Surviving Wisconsin Winters, Part 4: Wool — It Does a Body Good

Health

wool for overcoats

This year I have a new go-to layer for winter cycling:  an old, cashmere polo shirt. The warmth is incredible, but it’s also got the buttoned polo collar and short sleeves, so it vents really well.

In my seventh Wisconsin winter, I’ve become a wool convert. Sadly, over the years I’ve stockpiled a whole closet full of Patagonia Capilene. Don’t get me wrong, Capilene is an excellent product. It breathes exceedingly well, and it offers quality insulation without bulk. But I wish I’d spent half that money on wool, instead. It’s so much warmer than any synthetic of comparable weight. (Wool does have its drawbacks.)

And the real killer app of wool is its antimicrobial properties. Don’t we wear wool sweaters months at a time without them getting stinky? We can because of wool’s microbe-fighting powers. By contrast, we wash synthetic base layers after each wearing. I wear wool much longer. Wool thermal bottoms? I wear them three to four days between washings. Longer, even. So even though I only have a few wool baselayers in my closet, I never run out of clean pieces.

Synthetics get stinky fast. The micro-textures of synthetic fibers create the perfect spawning bed for bacteria. Bacteria causes B.O. Even Patagonia garments treated with antimicrobial chemicals have to be washed after each use. Untreated garments get stinky after a few hours just sitting around the house!

Also new for me this winter:  snowboard socks. Check out my post on wool snowboard socks.

(Image credit:  Fashion Color Textile Factory)

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