SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.


» Welcome Guest
[ Log In :: Register ]

 

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic new topic new poll
Topic: Fleece vs, Wool, Is Wool Obsolete< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1024
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 9:22 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not doing much backpacking right not but a lot of work outside in the cold.

Got to thinking I hardly every wear wool anymore unless it is dress clothes.  Now I usually wear fleece.   A down jacket is on the backpacking wish list but it would not hold up well for serious work I'm afraid.

Are their outdoors applications where wool still beats fleece?

I used to be a bigh wool fan but fleece seems lighter, less itchy, and less expensive.

Thoughts?
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 2
GoBlueHiker Search for posts by this member.
Obsessive Island Hopper...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 15893
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 9:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Feb. 04 2013, 7:22 pm)
QUOTE
Are their outdoors applications where wool still beats fleece?

Socks and merino base layers, IMO.

--------------
Wealth needs more.  Happiness needs less.  Simplify.

www.RainForestTreks.com
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 3
TigerFan Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2606
Joined: May 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Opposite trend for me.  I wear wool almost daily, whether it's for work or around the house or on the trail.  It's now also year-round instead of just the cold months.  

Combination of reasons -- more manufacturers, so more sales and reasonable prices, they've gotten much easier to wash, and they now come in really fine yarns that I can wear year-round, including T-shirts.

I still wear fleece but more as an insulation layer.  All my baselayers are wool.  All my socks are wool.  I hike in wool T-shirts, too.  I buy fewer synthetics in general.


--------------
Duct tape is like the Force.  It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 4
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1024
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Feb. 04 2013, 9:59 pm)
QUOTE

(Three @ Feb. 04 2013, 7:22 pm)
QUOTE
Are their outdoors applications where wool still beats fleece?

Socks and merino base layers, IMO.

I've heard great things about merino base layers but too much $$$ for me now and I'm sold on Smartwool socks.

I guess I was thinking about sweaters or intermediate layer garments.  I have an old Wooly Pully sweater that I used to wear a lot.  Now it pretty much sits on the shelf.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 5
toesnorth Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2680
Joined: Jan. 2007
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I also wear merino wool as a base layer and socks.

--------------
"Failure is never as frightening as regret."
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 6
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1024
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Feb. 04 2013, 10:05 pm)
QUOTE
Opposite trend for me.  I wear wool almost daily, whether it's for work or around the house or on the trail.  It's now also year-round instead of just the cold months.  

Combination of reasons -- more manufacturers, so more sales and reasonable prices, they've gotten much easier to wash, and they now come in really fine yarns that I can wear year-round, including T-shirts.

I still wear fleece but more as an insulation layer.  All my baselayers are wool.  All my socks are wool.  I hike in wool T-shirts, too.  I buy fewer synthetics in general.

Merino?   I'd be interested in the brand of long sleeve tee.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 7
hikerjer Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 10622
Joined: Apr. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Merino wool is nice, but man, it's expensive.  That said, I mostly use fleece.

--------------
"Too often I have met men who boast only of how many miles they've traveled and not of what they've seen."  -  Louis L'Amour
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 8
big_load Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 23553
Joined: Jun. 2004
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another vote for base layers (several different weights) and socks.  Sometimes also a hat.  For anything as warm as sweater, I often skip past fleece and go to lightweight puffy insulation.

Off the trail, I wear wool every day, at work and at home.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 9
TrailTramper Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1534
Joined: Sep. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I like the feel of fleece but am not satisfied with the durability. My fleeces don't last more than a couple of years. Hard to wash. A wool jacket lasts forever. Wool mittens are great.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 10
TigerFan Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2606
Joined: May 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 11:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Feb. 04 2013, 10:15 pm)
QUOTE
Merino?   I'd be interested in the brand of long sleeve tee.

