Going Wool? share your knowledge
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Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Going Wool? share your knowledge on 12/01/2006 13:35:48 MST Print View

Eric, I changed the name on my last post.

Sorry and thanks.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Going Wool? share your knowledge on 12/01/2006 16:28:03 MST Print View

Man I just visited that Ibex website. Holy smokes, those Ibex wool products are expensive as hell. The old Army wool issue long underwear, shirts and trousers were equal or better as anything being made today out of wool and cheap as dirt. Bring them back! They were superior...more functional for expedition type winter backpacking and much, much cheaper.

I will shell out big bucks for my pack, sleeping bag, tent or tarp system, for my boots and some other miscellaneous items. But for wool clothes? Nah, those should be relatively cheap.

Vlad

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Going Wool? share your knowledge on 12/01/2006 16:48:53 MST Print View

I won't argue with you on the cost. I almost always take advantage of their web specials and season clearance sales. I don't remember the old stuff being superior or more functional. Like you, I just ignored the itch but now I don't have to. I guess I was more manly as a teenager. I'm just a wuss now. I like being able to wash the new stuff. You weren't suppose to but I used to wash my old Pendelton's.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Going Wool? share your knowledge on 12/01/2006 17:00:12 MST Print View

>Like you, I just ignored the itch but now >I don't have to.

I honestly do not remember any itch from wool. I'm not just saying that. I always heard about wool "itching" but personally never was bothered by it.

Vlad

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Comfort is a part of functionality. on 12/02/2006 12:19:23 MST Print View

"I honestly do not remember any itch from wool. I'm not just saying that. I always heard about wool "itching" but personally never was bothered by it."

You're lucky. Ragg wool lights me up. I can wear merino wool socks directly against my skin and I am perfectly comfortable, but in the one merino wool shirt I used, my shoulder and chest itched pretty badly. I'm taking a chance on a different brand of shirt this winter.

As for comfort, I think it counts for a lot. I'm going to push myself when I through-hike spending weeks at a time in the backcountry. Sustained comfort counts for a lot in the midst of other hardships.

When I deployed to Norway int he 90's for arctic training exercises, we always carried brutally heavy packs, due to the communications gear we needed, combined with arctic specific gear. Our base layers were polypropylene, mid layers were fleece, and heavy duty goretex formed our shells. Some of our Marines asked one of our master sergeants about "back in the day" when wool was used. He said he liked the newer stuff better, partcularly polypropylene because it didn't cause him to itch. One young pup commented that he must not be so hard at his older age. His response was "There's hard, then there's just hard-headed."

I backpack for a number of reasons. Physical challenge is a part of it. And I do push myself when I'm out and walking a 300 mile trail. I just don't see the need to test myself further by enduring uncomfortable clothing. The polyesther based layers I use have worked well, combined with variations of wind shells, fleece, primaloft, nylon. In really cold weather, I like a down jacket for insulation once I'm in camp and protected from precipitation.

I don't dispute that wool functions well in insulating even when wet. I just know from experience that I can get more comfortable performance from the synthetic layers I've used.

I really do envy your ability to wear wool in comfort.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Comfort is a part of functionality. on 12/02/2006 13:57:48 MST Print View

>I really do envy your ability to wear >wool in comfort.

Yeah, the scratchy wool stuff just never bothered me in cold weather. I presently wear a ten year old LL Bean wool jac shirt on a regular basis and dont even think about it. I swim laps on a regular basis and when I leave the pool I am still hot and a little sweaty and I put on the wool jac shirt...it just doesnt bother me even after I came out of the pool.

I wonder if the scratchiness of wool clothing might be heavily psychological or something? Maybe psychosomatic? Like, people are constantly told "wool is scratchy and uncomfortable" so when they do try it, they dont like it.

Me on the other hand, I was told at an early age that "wool was the bomb" for cold weather roughing it camping and backpacking. I was always like "wow am I thankful for this scratchy wool clothing right now, its freezing rain or sleeting and I'm on the trail, sure am glad I'm not wearing cotton."

