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Are wool blankets good for camping?
You better believe it! For avid campers, a wool blanket is a necessity.
Not only is a wool blanket the warmest, but they’re also naturally durable, lightweight, water-resistant, antimicrobial, dirt shedding, and can even provide 30+ UV protection from the sun.
Now that you know what is the warmest blanket for camping, you can learn more about the best brands, what features to look for, and how to care for them down below.
Best Wool Blankets for Camping
Best Overall – Woolly Mammoth Wool Blanket
This blanket is woven with 80% premium virgin Merino wool, which means we do not use any recycled wool in our blankets. For enhanced durability, we have added a small amount of acrylic to the warp and weft. Our blankets are woven using a twill weave.
- Large enough for complete body coverage
- Density of weave increases warmth without bulk
- Softer weave than other wool blankets
- Safe to spot-clean
- Dry-clean only (an additional expense)
- Slight “sheep” odor
The Wooly Mammoth is one of the best wool blankets for camping because it brings all the important features together. The large size, softer texture, and thin yet extremely warm weave keep campers comfortable, all at a reasonable price.
Runner Up: Best for Outdoor Lifestyle – Arcturus Military Wool Blanket
Loom-woven and hemmed on all sides with contrast lock stitching, our blanket looks right at home in the woods or on your couch. Wool is a naturally fire-retardant material. Our blankets are NEVER treated with any additional flame-retardant chemicals, making it safe for you and your family.
- Upgrades on design/manufacturing improve softness
- Machine washable
- Edges won’t fray
- No fire-retardants applied
- Sheds during washing (hand washing suggested)
- Lingering chemical smell
Whether you are backpacking, having a picnic, or snuggling up around the campfire, the Arcturus is the best outdoor wool blanket for any need. The durable weave and lockstitch edges keep it looking great while the warmth and value pricing add to the appeal.
Best Premium Wool Blanket – Pendleton Yakima Camp Thick Warm Wool Blanket
Woven of pure virgin wool in our American mills for years of outstanding comfort.
- Soft touch, not itchy
- Very large
- All wool, no synthetic blends
- Attractive design and color
- Extremely durable
- Thick and warm
- Dry clean only
- Heavier than similar-size blankets
When you want a wool blanket camping essential, the Pendleton Yakima will provide warmth and protection from the elements for a lifetime. High-quality virgin wool and dense weave make this the softest, most durable wool blanket that can handle any camping adventure.
Best Budget Woolen Blanket – EverOne Olive Drab 80% Wool Blanket
High wool content not only helps trap body heat, but also makes the blanket much softer and more comfortable than other blankets made of synthetic material.
- Very affordable
- No odor after a few washings
- Machine washable
- Less stiff than other wool blankets
- Long length covers head to toe
- Must air dry, cannot put in dryer
- Sheds heavily during first washing
The EverOne rounds out the list of best wool camping blankets for the affordable price and lightweight yet extremely warm weave. The blanket has a soft drape and is perfect for use during any outdoor activity or for an emergency-preparedness kit.
Buyers Guide: How to Choose the Best Wool Blanket
Wool blankets for camping need to be lightweight but very durable and warm.
Wool is the ideal material for a camping blanket as it breathes, so you don’t overheat, and works to retain warmth even when wet.
Factors When Choosing a Wool Blanket
Type of Wool
Wool blanket fibers can come from the hairs of these animals:
- Sheep or lambs
Sheep is the most popular wool fiber because it is easier to source.
You don’t need to wash wool blankets very often because the fibers are naturally resistant to dirt and have antibacterial properties. For daily use, the recommendation is to launder the blanket every three months.
When you add in their moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating features, you can see why it’s an excellent material for a camping blanket.
Here are common wool blanket fiber types and what characteristics make them desirable.
- Merino Wool Merino wool comes from a specific species of sheep. Manufacturers favor Merino wool for its ample availability, the softness of the final textile, thin fibers that form less bulk, and a gentle sheen that adds a touch of luxury to finished products. Because the final weave is thinner and softer, it’s a common material for items that touch the skin, such as blankets or sweaters.
- Cashmere Wool Cashmere wool comes from Cashmere or Pashmina goat species. Manufacturers and shoppers covet this type of wool for the extra soft and fine fibers that feel very luxurious. The process to obtain the fibers and create textiles from cashmere is more difficult, and therefore blankets of this material tend to be very expensive.
