Frequently Asked Questions
We add to this section regularly. Feel free to ask anything. The questions are in no particular order.
What should I wear?
Wool. If there was something better than wool for All-Purpose Clothing, we wouldn't be doing this. Plenty more on this subject later.
What do you mean “Satisfaction Guaranteed”?
We're doing the best we can. If you are not happy, you are urged to accept a 100% refund. If your WeatherWool fits you comfortably, take it out and give it a rigorous field test, for a week or a month or more. This isn't much of a risk! Anyway ... we are guided by the philosophy of William Gladstone, which is kind of funny and is basically a NO AGGRAVATION approach to life.
What are you trying to do?
We're trying to make the best outerwear on the market ... the best we can figure out how to make, pure wool and pure-American. We want our customers to recommend WeatherWool to their family and friends, to view WeatherWool as a long-term, dividend-paying investment. To be the clothing parents are happy to pass along to their children. We want to make your single favorite Jacket that works great and looks great in the field or at a ball game or corporate retreat or even Church. We want WeatherWool to add to your outdoor experiences. And if your outdoor activities involve true extremes and serious conditions, we want WeatherWool to be the gear that performs when it is really needed.
What's the single word that best describes WeatherWool?
Versatile. We want people to wear WeatherWool for most everything they do. After all, if you don't wear it, then it cannot do its job. And so we have created clothing that works in a wide variety of Natural and human settings ... from the most difficult situations to the most leisurely.
Why do you use the trademark “Hardcore Luxury”?
Because we feel these two words convey pretty well the versatility of our garments. WeatherWool is chosen for its Hardcore Performance by people facing the most difficult situations ... and is chosen for its luxury by people who simply want to look and feel good when going about normal civilian life. We set out to create a hardcore product ... we have made our garments so that they outperform all others for general outdoor use. However, our functional specs required development of a pure wool Fabric that felt very soft and comfortable on the skin. If our Fabric was not comfortable, then we would have had to add liners to keep scratchy wool off the skin ... as usual with woolens ... and liners can get you in trouble in adverse conditions. So, we made a Fabric that enabled us to avoid the use of liners. The Fabric we needed did not exist, so we developed a high-performance, pure-wool Fabric that feels great on the skin. We did not intend to create a luxury product, but our functional specs created luxury, although we actually did not see it that way ourselves until people remarked to us that WeatherWool is a luxury product. Sounds strange, we know. But that's the way it turned out. Hardcore outdoors folk have given us a lot of great feedback. Other types of folks have told us our Fabric feels like cashmere but wears like iron. We love that the garments chosen for performance and protection in some of the most difficult circumstances are also chosen for style and comfort on city streets.
Don't modern synthetics outperform wool?
Absolutely not. If we thought there was anything better than wool, we wouldn't be doing this. Even companies based on synthetic outerwear are now selling wool base layers and singing their praises. The WHY WOOL page has a ton of info and a great diagram, but here I will just relate a quick story. Some years back I was speaking to a gent who had responsibility for Search and Rescue for Northern British Columbia. He told me he sees people heading out wearing all kinds of stuff. He said something like “If you come up here with anything but wool, I know you don't know what you're doing.”
Why so expensive?
For any product or service, there is a range of prices, a lot of different ways to do things. For some reason, nobody was making the best woolens they could make. So we are filling that void ... We are making the best pure-American, pure-woolen outerwear we can figure out how to make. All of our components, processing, and craftsmanship are the best we can find, and again, American-only. Every decision we have ever made was intended to improve our products. The costs really add up. Here are some factors:
- Our raw wool is the best for our purposes and sourced directly from the ranchers. Our raw fleece cost $3.23 per pound, compared to the $0.60 - $0.75 per pound cost of typical fleece
- Every step in our production, all of our components, starting with the sheep themselves, then cleaning, spinning, dying, weaving, finishing, sewing, tailoring and delivery -- is the highest quality and purely USA
- We use absolutely no cotton or fillers. Only pure prime American wool
- All of our Fabrics are woven on a Jacquard loom. Normally, only complex patterns are woven on a Jacquard loom because it is the only loom that can create complex patterns. However, the Jacquard also creates a three-dimensional structure in the Fabric that significantly enhances performance. We may be the only people who weave Solid Colors on a Jacquard loom.
