My Army Wool Blanket vs. a Fleece Blanket?

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by wahoowad, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Tracker

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    So...seeing all the references here about using wool blankets has me thinking about the one that followed me home one day from when I was in the Army. It has been wrapped up in a plastic bag for 15 years and I'm not even sure how old it was before it was issued to me.

    I was thinking I might pack a rolled up fleece blanket on those trips where I won't need a sleeping bag (I use one at home and am amazed at the warmth). Now I'm wondering if I should instead try my old Army blanket? It does not pack as small as the fleece blanket and probably weighs a bit more.
     
  2. Blaker55

    Blaker55 Scout

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    The fleece will be ok to fine in a no wind environment or with some type of shell over it. For versatility and warmth, I would stick with the wool. Or do both if you can find the room, using the fleece under the wool blanket.
     
  3. Med Gecko

    Med Gecko Scout

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    I don't think fleece insulates when wet, does it?

    Med. Gecko

    ETA: that's what I get for thinking! :8:
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  4. dducey

    dducey Scout

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    Fleece blankets are warmer than wool blankets and don't cause skin irritation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  5. sticker

    sticker Guide

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    my wool blanket is much warmer then fleece plus it doesn't melt if a spark from the fire lands on it.
     
  6. MrBuhl

    MrBuhl Tracker

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    I think weight for weight, the fleece is warmer, and fleece does insulate well when wet. But the fire thing, that's the rub. In the end it's a form of plastic and it can melt/catch fire. Plus I just like a heavier weight blanket. I agree though, if you can take both, fleece is comfy under a nice, wind shedding dense wool!
     
  7. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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    This still doesn't address the issue of not being fire friendly, but besides insulating well when wet, fleece also dries quickly, weighs less when wet than wool and can also be purchased in a windproof form.
    I hammock camp so I don't sleep by a fire anyway. For me, weight is the biggest factor and the fire issue is very minimal. Others have exactly the opposite priorities.
     
  8. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Banned Member Banned

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    No, fleece is not warmer than wool. Likewise, wool is not warmer than fleece. Insulating power is a function of thickness and how much dead air the "stuff", whatever it is, can surround you with.There isn't any magic going on here. You do, however, also have other factors to consider. Fleece tends to be less of a windblock than a lot of woolen weaves, so if it's exposed, the wind may be able to carry off more of your heat by infiltrating your fleece insulation layer, and some wool blankets may be warmer (depends on the weave). When wet, wool fibers tend to be stiffer and wool garments will usually lose less of their insulating loft when wet - making them warmer if you're lying there under a wet blanket. On the other side of that coin, acrylic or polyester fleece fibers absorb drastically less water than wool does, and both drain water and dry much faster. The guy under a soaking wet wool blanket will not be as warm as the guy who gets up, wrings the water out of his fleece blanket and covers up again. All the water the wool blanket is holding will constantly be sucking heat away from your body and you aren't likely to be generating enough to replace it or dry it very well.

    One of the first demonstrations for polarfleece and Patagonia Pile (looks like fake sheepskin and was worn furry-side-in) back when they first came out illustrated this very well. They had you dunk a fleece sweater in a bucket of water and then when it was completely soaked, pull it out, wring and shake the water out of it and put it on (shirtless). Within a minute or so, you're pretty comfortable and you don't even feel particularly damp. Wool is great stuff and compared to cotton, it will do a bit of the same thing, but nowhere near as well as polarfleece will. The wet wool sweater will still be heavy, baggy and feel like you're wearing a wet sweater. As a side note, you'll notice that the really serious, high-end techhnical fleece garments seldom have knit cuffs or collars. They just have a skinny little strip of stretch nylon binding the edges. This is because knit cuffs and collars soak up water and dry slowly. The rest of the garment will feel dry and comfortable hours before the cuffs do, so they leave them off.

    Back on the other side of the fence, if your blanket is being used both on top of you and under you, The denser, less compressible nature of a good wool blanket is probably going to be warmer and aid your foam pad or other ground insulation a bit more.

    Fleece is lighter and packs smaller, wool will take more of a beating and usually last longer (sometimes a lot longer). Sparks are generally less of a problem/hazard with wool. Ten years from now, a good wool blanket will probably still be doing its job. Fleece, maybe, but it seems to thin-out faster with hard use. Which one is better? I guess it depends on your needs and exactly what sort of use you have in mind.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  9. Tcc3

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    I'm a car camper (so far) so I like the idea of a fleece under layer and wool outer layer. If I needed to decide between the two I think I'd take the wool.
     
  10. WKS1977

    WKS1977 Tracker

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    Good thread...I use a US Army wool blanket (70 or 80% wool, not sure). I may try using a fleece blanket under the wool on top of my foam pad and see how it works.
     
  11. Howie

    Howie Guide Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    todd, very good reply.

    the wringing out a wet wool anything vs wringing out a wet syth is key for me. not neccessaarlyi how warm wet either is but how fast is it gonna get back to being dry and warm. on that note syth wins hands down. yeah it might not last as long, but my out wear i have no intention of being an heirloom article. for me its a wear out item, with plans to allways rplace it. if it get a few campfire holes in it, aint no big deal. in some ways thats what its for.
     
  12. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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    In my experience at least at home when I wash my fleece blankets...They absorb water like a sponge and do not easily let it go. My washer even has a dificult time ringing them out I run it on spin for 3 additional cycles and still end up hand ringing the fleece blankets before hanging up to dry or placing in the dryer I don't have this problem with any other type of material and I think that should be something all may want to consider. Not that it isn't a warm blanket at home.
     
