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FEATURE:Wool or synthetics? The results might surprise you!
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socialclimber


Jun 18, 2006, 4:38 AM
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FEATURE:Wool or synthetics? The results might surprise you!
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Break out Grandads old tweed jacket and woolly socks, it looks like he might have known a thing or two when it came to dressing for the mountains. Discovery Channel.ca has the story


roy_hinkley_jr


Jun 18, 2006, 8:33 AM
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Re: FEATURE:Wool or synthetics? The results might surprise y [In reply to]
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Weak stuff. The BBC reported he only used it for 2 days on Everest, at lower altitudes, and in nice weather. They also don't mention what modern gear the comparison is made against but the comments make it clear that it wasn't state-of-the-art, so not at all apples to apples.

Besides, a Social Climber wears a tuxedo not a tweed jacket.


socialclimber


Jun 18, 2006, 4:33 PM
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Yep, there was a lot of puff and not much filling in the article but it's the first time I had seen anything on this topic. The first thing I thought of was the disadvantage the old gear would have with breath-ability. I worked for some years in an industry where heavy duty PVC wet weather gear was my standard work clothes. This kind of wet weather gear doesn't breath at all and presented all sorts of problems including on a few occasions helping bringing us to the point of mild hypothermia. Many times conditions were cold but not as cold as Everest even on a good day. I'm pretty sure gabardine and oil skins didn't breath any better than my old PVC duck suit.

I would love to see more solid information on this though. Natural materials are making something of a comeback, in particular I'm thinking of wool. The disadvantages of wool for first and mid layer clothing have mostly been addressed. If the stuff didn't cost an arm and a leg to buy it would be perfect! :)

A social climber might wear a tux but a gentleman climber surly would wear tweed?


Partner j_ung


Jun 25, 2006, 9:30 AM
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Re: FEATURE:Wool or synthetics? The results might surprise y [In reply to]
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I'm honestly not surprised. Merino wool was all the rage at the last OR Show.


gunkiemike


Jun 25, 2006, 1:43 PM
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Inspired by all the recent hype over wool, I decided to try it again. I was raised on the stuff, virtually living in it for weeks at a time in the 70's. So I dusted off my best remaining merino top and bought a new one from Smartwool.

I am not impressed.

Compared to the best wicking synthetic tops, the benefits of wool are still 90% marketing hype. The simple fact is that wool absorbs and holds moisture. Lots of moisture. Bang out a steep uphill approach to an ice climb and you're going to be damp all day. Compared to a synthetic top that gets damp then dries in the time it takes for the second to clean the pitch. I have spent days out in truly disgusting weather absolutely amazed at how dry I am inside my clothes. Not so with wool.

So those merinos are going back in the box in the closet along with my Dachstein mitts, my Malone pants, and my Woolrich knickers and Stag Shirt.


slimper


Jun 25, 2006, 2:01 PM
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Re: FEATURE:Wool or synthetics? The results might surprise y [In reply to]
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I can vouch for Merino wool. I received some as a gift this winter. After I wearing it, I'll never go back to synthetic. True, it's pricey, but it doesn't stink!!!!


roy_hinkley_jr


Jun 25, 2006, 4:50 PM
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In reply to:
I am not impressed.

Compared to the best wicking synthetic tops, the benefits of wool are still 90% marketing hype. The simple fact is that wool absorbs and holds moisture. Lots of moisture. Bang out a steep uphill approach to an ice climb and you're going to be damp all day. Compared to a synthetic top that gets damp then dries in the time it takes for the second to clean the pitch. I have spent days out in truly disgusting weather absolutely amazed at how dry I am inside my clothes. Not so with wool.

Yup, merino is the latest hype in the outdoor industry because they can charge obscene amounts of money for inferior performance. Notice that none of the reviewers who rave actually paid full retail and most compare it to outdated synthetics. Merino soaks up a lot of water and takes forever to dry. Period. "Warm when wet" is a crock, more like "somewhat less uncomfortable when wet than cotton" and nowhere near as good as the "warm and dry" you get with good synthetics. Even the anti-odor hype is overblown marketing when compared to modern materials. All of the production is in China these days too and raising sheep is hard on the environment so even the PC story is hype.


jaybro


Jun 26, 2006, 12:33 AM
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wool doesn't get as funky, or feel as creepy. synthos do have undeniable practical benifits, however.


adnix


Jun 26, 2006, 10:32 AM
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If you have the possibility of washing gear every two days synthetics are fine. But if that's not possible (ie. expeditions, alpine) I'd go for Merino.

I once did a test. I had Merino boxers I had used for two weeks straight. They were beginning to stink little but I didn't have any chance of washing them. So decided to wear my synthetic ones. In two days I got skin problems and had to wear the Merino again. The skin problems healed in few days and I threw the synthetic boxers to dumpster.

Back home I wear synthetics but every time I go outdoors I wear Merino.


adnix


Jun 26, 2006, 10:40 AM
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In reply to:
Merino soaks up a lot of water and takes forever to dry. Period.
Base layer dries very fast, no matter what the material. Did you know you can dry leather (yes, leather) gloves with below 0F temperaturs? Just wear them inside your sleeping bag for one night. Once you wake up they are very dry.

In reply to:
Even the anti-odor hype is overblown marketing when compared to modern materials.
Give me one synthetic base layer that smells less than Merino. I'll promise to check it out.


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