come from] so when you compare cashmere to wool or angora or mohair or alpaca or llama or camel or possum down you would almost have to compare individual garments, weight,tightness or gauge, and loft. Another consideration would be whether they've been striped of their natural oils and the fact there is less incidence of allergic reactions to non-wool [from sheep] natural fibers.
I have used cashmere for both bike touring and backpacking it is a nice luxury but is a rather poor use for the fiber when you can get a shetland wool sweater for 6 bucks. [on sale-old navy]

Heather Pisani-Kristl
(P-K) - F

Locale: San Diego
Re: Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? on 12/04/2007 17:12:31 MST Print View

You wouldn't be the first to use cashmere for hiking -- a backpacker in one of Lynne Whelden's videos recommended a cashmere sweater as an insulating garment. I think this was in the pre-fleece era. But if you've got it, why not use it?

IME, cashmere can be washed in a washing machine, on the gentle cycle with mild detergent. Lay it flat on a rack to dry.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? on 12/04/2007 18:31:45 MST Print View

My favorite lightweight vest for years was Cashmere. It finally got washed too hot and shrank. Boy, was I disappointed. Cashmere has great loft and good weight for warmth. I think it weighed 9 ounces. It was a loose knit - useless for wind, but efficient for insulation and perfect for layering under a windbreaker.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Cashmere in the backcountry on 12/04/2007 19:19:55 MST Print View

My comments are very subjective because I have yet to use my pashmina pullover, however ...
The pashmina version is slightly larger than the merino wool/possum down one and is about 1 oz heavier. Apart from that the yarn appears about as thick, the pashmina is the one on the left.
My impression is that the pashmina jumper is softer,warmer and feels stronger than the other. There is no itch whatsoever wearing it against the skin. The possum merino/possum down version has a slight "tingle" but it does not bother me.
I paid about half for the pashmina compared to the other.
BTW, a lesser quality "100% *" pashmina could be purchased for half or less again (in Nepal...) , but it would be similar to a good merino jumper.
Not all "100%" pashmina are the same.I would not recommend buying Cashmere unless you know what to look for.
But once you get to feel the different grades you start to understand the quality.
Yarn thickness

Edited by Franco on 12/04/2007 19:21:28 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? STINK? on 01/19/2008 07:15:24 MST Print View

Does cashmere stink? Specifically, how does it compare to merino in this regard?


Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Cashmere myths? on 01/29/2009 10:58:19 MST Print View

I read somewhere (and now cannot find the reference) that cashmere, as a fiber, is 4 times warmer per ounce than regular wool.

I was wondering if anyone on here can confirm or refute that.

I wonder about it because, if true, it seems like a lot more could be done with this fiber in the outdoor gear industry to lighten insulation garments up without sacrificing warmth. Specifically in the area of Merino wool/Cashmere blends.

Seems like making a garment of the warmth that is both lighter and softer could only be a good thing...

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? on 01/29/2009 13:38:51 MST Print View

I haven't, but if I had some, I would. It used to be that I could never wear wool because it itched me so badly. As a college student (that was the sweater-girl era, before many of you were born), I bought cashmere sweaters whenever they were on sale. The problem was that I switched directly from a college-student budget to a young parent budget, so all my cashmere from that era has long since been worn to shreds. I wonder if some could be found in thrift stores?

While there were plenty of Merino sheep around back in those days (1950's), I have no idea what happened to their wool. It certainly didn't go into sweaters or into what was then known as long underwear! In Wyoming, where I grew up, the heavily wrinkled Merino didn't do well on the open range, where most sheep were raised in those days. Back then, the best return for sheep growers was to raise lambs for meat. Wool was a secondary byproduct--perhaps because it was so itchy?

Cashmere is made from the hair of a special breed of goat (Cashmere is to goats what Merino is to sheep) and is really soft and cuddly. A little googling found a woman's "lighweight" (no weight given) cashmere turtleneck at LL Bean on sale for $75. I remember being cuddly warm in the stuff but not sweating as I did in the wool sweaters my mother forced me to wear as a teenager. A little googling found a woman's "lighweight" (no weight given) cashmere turtleneck at LL Bean on sale for $75. Maybe it's just that too many people equate cashmere with luxury, so it's never been thought of as a base or insulating layer?