  13. gixer

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    To be honest i'd sooner stay at home rather than have a wool anything, i hate the stuff with a passion.

    Saying that though i can't get on with blankets either, just can't get and keep all my body warm with a blanket so it's a sleeping bag for me :dblthumb:
     
  14. Old Dirty Bushman

    Old Dirty Bushman Scout

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    If you plan on getting wet, then wool isn't going to keep you warm no matter how many times it's repeated on the internet. Yeah, it still holds some insulating value when wet, but it's like handing an aspirin to a man with third degree burns because hey, aspirin is a painkiller.
     
  15. One Legged Josh

    One Legged Josh Dirt Merchant Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    Wool was keeping wet people warm long before there was an internet.
     
  16. TowerMonkey

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    I"ve been using the same wool blanket for camping since I was 8. It is the Navy version of the wool blanket (same thing just blue and stamped USN). I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything else in any other pack.
     
  17. ranastas

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    I could be wrong but didn't the Norse actually wet their wool blanket wrap themselves up in a sitting position and let the outside frost over
     
  18. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    That all lines up with my experience as far as blankets are concerned. But not so much with outerwear. I don't care to have to take off my cloths and wring them out in sub-freezing weather, but wool drains off better than fleece when just standing in it, IME. Yeah - I know that's not what the thread is about, but I thought it worth mentioning.

    Well, let's see... I embraced the synthetics early on, and have been generally pleased with them as far as they're appropriate for my use. I have a lot of synthetic fleece stuff that I wear in more civilized conditions, but I have gone back to wearing wool outerwear for many years in sub-zero temps. Gone swimming a time or two in same, spent many days in freezing rain and wet snow with same......

    I should be dead, I guess - but I was never even uncomfortable.

    Just like fleece - there are different qualities of wool. The good stuff has worked pretty darn well for me. I am not a "wool fanatic" though. I never liked the knitted wool sweater. These days when it's really cold, I wear the latest synthetic underwear, followed by fleece long johns, covered by wool. Without the wool cover, the fleece won't work as well (especially in wind) and it won't last long against any kind of abrasion. I often go with just the thin synthetic long johns and wool over that - even down below freezing. I can sit on an ice-covered rock for a lot longer in my wool alone than I can with just fleece. This is the way I have dressed for years for long days of hard hunting in Idaho winters (December and January) - and I have never suffered from the cold temps.

    Apply this to the blanket question however it fits. I don't use wool blankets much - but I wouldn't write them off.
     
  19. samuraipastormike

    samuraipastormike Scout

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    I use a bedroll sometimes that is a fleece sleeping bag and an old ww2 army wool blanket over it. It has kept me plenty warm on cold fall nights. I would recommend combining the two IMHO.
     
  20. SwissArmyKnife

    SwissArmyKnife Scout

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    Do they make a fleece blanket with that Omni-Heat silver stuff on one side? From what I'm understanding of the information in this thread a good all weather blanket would be wool top, fleece lined with a simple seam and no quilting so it doesn't hold moisture, and add in the Omni-Heat layer on the bottom it should be able to ward off darn near any foul weather.
     
  21. darodalaf

    darodalaf Guide

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    Having used wool for 40 years and synthetic fleece for about 30 years, I have to agree with many of the points brought up in the comparisons so far.

    I will add that I find that wool's texture and possibly the presence of lanolin seems to delay the soaking of the garment compared to fleece. Thus I prefer wool for an outer layer up to the point where the rain or snow becomes heavy enough to justify putting on a waterproof shell or to seek shelter.

    I also find that while fleece may be warmer weight for weight, of two garments of equivalent insulating value, the fleece will be bulkier.

    Ultimately, I use fleece for car camping, boating and skiing trips -not during the actual activity, but around camp/at put ins/take out- and reserve the wool for backpacking, extended outdoor experiences, and during the actual activities of skiing and boating.

    I would not trade my wool ski pants for fleece ones in a million years. On the other hand, after a long strenuous day, sitting around a winter camp in my heavyweight, plush fleece pants and pullover is quite nice.

    As far as the value of each garment when sopping wet. If I get there, I have made a series of big mistakes. If I could quickly find warm shelter such as a car or building, I would rather build a nice fire and sit there shirtless, even in winter, while my wet clothes dried.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  22. IamRambo

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    A blanket with a DWR treated outer layer, wool midlayer, and fleece lined would sure be nice. For now I just use a thick wool blanket. I would choose the wool over the fleece. Performance of wool > comfort of fleece IMO.
     
  23. Gunns357

    Gunns357 Tracker

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    Wool vs fleece

    You can't beat wool, fleece is like but wool will never let you down, hasty jacket, definitely wool
     
  24. Keyser Söze

    Keyser Söze Usual Suspecto Lifetime Supporter

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    pack them both...go out...unpack them...and use/test them...then...:13::45:
     
  25. Swede6.5x55

    Swede6.5x55 Guide

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    Wool is almost always better than fleece. What you can do is take both, and use the fleece underneath the wool blanket. That'll be super warm. I'd also advise buying a new wool blanket, depending on your budget, them Italian blankets i hear are good. If you are willing to save, they buy a Hudson's Bay point blanket, or a Flison wool blanket. The Filson is cheaper and better for outdoor use i think. The fibers are shorter thus it don't pick up much debris. It's also cheaper by about a hunnert bucks than a Hudson's Bay, then again, a Hudson's Bay is a Hudson's Bay.
     
  26. Shnick

    Shnick Bushwhacker Bushclass II

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    I use both. Wool for my legs and polar fleece for my upper. In a hammock the fleece compresses a lil less from what i notice...
     

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