Anyway, to each his own.

Vlad

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Comfort is a part of functionality. on 12/02/2006 14:04:38 MST Print View

Hi Shawn, I see in your profile you were a Philmont Ranger. I really admire you for that. I was formally accepted to be a Ranger one summer, but I canceled my contract at the last minute because I had a case of achilles tendonitis, though it was a mild case. I regret cancelling my contract now, years later. I wish I had just gone and done it, maybe popped ibuprofren for the tendonitis. I think I could have managed the tendonitis for two and a half months.

I saved my contract though, just to prove now that I am old and stuff that I was at least good enough at one time to get formally accepted for that job. Still have it hidden away so I can pull it out and prove it.

My old Scoutmaster berated me for that. He would tell me, "you could have probably made training Ranger if you had stuck it out."

Vlad

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Comfort is a part of functionality. on 12/02/2006 14:22:51 MST Print View

It's never too late! I teach so I have summers off (for the most part). And experienced backpacker with a strong scouting background and Philmont experience could probably get on still. There's no money in it, but neither is there money in the long-distance hikes I make each summer. With a strong first aid background, you might even be able to slide into a spot now, if your life allows you time off for such undertakings. I only got to work as a ranger for 6 weeks, instead of a full summer, because I was on loan from the Naval Academy. (This was actually a summer leadership training option for Academy Eagle Scouts!) But I would love to go back either as a scouter with a contingent or on staff. With my NOLS Instructor background and my wilderness first responder (WFR) certification, I was flat told I would at least be picked up as a TR, and possibly an Assistant Chief Ranger (ACR) if I could spare the full 10 weeks of their season. I still have some been hikes I want to tackle first, but when I start having kids, I suspect I'll look more closely at Philmont (perhaps the Philmont Training Center) as a source of summer work and enjoyment.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
New Merino Wool Shirt on 12/02/2006 15:16:26 MST Print View

I posted earlier I had been unhappy with the REI lightweight Merino Wool Shirt I got last year, and was going to try a new Smartwool microweight. I just got it about an hour ago and I'm very impressed. There was the tiniest hint of itch at the neckline and a hint of perhaps a teeny bit of itch. But I've had the shirt on now for a while and there is virtually no itch. After a couple of washings, I suspect this will completely disappear. The REI top was much much itchier. I'm looking forward to trying this out in the field soon.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Comfort is a part of functionality. on 12/02/2006 16:24:19 MST Print View

>I only got to work as a ranger for 6 >weeks, instead of a full summer, because >I was on loan from the Naval Academy. >(This was actually a summer leadership >training option for Academy Eagle Scouts!)

YIKES! I might know you (a little). Depending upon which season you were a Ranger. I worked in base camp one summer back in the eighties for an entire season while still in high school. And I remember specifically both Air Force Academy cadets and Naval Academy Cadets coming in for that Philmont Ranger program. I do indeed remember that for those guys, it was not an all summer thing.

There used to be a large Air Force Academy contingent the summers I was at Philmont. The Naval Academy contingent was small the summer I was on base camp staff. We had bear attacks that summer...maybe thats a hint.

One of the things I remember about both those Air Force and Naval Academy guys who would come to Philmont to be Rangers is kind of silly. ALL of them used to love and just hang out in the staff recreation lounge and sit and watch MTV. I guess you guys got worked so hard at the Academys that MTV was a really big deal to you people. <grin>

I have no idea what its like out there now...I need to join the PSA. I have their membership literature they sent me.

