Wool vs Fleece
Was wondering if anyone had any opinions on the benefits of one type of fabric over the next. Specifically I'm planning on building a sleep system and clothing layers for next winter slowly as things go on the end-of-season sale racks. At Goodwill today I saw throw sized fleece blankets for $2 in various colors which I would stitch together for an anorak and sleeping bag liner. I'm trying to decide if I'd be better off going with the wool blankets for 20+ dollars each or the cheaper and more readily available fleece clothing.
If you can speak from experience about this issue I'd sure like to hear what you have to say. I'm really concerned with warmth comparisons as well as sweat wicking properties, which is better when it gets wet, breathability, etc.
I know wool insulates 80% of its capabilities even when soaking wet. If im correct no other fabric, whether natural or man made can claim such a feat. Also wool is fire resistant and odor resistant. However, some wools can be itchy! And wool is heavy, I think mil spec wool blankets weigh in around 5 pounds, which is more then my tent... Im quite curious as to the benefits of fleece.
I was a diehard wool guy a few years ago. Filson coat, LL Bean (I think) pants, and wool cap. I have gone almost 100% fleece. I still wear wool socks
As mentioned wool is HEAVY! But you cannot find a more rugged material.
Polar fleece seems to have the same wet properties as wool in my experience and is oh so light. However... An ember from the fire can put a hole in your jacket quicker than you can say, "Oh crap."
If I had to pick one set of garments to homestead in the Northwest Territories, it would be wool. If I am hiking and hunting and am never further than a few days from a town, I'd pick poly fleece.
For me the issue is exceedingly simple. I'm allergic to most wools, and quite allergic to molds, which many older wools harbor. Give me lightweight poly fleece that I can throw in the washing machine and I'm a happy camper.
However, I think idahoelkhunter makes a good point about the relative ruggedness and comparative durability. Wool has been around for a very long time and there's a good reason for that. My most cold weather hat is 100% wool felt from a very ancient design. One thing not yet mentioned is that wool felt has wind resistance that unlined fleece can't match.
i much prefer wool to fleece and in fact have gotten rid of all the fleece i used to own. i like the durability and the fact that it's a natural fiber. i still have a couple watch caps that are synthetic, but in time those will be replaced as well.
for an anorak, i plan to make one from wool. as an outer garment the durability comes into play as does the fire resistance.
for a bag liner, i still would go with wool. fleece makes me feel clammy when it's next to my skin and i think wool does a better job of wicking. soft, high quality wool would be preferred for a bag liner if you sleep wearing less than a base layer.
Last edited by grnmtn; 02-25-2011 at 10:17 PM.
There is nothing comfier than soft wool. In cold weather it is Merino wool base layers all the way. I actually find pure, tight weave wool sweaters too warm and I tend to use a fleece mid layer so I can undo the pit zips and cool off a little quicker.
I always find that fleece feels awesome when I first put it on but in short order it seems to get clammy or uncomfortable. I always use some sort of wind-proof outer shell over whatever I am wearing so the spark issue is a bit of a non-starter but wool definitely holds up better but is a pain to wash properly.
Wool next to the skin though-always.
-all those who wander are not lost-
I'm wearing a wool sweater writing this. I really like it the refective warmth of wool, but I have to wear a silk or nylon layer underneath - I can't stand wool next to my skin.
I'm like idahoelkhunter - I wear wool around the camp and on short hikes or still hunting It is heavy and bulky, and takes forever to dry when really wet. For longer trips I take feece, lifa, and gortex. I prefer the lighter weight and breathability of feece on longer trips. Also it dries out very fast in a wind. And yes I do have to be carefull around fires, but that it manageable.
I use wool and fleece, sometimes in combination depending on the weather. Wool probably insulates better given equal weights.
I do have a 300 weight fleece jacket that, if worn under a wind proof cotton or nylon parka, is a very warm insulator.
For a sleeping system I think a fleece liner inside a conventional sleeping bag offers good warmth but not as good as a wool blanket. The fleece is easier to care for.
if you want bombproof - you want wool - as real as you can get it.
mainly it's fires that screw up fleece, but even snags and 'pulls' can mess up fleece.
I like fleece - but my fleece is for 'city use only'.
i used to ride during the winter with wool shirts under my jacket, i came across a fleece pullover a few years ago and tried it out. it was much lighter, alot less bulky and i stayed warm all day i rode that long. i now have a pair of fleece pants i wear under my jeans too and the only thing that stops me from riding my bike is snow, hard to keep it up in zero traction. this may seem off topic but i'm talking about riding at 60 and 70 mph in 20 degree weather, if that's not a test i don't know what is. hope this helps.