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Wool: the Survivalists Fiber/Fabric

To me, wool is the “survivalist’s fiber/fabric” due to its unique properties that make it especially valuable in survival or outdoor scenarios.

And to be clear: Wool is not a fabric in and of itself; rather, it is a natural fiber. When wool fibers are spun into yarn and then woven or knitted together, they form a fabric.

Wool: the Survivalists Fiber/Fabric

Wool, a natural fiber that has been cherished for millennia, is not just a relic of the past but a material that offers a bunch of benefits in the modern world, especially in survival situations. From sweaters and socks to blankets, wool is versatile and perfect for any survivalist.

In this post, we’ll delve into the incredible benefits of wool that make it a standout choice for various applications.

Thermal Insulation: The Magic of Wool’s Structure

Wool is a marvel of nature, and its thermal insulation properties are a testament to this. At the heart of wool’s insulating prowess is its unique structure, characterized by its natural crimp and elasticity. But how does this structure translate to keeping us warm in the winter and cool in the summer?

The crimp in wool fibers refers to their natural wavy shape. This waviness is not just a superficial characteristic; it plays a pivotal role in insulation. When wool fibers are packed together, the crimps cause the fibers to interlock in a way that creates tiny air pockets. Air is a poor conductor of heat, meaning it doesn’t easily allow heat to pass through. These air pockets, therefore, act as miniature insulators, trapping body heat and preventing it from escaping.

Elasticity in wool fibers ensures that they return to their original shape after being stretched or compressed. This means that even after a blanket has been jammed in a bag for long time, those tiny air pockets remain intact. The consistent presence of these pockets ensures that the insulating properties of wool are maintained over time.

Those same air pockets that trap warmth during colder months also play a role in warmer temperatures. In the heat, the pockets act as barriers against external warmth, preventing excessive heat from reaching the skin. Additionally, wool’s moisture-wicking properties come into play, drawing sweat away from the skin and allowing it to evaporate, providing a cooling effect.

Moisture Management of Wool

Did you know wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp? This unique property ensures you remain dry and comfortable, as wool efficiently wicks away sweat and moisture.


Unlike some materials that trap moisture, wool fibers allow it to pass through, helping regulate body temperature and ensuring you stay comfortable in varying conditions.

Odor Resistance

Thanks to its moisture management and lanolin content, wool is naturally resistant to bacteria and mildew, which are often the culprits behind unpleasant odors.

Fire Resistance

Wool is naturally flame-resistant, with a high ignition temperature. Even better, it self-extinguishes when removed from a flame source.

Durability and Elasticity

Wool fibers are incredibly resilient. They can bend back on themselves over 20,000 times without breaking, ensuring your woolen garments and products last for years.

Is wool hypoallergenic?

For those with sensitive skin: Wool’s resistance to bacteria, mold, and mildew makes it a hypoallergenic choice.

Does wool come from sheep?

Yes, wool primarily comes from sheep. Sheep have been domesticated and bred for their wool for thousands of years. The wool is harvested from the sheep through a process called shearing, where the thick coat of woolen hair is cut off, typically once a year.

Does any fabric beat wool?

The answer depends on the specific scenario or the needs of the individual. Some synthetic materials, like polypropylene or certain polyester blends, dry faster than wool and can be lighter. Down provides excellent insulation for its weight but loses its insulating properties when wet. Merino wool, a specific type of wool, combines many of wool’s benefits but with a softer feel, making it less itchy for some people.

In survival situations, layering is often the key. A combination of materials, including wool, synthetics, and down, can provide the best overall protection and adaptability to changing conditions.

Are there any drawbacks of Wool?

  • Weight: When saturated, wool can become heavy.
  • Drying Time: Wool can take a longer time to dry compared to some synthetic materials.
  • Care: Wool requires more careful care to prevent shrinking or felting.
  • Cost: Quality wool garments can be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

In conclusion, wool is not just a fabric; it’s a testament to nature’s brilliance. Its benefits make it an excellent choice for those who value comfort, sustainability, and timelessness with a purpose.