- A couple of years ago we stopped using regular buttons and now use only what are known as Slot Buttons (or sometimes Rail Buttons). Slot buttons cost about 25 times more than the standard US Military buttons we had been using, and they are significantly more expensive to sew, as well. All told, they are probably about 75 times the cost of typical buttons. BUT, Slot Buttons are much better at standing up to long, tough use. And nobody is ever going to think “Gee, I wish my Jacket was made with standard buttons instead of these Melamine Slot Buttons.” Read about Slot Buttons and other examples on our Details page.
- No-Risk Field Testing: Take WeatherWool out in the field and test it hard under the worst conditions ... for a while. Get a refund if you want. So far, nobody who liked the fit wanted the refund.
- Finished inside stitching. Because we don't use liners on the inside of our garments, our inside stitching is fully visible and therefore needs to be finished instead of rough, which significantly increases labor costs. A lot of tailors can't even produce finished inside stitching because they have never made garments that don't have liners to hide the inner stitching
- Free returns or exchanges or refunds. Even after heavy-duty field testing. We can't have anyone unhappy
- No additional cost for credit card processing
- Free Priority Mail shipping in the USA (even Alaska, Hawaii) and Canada
- No government subsidies
The costs for processing our raw fleece into Fabric are exceptional. We require special treatment at every step of the way. Our millers put this in writing: “... you are a special customer ... you have your own Mill within the Mill. We do not do this for any other customers.” All of our Fabrics, even our solid colors, are woven on a Jacquard loom, which is capable not only of producing complex patterns, but also creates in our Fabrics a three-dimensional structure that enables performance significantly superior to the typical flat loom.
American Trench, an American maker of luxury garments, has purchased from us some Fabric for development of a coat that we will co-brand with them. They told us they view our Fabric as an extremely durable substitute for cashmere. We really like the sound of that!
Sometimes we have to go to crazy lengths to remain pure-American, but we are unwilling to make any exceptions. It turns out there are no American makers of the type of pure (soft!) merino woolen cuffs and ribs we need for our Hoodies and some other items. So, we had to start from scratch, by sourcing appropriate fiber, then having it spun and dyed to our specs, and then knitted into cuffs (and ribs). This process was very time-consuming and insanely (embarrassingly) expensive.
We are a very small company, making small quantities of garments. We worked three years to develop our first true production Fabric. Each garment we offer has been designed and fitted and tested repeatedly before we put our label on it. It is routine for us to spend over a year developing a garment.
What do you mean by pure-American?
Our raw wool comes from ‘American Sheep eating American Grass’, as they say in the US Army. The wool is cleaned, spun and woven in the USA. Dyeing takes place in the USA. Our Fabrics are cut and sewn into garments here in the USA. All of our thread, zippers, buttons, snaps, cuffs, clips, cords, accents and facings are made in the USA. There isn't anything that isn't American. We are fully compliant with the Berry Amendment. All of our owners are Citizens, American-born. And our phone number ends in 1776. We have on file Certificates of Origination that attest to our American sourcing.
Why make a pure-American product?
Because we REALLY WANT to make a pure-American product. Because we have no interest in making a second-tier product, and we are competing on quality and service, not price, and therefore we must be able to stay close to all phases of production. Because some people think Americans can't make clothing anymore. Because we are huge flag-wavers. Because we love Rosie the Riveter. Because we want to see WeatherWool worn by the United States Military, and they will buy only American products. Because we are tired of seeing imported products fill our stores. ... For the record, we have friends in and from many countries, and have had plenty of great trips abroad. But my favorite part of any international trip is coming home, and I love to see the American Flag on my front porch, on the stuff that I buy and on WeatherWool.
What if I don't like WeatherWool once I've given it a good test?