Let's see, I have long-sleeved merino crews in 120g to 170g weights from Patagonia, Sugoi and Smartwool.  The Patagonia Merino 1's are the lightest (120g, I think?) and the Sugoi ones are the most like a light sweater but super comfortable.

--------------
Duct tape is like the Force.  It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 11
SmokeyBear Search for posts by this member.
I know shoe-fu
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 3805
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 12:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wool has made a big comeback in the last few years, with high quality merino on the market. It's expensive but much cheaper than it used to be. If it was comparable in price to synthetics you'd probably find it in similar quantities. As mentioned by others it is mostly in base layers and socks, which make sense due to the great wicking and odour control capabilities of wool. That being said, I don't find it wicks as well as good synthetics. But as a person who isn't normally very smelly, my polyester shirts stink like a week in the bush after a 30 minute run. My merino t-shirt smelled darn near fresh after a 3 day backpacking trip last year.

I do find mild itching even from merino though, at least when it is new. Still, if I could afford it, I'd buy all merino baselayers and jackets.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 12
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7085
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 12:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Merino wool in thin baselayers certainly but it won't be in thicker insulating garments since it is heavy while wet (though it still insulates).   Fleece will not absorb much water.  Still think you can get a wool shirt or light jacket, but that's more for car camping by the booze-induced campfire, where modern synthetics may burn especially when playing Evil Kineivel over the flames.

--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 13
eggs Search for posts by this member.
That's sofa King assume
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 4334
Joined: Nov. 2007
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 5:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Keep on eye on Steep and Cheap for Stoic branded wool tee and base layers wonderful stuff and far cheaper.

I used hate buying smart wool mid-weight zip neck shirts for $80 5 years ago. Now they are $120 and the fit is not as nice as the older ones. I should have bought ten back then.

Just goes to remind us when you find something good buy a crap load since the manufacturer will change the style of cut over time


--------------
Eggs
Home of the egg
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 14
TrailTromper Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 150
Joined: Mar. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 6:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For me it is.  I am old enough to remember when wool was the only way to go in wet situations and I was a whitewater boater at the time.  I was extremely happy when synthetics came on the scene and delighted to abandon wool.

I still held out on synthetics in favor of wool for socks for quite a while after, but on a coast to coast bicycle trip I took both and found the wool ones sucked in comparison to the synthetic ones especially in wet conditions.  They absorbed more water, dried much slower, and felt worse when wet.  This was a surprise to me.

The bigger surprise to me was that the smartwool socks stunk worse than the poly ones by a large margin and were the stinkiest item I had along on the trip.  I know that lack of stink is supposed to be a hallmark of wool, but for me it does not seem to be the case.  I do find that some of my synthetic gear gets a stench while other pieces do not.  On multi day, week, or month trips I leave the ones inclined to stinking at home.  I save the ones that stink when worn repeatedly without washing for single day wear while trail running at home.

I will say that I have tried other synthetic socks that were not as nice in the wet as the ones I used for that trip, even though the label listed the same blend.  The ones I liked were cheap-ish Under Armor polyester ones that come 4 to a pack.  I have since been trail running and backpacking in the same Under Armor socks and been quite happy with them.  I find that they go from soaked to damp quickly and are comfy when still fairly wet.

I have found that for shirts and tights wool soaks up a lot of water and seems to never dry unless in a very dry environment.  Where it is humid every day it never seems to dry.  When it comes to putting on damp gear...  I really don't mind either all that much as long as it isn't soaked and drippy.  For me that favors synthetics.

Oh. and I find that synthetics wear longer at least for the thinner items.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 15
SmokeyBear Search for posts by this member.
I know shoe-fu
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 3805
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 8:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tromper - a good call on many points. Wool does tend to hold more moisture and dry slower, and is probably better for hiking where you might expect to get damp from sweat but not lots of rain. I agree, with wicking of many synthetics is superior and the feeling when damp better - though not always. I have some synthetic shirts that feel like plastic bags when wet - though they are older ones and I have much better newer ones.

