From the Italian Alps to Lapland, wool has been key for survival when temperatures dropped below zero. But, it was heavy and unwieldy. As new fabric—like cotton— became available, and our homes got warmer, wool made an exit from everyday life.
Wool continues to have a reputation for being inconvenient and uncomfortable. Except for in the Scandinavian countries. Here, it has made a significant comeback. Best of all, in the shape of soft, lightweight products that work year-round, are machine-washable, and are fashionable.
Here’s why you should buy wool this season. Keeping you warm is only one of the benefits.
Wool keeps you dry
Wool has amazing moisture-absorbing powers. Compared to cotton, wool is capable of absorbing 5 times the amount of moisture from your body without feeling wet. This means, even if you get a little bit warm and break a sweat, wool will absorb the excess moisture, and you’ll stay dry.
Wool keeps you cool
Whoa! What! You might be surprised to know that wool products may work just as well for you in the summer as in the winter. Nomadic people in the Middle East and Northern Africa have chosen wool garments for hundreds of years to trek across some of the warmest places on the planet. Wool is made of long, twisted threads, which creates millions of tiny holes that helps transport heat away from the body. So, feel free to bring out your wool in the spring, summer, and fall without worrying about overheating.
Maybe even try a nice wool suit. Many men in the Scandinavian countries and across Europe swear by wool, even during the warmer months. It looks great, and best of all, it doesn’t wrinkle.
Wool allows for movement
Today’s wool products are soft and elastic allowing for flexibility during movement. Wool base- or mid-layers are particularly good for skiing and other outdoor activities during spring, fall, and winter. As consumers, we have a tendency to default to synthetic products when it comes to our active wear. Next time you shop for baselayers, running gear, or even cycling gear, try out some lightweight wool products. You’ll not be disappointed.
Wool manages odors
From natures side, wool has anti-bacterial qualities. Sheep emit lanolin, which serves as a durable water repellent and keeps them dry in wet weather. While some lanolin is washed out during processing, just enough is kept to prevent bacteria and mildew build-up in your active wear. This means a much nicer-smelling you when you’re active.
Wool is self-cleaning
It just seems to get better and better, and this one is particularly difficult to believe, but it’s true. Simply hang your wool outside to air out, and voila, it’s as good as new. This makes it particularly convenient for camping. Of course, it doesn’t take care of potential stains – say, when you use wool on a daily basis for your child. Luckily, today’s wool products are usually machine washable, and some even go in the drier.
Wool improves sleep
The features of wool provides the perfect cocktail for some serious snoozing. A prerequisite for a good night’s sleep is the correct temperature. Because wool keeps you warm when needed, dry when needed, and cool when needed, it helps regulate your body temperature. This is of particular benefit to babies, who have trouble regulating their own temperature.
I recently chose to purchase a custom-made wool mattress for my daughter’s crib. First of all because the only two mattresses available for the bed — a Stokke Sleepi — in the US were hard-as-rock. But, most of all because more and more studies show that wool could improve sleep by up to 25%. She wasn’t a good sleeper. While she still wakes on occasion, the combination of the wool mattress and her wool-onesies seem to have put her into a deeper sleep.
My story is not unique. Many parents of children with eczema swear by wool products as well as it seems to improve sleep and decrease the occurrence of dry spots and irritation.
Wool is perfect for kids
Because of its flexibility and features wool is an excellent choice for children. Our little ones are constantly shifting between being on the move and sitting still. They run, crawl, dance, and jump around one minute, but will sit still and draw the next. They need clothing that gives them the freedom to play and move around without feeling constricted and overheated. Then switch to sitting still without feeling wet from sweat and getting too cold. Wool allows for this flexibility during playtime.
In Scandinavia, you can purchase stylish wool products at different price levels. On a recent trip home, Istocked up on several onesies and base layers for less than $10 to $20 a piece, as well as gloves, hats, and socks. Finding inexpensive wool in the US is more difficult. Here you may have to shell out a bit more. Nonetheless, you will get high-quality products that will last you a lifetime.
Just remember, before you shop, there are different kinds of wool, with Merino wool being one of the finest, softest, and most functional.