There are many options to keep you warm when you’re camping. These options can include blankets, sleeping bags, light quilts, and even more.
My wife loves to sit by the campfire and she usually has a wool blanket wrapped around her when she does.
So are wool blankets good for camping?
Wool blankets are not only good for camping but they are excellent. This is because wool can still keep you warm even when wet. This makes a wool blanket a good choice for camping. Another good reason to use wool is it is a natural and renewable insulator and not made from synthetic materials that can harm the enviroment.
Here’s what we will cover so that you can decide if taking a wool blanket is right for you.
In Which Type of Camping Should You Use Wool?
Wool is used for a wide variety of products thanks to its warmth, ability to retain heat when damp, and its durability.
Wool wicks moisture away from your skin and can retain 30% of its weight before you start to feel wet. This makes wool an excellent choice for wet-weather camping.
Wool blankets are excellent for camping, especially RV camping, tent camping, and car camping. The biggest disadvantage of wool is weight. If you’re planning a backpacking trip, wool isn’t the best choice for you.
Although wool blankets may not be the best for backpacking, there’s a wide variety of Alpaca and Merino wool clothing that make excellent base-layers to wear under your regular clothing.
When backpacking, weight, and size are two critical factors to consider when packing. The heavier and bulkier the blanket, the less room you’ll have for other essential gear.
If you’re backpacking, Merino wool and Alpaca wool will be the better options. Both of these types are lightweight, durable, and breathable.
Breathability is vital in both winter and summer months. If you get overheated when it’s cold out, you could sweat and get chilled. In the summer months, Merino and Alpaca are great for cooler evenings, as you usually won’t get overheated in these types of wool.
Are There Different Types of Wool?
There are many different types of wool on the market today. Some of these wools are used for blankets, while others are more suitable for apparel such as beanies, sweaters, scarves, and even bags.
Merino wool and Alpaca wool are the two leading types in the outdoor industry right now. Brands like SmartWool, Icebreaker, Patagonia, and DarnTough all offer a wide range of Merino wool products to keep you warm and dry.
The main differences in wools include price, weight, packability, and breathability.
- Wool – Sheep
This type of wool is usually referred to as just “wool.” Sheep wool is the most widely used type of knitting, as it is generally the least expensive.
Sheep’s wool must be appropriately maintained, as it will shrink more easily than other types. This type of wool tends to be itchier than others. Wool is also susceptible to “pilling,” which is when fibers begin to break away from the fabric.
Sheep’s wool is very bulky, and if it gets wet, it will get heavier. That being said, sheep’s wool will insulate you better when it’s wet than many other fabrics will when they’re wet. This makes wool an excellent choice for emergencies.
- Lamb’s Wool – Lamb
Lamb’s wool is a bit different, as it is sheered from the sheep when it’s only a few months old. This gives it a more soft, smooth, and firm texture, meaning that it won’t wrinkle or shrink as easily.
Lamb’s wool can only come from the sheep once, which makes lamb’s wool a bit more expensive.
- Merino – Merino Sheep
Compared to lamb’s wool, Merino wool is much finer and less scaly, making it lighter weight. Thanks to these smaller fibers, it’s much less likely to wrinkle and shrink.
Merino wool is an excellent insulator, but it is breathable. This breathability will keep you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s warm.
Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant and anti-microbial. This is a considerable benefit in outdoor gear, as you may not have the chance to wash it very often.
- Cashmere – Cashmere Goat
Cashmere is considered the most luxurious type of wool. The fibers are tiny, lightweight, and strong. Cashmere tends to be much less itchy thanks to the small fibers.
Often, it takes two cashmere goats to make one sweater. This makes it a bit more expensive than most wools.
Cashmere wool, similar to Merino wool, is breathable. This makes it excellent for both winter and spring.
- Mohair – Angora Goat
Mohair has a silk-like texture, making it very soft and somewhat shiny. Unlike other wools, Mohair does not have many scales.