I like my synthetic underarmour underwear - they breathe well and don't stink. That being said, the artificial anti-stink properties of synthetics are temporary and will disappear with wear and washes all too quickly while wool tends to stay good for the life of the product. I'm surprise wool smells so much for you, maybe those are some pretty heavily worn items? I have a pair of merino boxers but couldn't wear them because they gave me a rash in the wrong kind of places. Maybe a better quality pair (icebreaker) would be better.

I really like wool, but it's definitely not magic, and synthetics have come a LONG way in the last few years. I'll have to check out those underarmour socks you mentioned.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 16
GoBlueHiker Search for posts by this member.
Obsessive Island Hopper...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 15893
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 10:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

TT, just curious... what synthetic socks did you use?

The ones I have are definitely stinkier than their wool counterparts, at least on my feet.  I can even tell the difference just after a day wearing them at work and home.  But not all synthetics are created equal.  I'd be curious to hear what you used that worked so well for you.


--------------
Wealth needs more.  Happiness needs less.  Simplify.

www.RainForestTreks.com
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 17
leadbelly2550 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1075
Joined: Apr. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 10:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

like most above, i use merino blend socks all the time, from light running socks all the way to expedition weight.

i wear merino blend tops a lot.  for 't-shirt weather,' which i will loosely define as starting somewhere high 40s/low 50s and up, i prefer merino wool t shirts for all but the most brutally hot/humid weather.  when it's colder and i'm out on trips, needing to stay dry, i tend to prefer synthetics because they are easier to 'wear dry.'

when i don't have concerns about dry time - shoveling, out walking around locally - i'll sometimes wear a wool sweater rather than fleece.  depends.  

what kind of fleece is someone wearing that only lasts a few years? i have a couple of fleece jackets that are 20+  years old.  they aren't pretty, they have pilled some, but their function hasn't much declined, and they wear extremely well.  i had a few heavyweight 100% merino base layers that didn't do so well, tore holes in the arms.  merino is much more durable with a little nylon or polyester blended in, in my experience.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 18
wcolucci Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2033
Joined: Feb. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 11:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've been happiest w a wool blend sock...especially in wet conditions.  No appreciable difference to me between them or all wool in dry.

As far as baselayers, I cannot wear wool unless it is a really short trip or lounging at camp...On three 10+ mile days my thin wool baselayer destroyed my skin at the armpits and where the hip belt rubbed on one side...I literally have a scar on my left side...."funny story how I got this scar kids"

I have been rethinking fleece as my insulating layer rather than down...yeah it is bulky but I tried it the last two times out and just stuffed it under my pack lid instead of gobbling up space in the pack.....just seems warmer to me.


--------------
getting old stinks...but it beats the alternative
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 19
TrailTromper Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 150
Joined: Mar. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 11:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Feb. 05 2013, 10:27 am)
QUOTE
TT, just curious... what synthetic socks did you use?

The ones I have are definitely stinkier than their wool counterparts, at least on my feet.  I can even tell the difference just after a day wearing them at work and home.  But not all synthetics are created equal.  I'd be curious to hear what you used that worked so well for you.

I used the UnderArmor ones that come 4 pairs to a pack for about $15.  They are the low cut ones.  I think that I have used both the "heat gear" and "resistor" ones.

I assumed that other poly socks would be similar, but the Nikes I tried didn't work out as well as far as comfort, but I didn't really notice any stink.

It is possible that the wool stink problem I observed is related to my body chemistry or something.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 20
TrailTromper Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 150
Joined: Mar. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 12:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 05 2013, 8:24 am)
QUOTE
That being said, the artificial anti-stink properties of synthetics are temporary and will disappear with wear and washes all too quickly while wool tends to stay good for the life of the product.

That has seemed pretty variable in my experience.  I have some that seem fine after at least scores of washings if not hundreds and others that were never very good even when new.