If it fits you in your living room, go out and give it a tough field test ... and no need to hurry. Test all kinds of weather, all kinds of activities, all kinds of settings. If you are not happy, send it back for a full refund. We're not worried.
Who is WeatherWool designed for?
Anyone who spends time in cool or cold weather.
Where can I see and touch WeatherWool? Can I talk to someone?
You can contact us 24/7, and visit us by appointment. We also have a growing network of Advisors who can answer questions, make recommendations, show WeatherWool in person and take your order.
What activities is WeatherWool designed for?
Just about anything that might happen in the weather. Hiking, camping, hunting, birding, skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, sledding, trekking, photography, engineering, construction, professional gatherings, walking the pooch, waiting for the train, watching a ball game ... or just getting from one place to another. A couple of our customers are hunters who wear WeatherWool in the field and to church. WeatherWool is designed for cool and cold weather, but can be worn comfortably in room temperature. I've worn WeatherWool in temperatures over 80F/27C.
Tell me about your wool.
Our FullWeight Fabric is 19.4 ounces per square yard (661 grams per square meter -- GSM) and our MidWeight Fabric is 14 ounces per square yard (473 GSM). (Note that wool weights are usually quoted by the linear yard, but there is no standard width, so comparisons can be difficult.) All of our Fabric is woven on a Jacquard loom, which enables a 3-dimensional Fabric that enhances performance. The Jacquard is the only type of loom that can create complex patterns such as our LYNX Pattern. We use American Rambouillet Merino wool. Average fiber thickness is 21-micron, which is very fine for outerwear. Staple length is pushing four inches (about as long as the machines can handle). Thin enough to be very comfortable but selected to be strong, with plenty of crimp (kinks) for insulation. We have made the best-performing Fabric we’ve been able to figure out how to make. There is a LOT more information on our Fabrics page.
Describe the entire WeatherWool manufacturing process.
We begin with extremely careful selection of our raw wool. America's top ranchers have very detailed, independent lab tests performed on their fleece. We normally split the costs of the testing with the ranchers. Together with Bob Padula, our wool consultant, we very carefully analyze the results of these tests and select the lots that can create the very comfortable and luxurious but also very tough and weather-resistant fabric that is the heart of WeatherWool. Basically, we select fantastic American raw wool. A nice bonus of our careful selection process is that we get to know the ranchers that raise this wonderful wool. Once we identify the wool we want, we need to win that wool at auction ... we have to be the highest bidders. From the auction house, the wool goes to Texas for custom scouring (cleaning). Our clean wool is shipped to Pennsylvania, where it is spun into yarn, woven into fabric and then finished, yielding true WeatherWool Fabric. Our various components (thread, zippers, buttons, fasteners, cords, snaps, etc.) come from quite a few different states. All of the components and Fabric are collated into production packages at our home in New Jersey, and production packages are then sent to tailors or hat makers in New Jersey or New York City. Finished products are shipped from us to our customers throughout the USA and many other countries. We stay in touch with our customers and testers and Advisors and regularly receive feedback. We take everyone's input very seriously, and are very grateful for all comments. We carefully collect all feedback and evaluate every suggestion and criticism. We are always willing to consider new ideas and potential enhancements. We periodically re-work the designs for our various products, making one or more prototypes of the new or updated garments. Our prototypes are tested hard and re-evaluated. Then we finalize our designs, make a production run, deliver the garments to our customers and ... the cycle of field use generates more feedback and ideas and ... We will always seek to improve everything.
What other brands do you compare yourself to?
We feel there is no obvious comparison because we are not aware of anyone else doing what we are doing. People often mention other makers of woolen outerwear, and we surely invite comparison to any of them! But we also invite comparison to makers of synthetic outerwear, whether for skiing, casual wear, hunting or birding or almost any outdoor activity. We don't compete on price ... only on quality, performance, versatility and service. And American origin. We don't know of anyone else making garments that deliver both Hardcore performance and Luxury, and therefore Hardcore Luxury is our registered trademark.