EDIT: After years of doubt I tried merino wool and it does not make me itch or break out in a sweat!

Edited by hikinggranny on 01/30/2009 13:14:13 MST.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
Pashmina shawl on 01/29/2009 13:59:33 MST Print View

I use a pashmina shawl I picked up in the Himalaya and find it indespensable. It can be used as a blanket over a sleeping bag, and because it weighs nothing (180g total) whne it is spread out, it doesn't compress the down at all, and traps air and insulates very well. Some nights I sleep on top of it as an underbody insulating layer. It can be worn around camp like a shawl, or as scarf. It is very versitile, and only cost me about ten dollars, albeit 10 years ago. It is full length for my body (5 feet 8ish) and wide enough to act as a full blanket. I've only washed it by hand a couple of times, and it is still going strong. Highly recommended.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Has anybody used Cashmere in the Backcountry? on 01/29/2009 14:14:25 MST Print View

I think cashmere would be a great fabric, especially for folks like Mary and I who suffer badly from the merino itch. It would be my first choice if not for the cost.

Mary, most of the wool produced in the 'old days' went into stuff like carpet rather than clothing (except here in NZ where people were a lot tougher and wore really coarse wool garments). It wasn't until the development of the finer grade softer and less itchy merino that clothing became more appealing to mainstream consumers.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
More cashmere use on 01/29/2009 15:25:20 MST Print View

In cleaning out my closet over the Christmas holidays I came across a pair of old (10+ years) cashmere sweaters that hadn't been stored in bins. As a result the gourmet moths in my house (won't eat anything but cashmere) have generated holes too large for reweaving that made the sweaters too unsightly for street wear. I wore one of the sweaters as a midlayer while skiing and ski touring in Wyoming and it worked really well at keeping me warm. I repeat what I said in my earlier post about care, and the fact that fragility is usually the goal in the lightest weight cashmere pieces (one and two-ply); they're not made for rugged use. All are expensive. Caps and headbands tend to be a bit more durable, with tighter weaves, as some are made for runners and skiers.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Hint, hint... on 01/29/2009 15:26:34 MST Print View

It's also been my experience that cashmere is warmer and softer than even merino wool (though I am still hoping to find that reference that claims that cashmere really IS 4 times warmer than wool per ounce)...

So, hint, hint: If any employees from Icebreaker or Smartwool are haunting the forums, here's your next big product!

Either pure cashmere layers, or merino/cashmere blends. The retail prices for merino garments are already sky-high - how much cost can adding 30% cashmere really add. After all, if cashmere really is 4 times warmer than wool, you should be able to reduce the amount of merino required for the same warmth rating by much more than the amount of cashmere you've added...

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Cashmere- even a child knows on 01/29/2009 15:38:37 MST Print View

My wife had a short-sleeved cashmere sweater from her mom- probably 50 years old. Way too small for the wife but I swiped it and had my daughter wear it to play in the snow last year. Since then it's the girl's go-to insulation layer for cold activities like snow play, cool hikes, even fall season softball practice.

She has a closetfull of other jackets but has learned by experience just how broad a temperature/activity range wool has. Pretty good for an 8 year old.

James Horner
(jbob19) - F

Locale: Ontario
thrift deal on 01/30/2009 09:02:55 MST Print View

I just found a 1/4 zip sweater at the thrift store that is made of 85% merino and 15% cashmere. I was so excited when I read the label that I got goose bumps ha ha. I washed it in my washing machine on the "hand wash" cycle with ivory snow detergent then laid it out to dry and it came out fine. It is increbibly soft anf I can't wait to really try it out. I love the 1/4 zip to allow for some temperature control. For $10 I have no problem using this soley for outdoor adventures.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
UL cashmere from BPL please? on 01/30/2009 13:04:24 MST Print View

So how bout it, BPL? Replace the merino with cashmere in your UL skin layers and I'll pay the premium. Should feel better and work better. I wear size L...

Jason Shaffer
(PA_Jay) - F

Locale: on the move....
BPL Pashmina shawl ? on 01/30/2009 13:37:05 MST Print View

I'd like to see BPL (or a forum-ite) source some pashmina shawls of a reliable quality. I really don't know what to look for in finding one myself, but they sound great. I like my Possumdown way too much to suggest a complete cashmere replacement though, esp at the likely price point.