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All You Need is Wool

All you need is wool (plus a little seersucker, sucker)

If the outer space people came here today and studied hikers, climbers, outdoor magazine cover models, and cyclists, they'd go home and report that outdoor exercise and comfort and survival require sythetic materials. Synthetics are so pervasive that a person only slightly off his or her rocker might wonder: Does wool really and truly work?

We wouldn't be here if it didn't, and neither would sheep. Wool has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in the snowy slopes of the Andes, the oven-like wastelands of Afghanistan, and the bitter cold deserts of Afghanistan. It will keep you comfortable in suburbia, the woods, the mountains, and on the coast.

Wool regulates body heat much better than polyanything does, so you're more comfortable in a wider range of temperatures. A wool fiber is far more complex than a synthetic one, and its complication evolved to protect sheep roaming the icy crags of Scotland or the blistering hot ranges a half a world away in Australia. There may be extremes of climate where you live that now and then call out for something other than wool, but day in and day out, when you're outside, the best thing to wear is wool.

Norwegian fishermen used to dip their wool mittens in water before heading out on deck. It wasn't to be done with the inevitable; it was to prepare for the immediate need of warm hands. The fact is, wet wool is warmer than dry wool. This isn't ancient myth poppycock. It's provable in a lab. I've seen it with my own eyes. AND IT'S NOT JUST A LITTLE WARMER; IT'S A LOT WARMER. Ten to twenty percent.

Wool is incredible. It's the allaround best fabric in the universe.

Besides all that, wool just feels better. Compared to the scientifically produced consistency and freaky weightlessness of polar fleece and despite modern wool science's attempt to soften it beyond reason, wool has texture you can feel and see, and once you become familiar with it, you'll insist on it.

And then there's the stink factor. Unlike synthetics, which stink when they're dirty with sweat, wool doesn't stink after you've sweated in it, so you can wear it many times before you need to wash it. Once you collect a few sleeveless t's, short-sleeved t's, long-sleeved t's of various weights, and a few jerseys and heavier sweaters, you're loaded for bear and won't have more than a couple of wool loads a month, if you wear it and sweat in it every day.

The clothing you wrap yourself in becomes your immediate environment, and plays a huge role in your outdoor experience. How it looks, feels, sounds when it flaps in the wind, and smells after the third day without washing depends on what it's made of. Wear synthetics at the mall and disco. Out in the world, wear wool!

Washing and drying it
Do you think wool would have remained popular through the centuries if it disintegrated when it was washed? Do you think the laundry methods of the 1300s were gentler than a cycle in your Whirlpool? Don't make me guffaw.

The fact is, the wool we offer is easy to care for. You can take special care with it if you like, if it makes you feel good and lets you sleep better at night, but it's not entirely necessary. Following is a rough way to care for wool, and then a soft way to care for it, and they both work.

Soap: Whatever you have, but nothing with bleach in it. Water: Warm Dryer: Warm

Wool laundered this way will shrink about half a size. It won't get wrecked. We'd like to see you treat it with slightly more care, but if you can't be bothered, that's quite all right.

Soap: Kookabura (we sell it), or Ivory detergent, or pretty much any earth-friendly suds sold by hippies or in a cardboard box adorned with at least one drawing of the earth, and word such as "enviro" and "friendly" and "non-toxic" and "bio-degradable" on it. Water: Warm or cold Dryer: Air. If you want speedy drying, roll it in a towel, stomp the towel, then unroll the towel and lay it flat or hang it up or something.

The main thing is: Don't fear wool. Don't save it for special occasions. Don't look back on a life in which you were afraid to wear wool for fear of wearing it out or something.

beats wool and everything else in blasting hot weather. Light, puckery cotton that doesn't lay on your skin, billows up around you, increase ventilation and convectionhard to beat that when it's super hot out!

Check our our clothing selection, where you'll find plenty of wool and a little bit of seersucker.