Vlad

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Empire Canvas Works wool base layer & mukluks, etc. on 12/03/2006 10:13:55 MST Print View

Brett & all,

JR referred me a web site for mukluks (in the Stegger [I got the spelling wrong, its Steger] mukluks thread] and they also have wool/synthetic blend base layers for around $30 for the top and for $30 for the long john bottoms. Looks good, and they say it controls the smell factor.

http://www.empirecanvasworks.com/magneticnorthboots.htm

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Going Wool? share your knowledge on 12/05/2006 04:05:17 MST Print View

bd, Thanks for that link. I am going to wear wool through winter and as deep into spring as I can tolerate before going back to cool polyester.. if ever. I now prefer wool baselayers with enough color/fashion that I can wear it as a sole layer at the after-hike restaurant.
It is really interesting to read your posts since you live in a cold region and use your gear on a daily basis in the winter. Cool. Here in downtown Tokyo going to the post office is not a hazardous journey requiring contingency gear..

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Wool - Brett on 12/05/2006 10:19:18 MST Print View

Thank you as well. I am also looking forward to getting wool base layer, still deciding which and where. Our place is really great for gear testing. Has cold air, weather, snow etc. ... but within a few miles are permanently snow covered areas up at the Lassen Nat'l. Park and Lake Manzanita area ... for experimenting with how to use a Rainshadow 2 in the snow (my next goal) and test out mukluks, or in the other direction beautiful often not snow covered areas for checking out gear and generally having fun on the dirt/rock surfaces in cold air. The key to the cold for me is that it is not dampish, like near the ocean or in the valley fog on a winter morning .... so T-shirts will even do, sometimes down to 20 F ... when I feel like it ... thoroughly appreciate and enjoy your comments on the different threads ...

... but it is a challenge because it goes from winter cold dry to winter cold snow at random around our house ... thus the testing of foot gear for both muddy/mucky conditions, snow, and dry dirt conditions ... and different weight socks, etc. ... got that sort of sorted out ... (1) light weight really simple smaller snow shoes + mukluks (never did that yet, but really look forward to carrying snow shoes and only using them when I need to), for deeper snow, (2) mukluks for packed snow or nice powder of 6 -8", maybe more (because hard boots sink in it and get cold), (3) hard boots for muck and guck days or dirt. (Saving money to get the Norweigan Leddens that Nicholas referred me to for when it stays below freezing for days in a row and clean(er) snow conditions.)

my idea of clothing for Tokyo would be to wrap myself in that reflixix [sp?] stuff from Home Depot that I think you and pj have talked about on another thread... would that work there? :)

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
My Wool Experience on 12/05/2006 14:59:22 MST Print View

After 5 pages I am just getting around to this thread on wearing wool. I have been using a Ibex 200 long sleeve shirt for most of my hiking now for about 2 years. I hike both in hot Southern CA in the San Gabriels and in the Sierra's. I have found that I can remain comfortable in this wool shirt over a broad range of temps. The ability to push the sleeves up when hiking uphill and the way sweat wicks to the outer surface makes a huge difference in comfort for me. Arriving at the top of a ridge where a chilling wind may be blowing, I find that slipping on a windshirt really is all that I need most of the time no matter what the temp is. I have hiked in 90 degree heat and in 30 degree chilling wind and always felt comfortable. I have worn it when it rains in the Sierras and with just a shell have been warm even when the wool has gotten wet from either sweat and/or rain. I bought my Ibex shirt on sale at Sierra Trading Post for about $40. Unfortunately it is a dark steel blue which is a problem in the heat or sun...but still. I am also sun sensitive -- very much so! Merino wool is a pretty good sun block. I don't know what it's SPF is but it is enough for me. I also bought a set of Ibex Woolies which is their finest diameter wool garment(Weight for the set is about 10 oz). The zip top and the LJs have been my alternate to my silk long underwear(weight about 7oz). I usually wear the wool when it starts getting down to about 30 or colder at night. They are as comfortable as the silk (if not as sleek)and really make a difference when it gets cold in camp. They wick moisture away from the skin and so I always feel dry in camp and in my bag. I once brought along both sets just to see if it made a difference at night. I had my lighter weight summer bag and by the middle of the night I was feeling a bit chilly in the silk and changed into the wool and immediatel felt warmer and slept through the rest of the night.
Finally, to the issue of itch. I used to think I could not wear wool because it did make me itch. Merino changed that. Even after days of wearing my top on the trail and rinsing it in streams and putting it right back on, it not only does not stink but I haven't itched once. I asked my Dermotologist what the deal was with Wool and she said it is most usually that the scales of the wool fibre irritate some sensitive people. Merino has a smoother scale structure and when properly processed will not irritate most people. BUT some people even feel these smoother scales and still cannot wear it. Others are just simply allergic to wool -- period. But for most people it is the smoothness of the scale that makes the difference.