Also I find that some are good for a long time and then after seeming to lose their anti stink properties return to working well after a hot wash.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 21
Tigger Search for posts by this member.
Woods Pouncer
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 11725
Joined: Apr. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 12:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My favorite base layers are Merino wool for temp moderation. I save them for camp. When hiking, I prefer the super quick dry feature of my synthetics as I tend to push myself when hiking. In general, fleece is too warm for me to hike in but I sometimes will bring a fleece mid layer in summer. The last few years, my setup has been two base layers (one for hiking, one for camp) and down for insulation along with a rainshell. I can be comfortable in pretty much any conditions with that combination.

--------------
If I'm going to be lost, in the woods is where I want to be...
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 22
booyah Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1970
Joined: Jun. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 2:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Feb. 04 2013, 9:22 pm)
QUOTE
Are their outdoors applications where wool still beats fleece?

Easy one, on a cold night, ever cosy up to a campfire thats heavy in pine?

Ever wake up the next morning and swear at all the melt holes in your fleece?

I know I sure have  :D
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 23
Owen571 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 961
Joined: Apr. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 3:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(leadbelly2550 @ Feb. 05 2013, 9:58 am)
QUOTE
when i don't have concerns about dry time -  

I like how you put that. I'm well aware of how merino is often overhyped online, since I "test" baselayers out in the elements 7 days a week this time of year, but I do prefer it sometimes. I'm outdoors all night on my job, and find it more comfortable on my skin than most, or any, synthetics, and it doesn't get stinky if I wear it for multiple nights.

If I expect to be more busy than usual due to bad conditions(the wetter or colder the more I'm out in it, and the more work I'm doing), I wear synthetics, though. Same for backpacking. I hike in synthetics, but the baselayers I have for around camp and sleeping in are usually merino wool.  Comfy stuff, but I'll take Capilene 1-3 any time I'm exerting and want breathability, moisture management, and quick dry time.


(wcolucci @ Feb. 05 2013, 10:33 am)
QUOTE
I have been rethinking fleece as my insulating layer rather than down...yeah it is bulky but I tried it the last two times out and just stuffed it under my pack lid instead of gobbling up space in the pack.....just seems warmer to me.

I did that a couple of weeks ago, using an older style Patagonia R2 jacket instead of my down one. Warm, and very breathable, and I actually hiked in it for a little while when starting out in the morning in the upper teens(which was really nice, not freezing the first couple of miles!).
Weighs the same as my down jacket, and is more versatile. The down jacket is more compact, and makes a better pillow when stuffed in its pocket or a ditty bag. Pretty sure the down is warmer, too.
I've been thinking about it, too, just don't have a clear preference just yet.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 24
SmokeyBear Search for posts by this member.
I know shoe-fu
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 3805
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 5:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wonder if there'd be value in in synthetic/wool blends for baselayers? Unlike socks it seems that baselayers are either one or the other. A blend might improve wicking and reducing dry time vs wool but keep that wool feel, warmth, and odour control.

I've definitely found my icebreaker t-shirt stayed damp from sweat more than my synthetics when hiking, but felt more comfortable and notably warmer when wet compared to synthetics. I also appreciated that it barely smelled after many days of sweating it out. I love my capilene 3 top but after only a few wears it's started to get its stink on much more quickly.

All told there is just something I love about wool, but ultimately synthetics do have advantages (including cost).
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 25
TDale Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 14807
Joined: Jun. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 6:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

My two favorite insulation layers are wool sweaters.  They hug the body better.  They are light if chosen correctly.

--------------
"Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again...They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
24 replies since Feb. 04 2013, 9:22 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]


 
reply to topic new topic new poll

» Quick Reply Fleece vs, Wool
iB Code Buttons
You are posting as:

Do you wish to enable your signature for this post?
Do you wish to enable emoticons for this post?
Track this topic
View All Emoticons
View iB Code



Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions