[NOTE: This page is going to be a permanent work-in-progress ... it's a gigantic task, and the marketplace is continually changing, too! We would love to get input from people who know these brands, and we invite all other makers of outerwear to work with us and compete with us in head-to-head comparison and testing.]
Please compare and contrast WeatherWool with other brands? There are a LOT of other outdoors-oriented clothing brands, and although we would like to do comparisons against all of them, in many cases, truly direct comparisons may not be possible, for several reasons. Some brands:
- Are focused on specific applications, like skiing or biking, whereas WeatherWool is All-Purpose Outerwear
- Are very large and/or old with many different products
- Do not offer outerwear. But if they offer woolens, we'll show them here. We recommend only woolen base layers under WeatherWool, and this page gives us a good place to make specific reco's. And when we do begin to offer our own base layers, then we'll add the comparisons here. (WOW, I am so eager to make base layers, but we just don't have the resources to do it yet!! -- Ralph)
And so ... how do you compare different items of outerwear? I think a comparison has to be based on testing ... so basically a comparison means putting the subject garments thru the same series of tests, and then evaluating the test results. Please click here to see my ideas/outline for testing.
One important point -- sorry if it is obvious -- but a garment can't be better than the material from which it is made. And most garment manufacturers do not manufacture their own materials, whether synthetic or natural. And unless you make the stuff from which your garments are made, you are competing on style, superficial design features, marketing and price. The central idea to keep in mind about WeatherWool is that we make our own Fabric, starting with raw wool sourced from ranchers we personally select, because that is the only way to meet our performance specs ... there is just no way we would ever use fabrics that are, literally, 'run of the mill'.
Some of the comparison work will be done by me personally (yes ... WeatherWool is my family's company so keep that in mind!) but we really hope other people will provide information -- partly just because we need the help but also to increase the credibility of the comparisons.
Please note that most of the following names are trademarks and registered trademarks of the respective companies. Click the brand name to go to their website:
- Arctic Shield: Makers of synthetic clothing the website describes as windproof, waterproof and breathable, with the ability to reflect 97% of the body's radiated heat back toward the wearer
- Asbell Wool: G. Fred Asbell is one of the most-honored names in bowhunting, and was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 2010. Mr Asbell has written extensively on hunting for many years, and his book Instinctive Shooting II is in my library. I have not handled his clothing personally, as far as I can remember, but back in about 2010 I was told their garments are made from Woolrich standard bulk fabric offerings. Our Fabric costs us more than the retail price of Asbell wool garments -- quite literally! One thing I really like about Asbell's garments, besides the price, is the use of muted colors in traditional plaids and solids ... so Asbell wool is acceptable just about anywhere.
- Best Made: Best Made offers many products, all made to their own specs. I have seen them offer woolens, but did not find woolens on their website on 24 June 2018.
- Boreal Mountain Anoraks: This is a good comparison to make because these folks are known for woolen Anoraks ... so we can compare our Anorak directly to theirs!
- Browning: A giant and iconic American company that makes many things. I mostly hunt deer with a Browning A-Stalker Slug Gun and it is a super weapon. But this comparison is about clothing and I look forward to taking them on in that area. The Jan/Feb 2018 issue of Bowhunter Magazine says Browning's Hell's Canyon Speed Rain Slayer FM Jacket is "Water/windproof and extremely breathable". Can I get a refund if it isn't?
- Buffalo Systems: A customer told us to check out the Buffalo Special 6 Shirt. It's completely different than us ... synthetic (Classic Pertex Shell, AquaTherm pile lining) and lightweight ... under a kilogram (around 2 pounds) ... sells for about $225 in USA. I never heard of this company until the customer mentioned them, but they are from UK with a lot of retailers in a bunch of countries.
- Canada Goose: Out of Toronto, Canada Goose is an older company, starting in the 1950s and making their best-known synthetic-outer, down-filled jackets since the 1970s. Goose is all over New York City lately, and that's good for WeatherWool, I think! Hopefully we can find people who have some Canada Goose, and do some testing -- their men's tops run $500 - $900.
- Day One Camouflage: This is a dedicated hunting brand founded in about 1990. I am almost certain I have met the owner, Gary Christoffersen, two or three times at outdoor shows, quite a few years ago. I confess I could not remember his name (sorry, Gary!), but I do remember a very pleasant and hardworking guy. Day One originally made fleece items, then branched out to cotton, wool and synthetic Cowboy Suede. I've never worn any Day One, and I do not remember ever handling their wool. Day One woolens are priced at about 1/3 to 1/2 of ours, and so I know they have a different approach ... but ... that's why we started WeatherWool.
- Denim (in general): Well, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies offering denim, so I'm mentioning it here. Denim is a tough weave of cotton, so it is comfortable, and I wear it a lot myself ... but the saying "cotton kills" is good advice. Except for specialty products like Ventile, cotton is trouble unless the weather stays good.
- DSG Outerwear: Started in 2010 for snowmobiling and skiing, DSG focuses on women's wear. In 2017 then came out with a hunting line. Bright colors for the snow sports and camo for hunting, they are, I think, all synthetic. The hunting pieces go from $50 up to $180
- Empire Wool and Canvas is very well known for their wool, and they license their wool to Lester River (see below) for their iconic Boreal Shirt (Anorak). The first thing I'd like to say here, really, is that we owe a debt to these companies for helping to preserve and revive interest in and respect for woolen outerwear. Lots of the people who wear WeatherWool have also owned Empire. From Empire's website: "We buy our 100% wool blankets and 85/15 wool blend fabric direct from the mill." ... OK, different approach from us and we are ready for head-to-head comp anytime!
- Filson is over 100 years old and has made many different types of garments and even many different types of products over the years. Filson offers luggage now, for example. However, Filson is most known for their outerwear, and their Double Mackinaw is probably their flagship product. Please click here for a comparison of our All-Around Jacket to the Filson Double Mackinaw.
- First Lite: Woolen clothing for hunters is what they are all about. I think they use Chinese manufacture, but I might be wrong about that. They offer not only outerwear, but base layers as well. First Lite sponsors a TV Show known as The Meat Eater, which is about hunting for food and Nature appreciation. It's a fantastic show and I really appreciate they are helping to keep this show and its host, Steve Rinella, on the air. We would love to be compared and tested against First Lite.
- Fjallraven: Synthetic outdoors clothing for men and women. Fjallraven is pointed toward hikers and trekkers and they are out of Sweden. I have heard people rave about their pants, but I have never worn them myself. They have a store in the SoHo section (lower Manhattan) of NYC, which is sort of a fantasy of mine, so I really admire them for that! And ... of course we'd love to do a head-to-head with these guys!
- Galvin Green "... is a pure golf brand specialising in the design and supply of high-performance clothing to golfers ... " per their website. They seem to be all about synthetics, as the site refers to Gore-Tex and rubber. Really different from us but the clothes look great -- for that type of clothing! -- on the website.
- Gamehide manufactures its own fabrics for use in its line of strictly-hunting clothing. A quick look at their website shows 9 different fabrics, all of them apparently synthetic, but very little information about what the fabrics are actually made of. For example: "Hush Hide® is perhaps the best-known hunting-specific fabric on the market today. It’s soft, silent, lightweight and, unlike the copycat fabrics, it’s 100% cotton-FREE, which means it won’t shrink or fade! Hush Hide® Packable is 40% lighter and designed to be ultra-compactible for use in packable garments." Gamehide is very different from us.
- Glowing Sky: Glowing Sky is making merino woolens in New Zealand. I've never seen any of their items in person. Glowing Sky is a family company and (not sure!) it looks like they are making base layers and knits for casual outerwear.
- Gore-Tex ... probably the grand-daddy of synthetic outerwear for folks dealing with weather. We have started the WeatherWool/Gore-Tex page, but it's a long way from complete. Holy cow, we love to be compared to Gore-Tex. I do think, tho, that Gore-Tex has done a lot to get people thinking about clothes specifically for handling weather, and that is a big deal in my book! I don't think Gore-Tex actually sells clothing ... they sell fabric to clothing makers, many of which are linked from the Gore-Tex website.
- Haglöfs is a European company providing synthetic (Gore-Tex) clothing for hikers, snow-boarders and skiers and climbers.
- HECS makes hunting clothing that is based on their "Carbon fiber conductive grid in fabric [that] BLOCKS YOUR ELECTRICAL ENERGY FIELD SO GAME WON’T SENSE YOU. I'm not familiar with them, but they must be doing OK because they sponsor a TV Show. I can't remember ever seeing their gear or even talking to someone who has worn it. What game animals can sense if an endlessly fascinating subject!
- King of the Mountain: We were the largest "stocking distributors" of King of the Mountain when we founded WeatherWool in 2009. At the time, I considered King of the Mountain to be the best woolen outerwear. But I had a bunch of ideas to improve the products, and they had no interest. WeatherWool has implemented all of those ideas, and more.
- Kryptek makes hunting apparel, plus some other products. They offer merino base layers (yay!) but for outerwear " ... breathable, 100% waterproof,windproof, Primaloft® insulated system ...". OK, let's do that field test! But also ... Kryptek's founders are American Military Combat Vets ... HATS OFF to these guys. Without the American Military, America would not exist.
- Kuhl was founded by four serious outdoorsmen oriented toward skiing and climbing. They are producing synthetic clothing in China. I've not seen or spoken to anyone about Kuhl
- Kuiu is all about hunting, producing a full range of lightweight hunting clothing and gear. They make merino base layers and synthetic outerwear. Kuiu has become extremely popular with hunters over the last several years. They use New Zealand Merino for some of their base layers and a mix of Canadian and Chinese and Japanese labor and materials for other pieces. One of the founders of Kuiu also founded Sitka. I've seen their outerwear at shows, but have not worn it myself. I've talked to people who have plenty of experience with Kuiu, and we really look forward to direct comparison with them ... with Kuiu's own merino base layers under our outerwear and theirs.
- Lester River Bushcraft makes a variety of items but they are mostly known for their Boreal Shirt (Anorak), which is hugely popular. "The 100% wool Boreal shirt is licensed exclusively to Lester River Bushcraft from Empire Wool & Canvas Company." We will be more than happy to be compared to Lester River or Empire (see above), and we also happily thank them for helping to remind a ton of people that WOOL RULES.
- LL Bean is an old and gigantic company that makes a huge number of products. We have in our house three pairs of Bean's original product, the Maine Guide Boots. Taking a quick look at the men's jackets on their website, the first 48 of over 120 men's jackets didn't show a real wool jacket, but there must be some wool in their offerings. We'd happily go head-to-head against anything Bean offers, of course. Mainly, we really appreciate that Bean has been almost alone in marketing their products to both hunting and non-hunting customers, and that is evidently a tough line to walk. We are trying hard to emulate Bean in that regard -- WeatherWool is for everyone who faces weather, regardless of how they feel about hunting. Here's hoping Bean can continue to cater to hunters, non-hunters and anti-hunters ... and help those different groups find common ground (pun not originally intended buy appropriate!) because all Nature lovers need to unite in the efforts to protect our lands and waters.
- Marmot is another really well-known companies that is all about synthetics or blends for the outdoor lifestyle. They are pretty big now with a huge range of offerings. They are not at all would I would think of as a competitor to WeatherWool, but ... we'll go head-to-head with anything they make.
- Mountain Equipment
- Mossy Oak is a relatively young and hugely successful company that started as a camouflage pattern for hunting. They've expanded in all sorts of directions, and it seems like they have a customer-first, family-and-friends approach that really earns the loyalty of the people they work with. As for clothing, they are much more about their camo pattern than anything else (maybe they would disagree with me, but that's what I see), and they license their patterns to many manufacturers. As always, we welcome any comparison or challenge! Their camo patterns are wildly popular, and I can easily imagine WeatherWool Fabric in a Mossy Oak pattern ... the Jacquard looms could do it ... WeatherWool is about our Fabric, and Mossy Oak is about their patterns ... so it makes sense ...
- My Core Control: Synthetic garments that use batteries to create warmth. I have no experience with this line, nor have I spoken to anyone who has. I feel like synthetics with batteries is a wildly different approach than WeatherWool ... How long can the batteries last? Yeah, bring on the comparison ...
- Nomad Outdoor Clothing ... their website says "Gear built by hunters for hunters", and all the tops shown there are offered at well under $100. Synthetics, of course.
- Norrøna is another of the companies that offers merino base layers and Gore-Tex outerwear. They mainly feature bright colors but some subdued colors are shown on their website. Norrøna has a great website, with a Magazine Feature that is really cool ... the magazine is subdivided into various activities ... skiing/snowboarding, hiking, surfing, hunting, mountain biking and mountaineering. I like seeing them show hunting side by side with other outdoor pursuits, and that they don't seem to feel forced to pick "one side of the fence or the other", as American companies almost all do. Norrøna is a Norwegian company, started in 1928. Given that they offer merino base layers, we could do a test with their own base under WeatherWool and compare head-to-head with any of their outerwear. Debby and I examined some Norrøna in 2010, when we visited Norway, but I haven't seen it here in the USA. A Norwegian buddy of mine wears Norrøna Pants and wool tops when he hunts moose ... he says the pants enable him to cross streams without getting wet.
- North Face is one of the big names in outdoor wear. From the website: "The North Face® fundamental mission remains unchanged since 1966: Provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration." ... Well, got to love that! North Face is all about synthetics ... that's pretty much the way it goes, these days! We are ready when they are.
- Oakley ... I don't know Oakley to claim to be a serious-performing outdoor brand. A quick look at their website shows inexpensive synthetics. But they do have ambassadors representing them in many sports in many places. Mostly they are known for sunglasses, I think.
- Onca makes synthetic camo clothing for hunters. Their website does not say much about their technology or what their clothes are actually made of. They do say their clothing is windproof, waterproof, breathable.
- Outdoor Research definitely chose a cool name! The company was started by a really serious outdoor guy who was killed in an avalanche in around 2008. They seem to be all about synthetics ... polyester, nylon ... and features the Gore-Tex hang-tag on the clothing pages.
- Patagonia is surely one of the best-known outdoor brands at this point. They offer gear by activity: Climbing, Ski/Snowboarding, Surfing, Fly Fishing, Trail Running, Mountain Biking. And they are very serious about caring for and appreciating Nature, even though they are all about synthetics. They offer base layers of merino blended with what they call capilene (their own flavor of polyester) but it seems their outerwear is all synthetic. They have a huge range of products, tho, and maybe they have, or will bring out some wool. There is some serious wool in the Patagonia region of Argentina, and that is where they source the wool for their blended base layers. Hats off to Patagonia for a bunch of things they do! And WOW, we really look forward to some head-to-head testing against these guys.
- Páramo Directional Clothing uses synthetic fabric made by Nikwax to move water where it should be. I've never heard from anyone wearing these garments, but here is a little info from their website: "Why Páramo® has chosen Nikwax Directional Fabric Technology What does directionality® mean? Directionality in fabric means 'the ability of the fabric or the fabric system to move liquid water to where you want it'." I only spent a few minutes on the website, so maybe I missed it, but I didn't find any information on what this fabric is made of.
- Pendleton is one of the two biggest names in American Wool. The company is old, and it is large ... they have made soooo many things. And not everything they offer is wool, or even clothing. On 2 July 2018, I took a look at their website, for men's coats. The Pendleton Signature Manhattan Coat seems to be their only offering in this category, which surprised me. Also, there wasn't much at all in the way of descriptive information, but judging by the picture, the coat has a synthetic liner. It's not reasonable to judge Pendleton by this quick look, but it's not meaningless, either. We will be glad to compete with anything they make. But maybe more importantly, we owe a debt to Pendleton and a very few other companies for keeping wool alive in America!
- Pertex makes synthetic fabrics used by a LOT of companies. Pertex does not make clothing themselves. Here is a quote from their website: "We are now established as the leader in lightweight technical fabrics and today are partnered with some of the most prestigious and successful brands in the outdoor industry."