Adendum: I now wear merino wool dress socks to work and merino athletic crew socks at all other times and my feet feel more comfortable and drier than wearing cotten or synthetic blend socks. I also have several merino mock Ts that I wear to work and a pair of wool jeans. I have gone Merino wild!!

Edited by mitchellkeil on 12/05/2006 15:17:23 MST.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
A forgotten Wool experience on 12/05/2006 15:43:50 MST Print View

At times I think that Age has dimmed the lights...

In 1977, when I was 29 I was a teacher and ran an Outdoor Ed program for a private school as an after school activity. I decided I wanted to up the ante for myself, so I signed up for the Outward Bound Hurricane Island 30 day course. Spent the 30 days of the month of June in Pennobscot Bay with water temps in the 40's and air temps in the 60's on a good day. Spent that entire time on a 30 foot Pulling Boat with 9 other people ages 16 to 26. (I was older than the instructors.) We sailed in good weather and foul. We rowed that sucker a lot -- sometimes for 8 hours at a stretch. What did I wear that entire time? Surplus Army wool issue. I had a wool fatigue sweater, army wool long johns and top, army wool dress pants and wool rag socks -- and I was the warmest and most comfortable person on that miserable boat. It rained on many days, a cold driving rain (sometimes with marine sleet) as only the Maine coast can create and I was fine with it. Yes, I itched but my teeth didn't chatter and my toes were not blue. I could, and did, throw myself down on the oars as a deck and fall immediately asleep when my watch was up. Now many years later and with what I know about fabrics ,I can't imagine any other clothing that could have withstood that physical abuse and maintain body warmth the way that wool surplus clothing did.

I lost my way to the siren song of high tech clothing and fabrics over the years only to discover an old friend reborn in merino wool.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 12/05/2006 15:49:04 MST.

Samuel Winebaum
(samwine) - F

Locale: NH
Wool Capilene combination on 12/05/2006 17:44:17 MST Print View

I have been wearing a long sleeve capilene 2 (former lightweight) under a short sleeve Ibex Fausto merion 18.5 micron bike jersey I got on sale. I have nordic skied hard uphill for an hour in 10 degree weather twice with this combination with only a Patagonia Houdini over and got to the top dryer and more comfortable than with any other combination on the same route. I think the trick is the wool helps to evaporate the sweat while the jersey is tight fitting retaining heat. Since the Houdini is relatively loose it doesn't cling and absorb. I have also used this combination in 30-40 degree weather on the flats for my evening runs with exactly the same result. I am a big fan of wool. I find this Fausto and a microweight Smartwool short sleeve keep me comfortable over a huge range of temps and particularly where there is wind and variable temps in the mix.
Sam

Edited by samwine on 12/05/2006 17:47:22 MST.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re: Paul; no archeryshop wool yet on 12/10/2006 21:40:26 MST Print View

Paul; no, I have not received my wool/polyester blend zip top yet, (for other readers, I mentioned this $20 bargain in an earlier post).
I am overseas, so it will take longer to get to me.
If this blend has the best of both fabrics as other posters have hinted at,(no stink and dries fast) Ill get the longjohns as well. If it is the worst of both fabrics (Stinky AND slow to dry) Ill toss em. Either way Ill report back.