The lack of scales on Mohair makes it very strong and hard to shrink and wrinkle.
- Angora – Angora Rabbit
Angora wool, not to be confused with the goat, is very lightweight and fluffy wool. The fibers are hollow, which is what makes it so lightweight.
Due to how small Angora wool is, it’s usually only used as an accent like a collar or something similar. It takes a lot of furs to make this wool, and the process is extensive, making it very expensive.
- Alpaca – Alpaca, a Llama Like Mammal
Alpaca wool is lightweight, silky, durable, and soft. It is becoming more popular amongst outdoor gear, as it is warmer and lighter than sheep’s wool.
Unlike other wools, Alpaca is naturally available in several colors.
Which Type of Wool is Best?
If you’re camping close to your vehicle or in an RV, any wool will work just fine, as you don’t have to carry it very far. Merino, Cashmere, and Alpaca wool will be the warmer options when camping, although any type will work in this camping situation.
If you’re backpacking, Merino and Alpaca will be the lightest, most packable options. These types of wool are great for both blankets and clothing such as shirts, hats, socks, and gloves. Even base-layer pants can be purchased that are made of wool.
If you only have the option of sheep’s wool, you can layer up at night and prevent any itching. Also, always be sure to properly care for your wool, as this will add to the durability and lifespan of your blanket.
Sheep’s wool is not a bad option, it’s merely just heavier, and it may be itchier than other types of wool.
Are There Materials Better Than Wool?
It all comes down to preference. Fleece, down, and some synthetics can work just as well if not better than wool. If you’re backpacking, down or fleece is a better option than wool.
Down and fleece are very packable and lightweight, making them an excellent choice for backpacking. Down sleeping bags, especially higher fill-counts like 850, will be the warmest and most packable option.
Although fleece may not always be as warm as wool, you can wear base-layers made of Merino of Alpaca wool to add insulation. These layers will help you stay warm, while still having breathable insulation.
Caring for Your Wool Blanket
Wool, especially sheep’s wool, can be a bit fragile when it comes to cleaning. You want to take all measures possible to keep it clean, as pilling, shrinking, and wrinkling can occur if not taken care of properly.
Keep the following steps in mind, especially when using your blanket for camping. Be sure to clean whatever wool gear you have as soon as you get home to assure that it stays in tip-top shape.
- Use a soft-bristle brush to brush the blanket. Always be sure the strokes are in the same direction. This will assure that the fibers stay together and can extend the life of your blanket.
- Clean liquid stains immediately if possible. Once a stain sets into wool, it is tough to get the stain out due to the density of wool.
- If the blanket needs to be washed, let the blanket soak in a detergent-water mix for fifteen minutes. Afterward, use a gentle cycle setting on the washer, and wash with cold water. Always be sure to use wool-safe detergent.
- Hang your wool blankets up to dry. Make sure that you don’t hang your wool in direct sunlight, as this can cause colors to fade, and the wool may dry too quickly, making it feel coarse. Avoid putting wool in a dryer. Putting your wool in the dryer can crush the fibers, and it can lose its softness.
- Store your wool in a cool, dark place. Heat and direct sunlight can easily fade even the highest quality wool.
- Never use harsh chemicals on wool, even if you have tough stains to remove.
- Never scrub your wool, this can cause damage to the fibers and shorten the lifespan of the blanket.
In short, wool is not a bad option at all for camping. The main thing to consider is which type of wool best suits your needs, and what your budget is.
Always consider the situation in which you plan to use your blanket. Many people put blankets on the ground to sit by a fire. If this is you, be aware that wool picks up dirt much more easily than other blankets, so it may be much harder to keep clean in this situation.
Always remember that base-layers are essential when camping in cold temperatures. These layers will be snug to your body and help your body retain heat. This is extremely helpful as you won’t need quite as thick of a blanket.
Whether backpacking or camping close to your vehicle, there are wool options on the market to fit every outdoorsman’s needs.
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