- Angora Wool Angora wool comes from the downy coat of Angora rabbits. The rabbit only forms this coat at certain times of the year. The fiber from Angora is hollow, which makes the final material very light. It’s often blended in with other fibers such as sheep’s wool as it can’t hold together into a yarn strong enough to withstand the stress of a knitting machine. Angora is up to seven times warmer than sheep’s wool. The downside is Angora insulates almost too well, causing a blanket or sweater to feel too hot for comfort.
- Alpaca Wool Alpaca wool is silky, with a medium weight that creates a loose-weaved material. The fibers are both water and flame resistant, which makes it ideal for a camping blanket. It’s more pricey than other wools because the farmers can only collect the wool once a year during spring. Alpaca wool is often blended with sheep wool fibers to lower cost yet keep a higher-end look to the finished product.
The finish of wool will feel differently depending on how the manufacturer treats the material or if the fibers are recycled or virgin.
Manufacturers create boiled wool by washing the weaved material in hot water, which shrinks the fibers and makes a softer, denser material that sheds less.
Virgin wool means that the fibers come directly from the animal, and it’s the first time it’s been made into a textile. Virgin wool yarn is always stronger and softer than recycled wool yarn. The cost of virgin wool on the environment is the need for plenty of land and water for sheep to graze.
Recycled wool is more eco-friendly and is used to create more affordable textiles. Batches of old wool materials go into a machine that shreds the yarn down into thin fibers that can then be respun into yarn. This extra processing of the wool fibers results in a scratchier final fabric.
When camping, the size of the wool blanket is important. It’s better to have a size that will cover one person completely, so in the event of an emergency, each individual will have protection from the elements instead of trying to squeeze two people under one blanket.
A single-size blanket will also compact easier into a backpack, leaving space for other supplies.
Wool blankets come in a variety of weights, as the type of fiber chosen, along with thickness or treatments such as boiling, will change how heavy it feels.
For backpackers, a lightweight wool blanket is critical to avoid fatigue during hikes. Having to carry even an extra pound adds up over the course of a miles-long trek.
For general camping, a heavy-duty blanket is perfect for a groundcover for picnics, a canopy for shade, or wrapping up to gain protection from chilly winds. Since there is no need to carry it long distances, a heavier weight wool blanket is acceptable.
You can find wool blankets for camping from $30-$300.
The higher-priced blankets are typically woven from 100% virgin wool that is very dense and manufactured with attention to detail. Designs may include patterns or stripes that entail many different dyed wool colors that increase the time it takes to weave the fabric.
Lower-price wool blankets are easy on the budget but rarely contain more than 80% wool fibers. The final 20% of the fibers will be low-cost synthetic, which may or may not add to the blanket’s overall quality.
Even a lower-cost wool blanket will deliver much more warmth and weather protection than cotton or other materials, so don’t worry if you can’t afford a 100% wool option.
Wool versus Fleece versus Synthetic Fabric: Which is the Best Material for Camping Blanket?
Comparing wool to other fabrics used in camping blankets is essential so you can make a wise purchasing decision.
Let’s look at how wool stands up to other common camping blanket alternatives.
Wool vs. Synthetic Fabric
Wool is a naturally occurring material that no synthetic fabric can match for durability, warmth, antimicrobial action, and aversion to holding onto dust and dirt.
In general, wool is more lightweight when it gets wet as it naturally sheds off the water instead of absorbing all of it.
Synthetic fabric camping blankets are much more inexpensive to create and will feel softer than wool.
But, synthetic fiber blankets also wear down much quicker and will soak up water, and weigh a ton if you’re caught out in the rain and need a blanket for cover. The blanket will also get dirty fast, which will require regular washing, which is hard to do during a camping trip.
Wool vs. Fleece Fabric
Fleece camping blankets are very soft and extremely lightweight, but they lack essential features that can turn a camping trip into an uncomfortable or even unsafe adventure.
Fleece does not breathe well, which causes you to sweat and make you feel colder in chilly weather or miserable when it’s warm.
Fleece also has a loose weave, which allows wind to cut right through the material even though it feels thick.
Wool has the unique ability to both warm you and keep you from overheating. Wool keeps you more comfortable under any conditions because it offers breathability and wicks moisture.
Fleece is more commonly known as “polar fleece,” a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) synthetic material widely used for creating plastic water bottles and other products.
Confusion can arise from the general term fleece, as this word is a description for sheep fur. If you see the phrase “fleece” on a blanket tag and not ” wool fleece,” the blanket is 100% synthetic.
Polar fleece does not protect against dirt or germs, so expect to wash the blanket often. Fleece also melts near flames.
Which material is best for a camping blanket?
VERDICT: Wool is always the best choice for camping
Caring for Wool Blankets
Wool is unlike any other fabric when it comes to general care. Wool blankets remain cleaner for a very long time and retain their integrity for decades with little wear and tear.
To keep your wool blanket in top condition, follow these tips for care:
1. Wash carefully
No matter what the care instructions state, it’s always best to dry clean a wool camping blanket to keep the fibers from shedding or shrinking. Since a wool blanket requires so few washings over its lifetime, this expense isn’t as hard on the budget.
Many wool blankets tout they are machine washable but take caution when going this route.
Always use cold water and the gentlest cycle on your machine. A front-load washer is best.
Consider handwashing in a tub to reduce damage to fibers, as the agitation bar of a standard washing machine can cause a lot of shedding and mess.
2. Air dry
Even if the label says dryer safe, never place a wool blanket in the dryer, even if you use the no heat or fluff cycle.
Any rubbing will cause fibers to pull from the blanket, making it feel more scratchy, and any amount of heat will shrink fibers causing the blanket to distort and be smaller in size.
For some reason, high heat also brings out a more pungent smell that wool naturally has from the oils within the hairs.
Hang your wool blanket indoors or outside (away from direct sunlight) to air dry to increase softness and lifespan.
3. Spot clean and freshen between washings
Wool blankets are easy to keep clean by treating only the spots where food or dirt attach. Using a wool-safe detergent, gently dab at the area with a wet rag until it lifts.
Airing out your blanket is another great way to freshen it without damage.
Bring the blanket outside and give it a good shaking to remove dust or lint. Hang the blanket over a line or railing out of direct sunlight for several hours to air out any body odors from use.
4. Brush the surface
Use a soft brush, like one made to clean off garments, over the surface of the blanket to release any dust or dirt trapped in the fibers.
Brushing also pushes the wool fibers in one direction, which will make the blanket feel softer and reduces any chance of pilling.
5. Proper storage
When leaving a wool blanket folded over a couch or chair, try to keep it out of the direct sun so the fabric won’t fade or fibers degrade.
For long-term storage, always put the blanket in an air-tight bag or container to prevent damage from pests. Wool is attractive to moths and other critters as a source of food or bedding material.
Avoid plastic bags that contain PVC since the plastic breaks down over time and can crack. This type of plastic bag can also become sticky and mess up the blanket stored inside.
Ensure the inside of the bag is dry (low humidity) before you insert the blanket. Any moisture trapped inside the bag can cause mold or mildew to form.
Force out the air before you fully seal up the bag.
Place the bag in a dark, dry location like a closet, chest, or drawer. Do not place more blankets or other heavy objects on top of the bag. This action can cause permanent damage to the fibers as they more pressure and wear on the folds.
You can also safely store a wool blanket in a cedar chest. The natural oils in the wood act as a pleasant pest-repellent, so you don’t have to worry about damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is wool so expensive?
Wool is more expensive for several reasons. The first is that raising sheep or other animals, gathering the fur, and processing it into first a yarn then a textile is very labor-intensive.
Secondly, wool is not a flimsy fabric that wears out quickly. You’ll pay more for a material that’ll last for years and years with little care necessary to keep it looking good.
Finer or softer wool fibers require even more labor to create a finished product, and as such, come with a very high price tag.
Can you wash a wool blanket?
Yes, many wool blankets you can wash if they get dirty instead of bringing them to a dry cleaner.
Spot treatment of stains is better than a full wash. Handwashing is more gentle than machine washing.
Front-load washers are more gentle than top-load machines with agitators. Always use cold water, a gentle detergent, and never put it in the dryer.
Are wool blankets itchy?
Unfortunately, many wool blankets will feel itchy, even high-quality ones.
Wool fibers from sheep and goats are naturally stiffer, so when spun into yarn to create a blanket, many tips will stick out and poke at your skin.
Cashmere or angora wool is very soft and not itchy at all, but the fluffiness of the fibers can still cause an uncomfortable feeling on the skin. Merino wool is another fiber that is far less itchy than other yarns.
Tricks to improve the softness of any wool blanket include:
- Brushing all the fibers in one direction
- Soaking the blanket in cool white vinegar for 15 minutes (rinse with water)
- Rubbing hair conditioner into the blanket (rinse with water)
Wool can be irritating for people with sensitive skin or eczema, so consider other natural-fiber options if you plan to have direct-skin contact with your camping blanket.
A wool camping blanket doesn’t need to cost a fortune, but it should be your top choice of material over any other type of blanket for outdoor activities.
When you pick one of the best wool camping blankets from the list above, you’re guaranteeing a warm, water and germ-resistant, lightweight, compact, and long-lasting blanket that will make every camping trip safer and more comfortable!