- Pnuma is yet another maker of synthetic camo clothing, strongly oriented toward hunting. Their website has some really sharp-looking pages talking about how their technical fabrics transport moisture, breathe, are waterproof, etc., but they surprised me by offering merino base layers along with their plastics ... interesting. So maybe we could compare WeatherWool to Pnuma outerwear over their own merino base?
- Prois offers merino base layers and synthetic outerwear specifically for women hunters.
- Ravenwear: This company made synthetics designed for cold weather. They are no longer in operation, near as I can tell. Their website, Ravenwear.CA, is gone.
- Realtree is a very well-known company that is licenses their camo patterns. You'll see Realtree on a wide variety of outdoor products, and lots of companies license Realtree patterns for their clothing.
- Sasta is a Finnish company that makes synthetic clothing for hunters, anglers and more general outdoor use. I have never seen their clothing in person. The website shows they rely on Gore-Tex quite a bit.
- ScentLok makes a complete line of clothing from base layers and socks to many types of outerwear, mostly for hunters but they offer streetwear as well. ScentLok is based on their scent control clothing, which they have been making since the early 1990s. ScentLok may have been the first to offer scent control clothing for hunters.
- Sitka has been all about synthetics since it began, but it has more recently added merino wool base layers. Sitka is owned by Gore-Tex, so it is pretty interesting that they'd offer any merino at all. Here is a line from their website: "We use advanced design, technology and fabrics to create gear systems that enhance the experience of the hunter." Sitka has also been running ads with what I think of as the Sitka Challenge ... we gladly accept the challenge from Sitka, and from anyone else, too!
- Sleeping Indian is an American maker of woolens. And the owner of the company, Bennie Deal, is a great guy and a friend of ours.
- TrueTimber is a company that licenses its camo patterns and manufactures fabrics and various products, including garments, for other companies.
- Under Armour exploded on the American clothing scene just after the turn of the century, and has had incredible growth since then. They make many kinds of clothing to serve a wide variety of activities ... even making something designed to improve the way athlete's sleep. I had thought they made some wool base layers, but don't see them on their website. So maybe everything they make is synthetic? Anyway ... we will happily compare!
- Voormi is an American company using American wool, blended with synthetics, to create what they describe as a new way of imagining clothing. The idea is to put synthetic fibers in some places and natural fibers in others. I like a lot their mood and ethos and presentation. I haven't had my hands on their garments. I think they are all knits. More to come here!
- Woolrich is probably THE grand old name in American woolens. They are almost 200 years old, and they've made a zillion things. But much of what they make is not American anymore, and, I think, the company is no longer owned by the rich family, but by an Italian company. The Woolrich home page as of today, 2 July 2018, shows three young people in an urban area, and it looks like they are all wearing synthetic jackets. We'll gladly compare ourselves to any of the old woolen Woolrich products as well as any of the new Woolrich products, whatever they may be.
- and ...?
There is a great deal to include here, so it will take a long time to fill this out. And this is an area where we can use input from lots of people … people who have knowledge of these other brands, and hopefully, WeatherWool too. Two of our Advisors have a lot more experience with other brands than I do ... Jim from Connecticut (love that closet picture) and Mike Dean ... and either of them will be happy to give you some detailed comparisons. But also, we would like to hear about comparisons from other people because this seems like a good way to get ideas, and we do everything we can to be the best All-Purpose Outerwear there is. And toward that end, we have decided to develop a way to test and compare outerwear.
IMPORTANTLY ... we don't want to get into a lawsuit shooting-match with some corporate lawyer. If you represent some other company, by all means just give us your input. We strive to be absolutely accurate at all times. And again ... many of the the names shown above are trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies.
Also ... The above list of outerwear makers might serve as suggestions for people looking for other possibilities. So if you are doing some research, we'd appreciate to hear about your findings. We love to be compared to anything else, and we love hearing how other people do things, and how differences are perceived. Thanks for your help!
5 August 2018