Please compare and contrast with other brands? There are a LOT of other outdoors-oriented brands, and some of them are large and/or old with many different products, so direct comparisons might not be possible. But eventually we will address each of these: Arc’teryx, Boreal Mountain, Browning, Canada Goose, DSG, Empire Wool and Canvas, Filson, Fjallraven, Gamehide, King of the Mountain, Kuiu, Lester River, LL Bean, Noronna, Onca, Patagonia, Paramo Directional Clothing, Pendelton, Pnuma, Prois, North Face, Sasta, Sitka (Sitka Challenge), Sleeping Indian, True Timber, Under Armour, Voormi, Woolrich ...? (Please note that most of these names are registered trademarks of the respective companies.)
This is a new section that I didn’t think of until the end of December, 2017. 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, or WeatherWool, or, preferably, both. 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 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.
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.
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. Thanks for your help!
Can you make custom sizes?
We can if necessary. Please talk to us if you are difficult to fit.
Please click here for a picture of our Fabric colors.
What makes WeatherWool better than other brands?
The short answer is that we are making the best we can figure out how to make, and we have never made any decision except to maximize the quality of our garments. We don't know of anyone else who has that philosophy. We buy the best raw wool we can find, and it gets primo treatment until it is turned into Fabric. We use only the best components (zippers, thread, etc.) and expert tailors. Our Fabrics are pure wool ... almost all other woolens have significant amounts of cotton. But cotton sucks up water. So we eliminated it. We don't use cotton thread, either. Our Fabrics are very tough but also very soft ... qualities that are difficult and expensive to combine. But toughness is important in outerwear, particularly outerwear built for performance. Softness is also important, tho, because we can avoid use of liner fabrics, which do not perform the way wool does. The other garments we know of have liners at the back of the neck and around the wrists and elsewhere. These liners turn into wet rags which could get someone killed. There is more information about our Fabrics and raw wool and processing on the Fabric page. We also offer no-risk field testing. Take WeatherWool out there and give it your best shot. Get a refund if you want one.
Where have WeatherWool products fallen short, and what are you doing about the problems?
We have had very few failures ... The biggest problem we've had is a few pairs of Pants split in the crotch, and corners of cargo pockets have come loose where they are sewn to the Pants. The front button has come loose on a couple pairs of Pants. The buttons we fix, or pay to have them fixed locally. Seams and pockets we have sent out new Pants. (Some Pants split because guys wore them without a belt, and the Pants are not designed to be worn low. Please wear a belt.) One woman returned for refund a Jacket because she didn't like the Hood while hunting and because she wanted a windproof jacket. We issued her a full refund. She probably should not have worn this Jacket in the field because she didn't like the fit. Also, our Fabric is not windproof by design ... we require our Fabric to breathe, and, IMHO, windproof and breathable does not exist. Our Mouton Products are windproof because the Mouton still has the leather from the lamb pelt.
How do I care for WeatherWool?
Please click to go to the separate Care page.
What kind of warranty do you offer?
Eventually everything wears out. But until then, we’ll take care of any problems that might come up that are not due to mistreatment of the garment. And we would love to hear from anyone who actually does wear our stuff to exhaustion. We’ll give you a nice discount on something new.
Where is your operation?
We run WeatherWool out of our old house in South Orange, Jersey, a few miles West of New York City. (Please come for a visit if you are nearby, but call first to make sure someone is there to greet you.) There are people from many States involved with WeatherWool in one way or another ... Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and probably other States. But absolutely no other countries (But we do have WeatherWool Advisors in other countries, to assist international customers.)
Do you have any videos about WeatherWool?
We are establishing a Youtube Channel ... ‘WeatherWool’ ... And there are WeatherWool videos that have been produced by others, too. You can see a descriptive list (with links) of the videos on this page.
Do you make any camo patterns?
Our Lynx Pattern is what we think of as camo-camo. Lynx disappears in many natural environments, but is not perceived as camo by the general public. One of our customers described wearing Lynx to a big-city dinner cruise with corporate colleagues. He reported receiving several compliments on the Jacket and questions about who was the designer, but nobody realized he was wearing camo. Our development and testing of Lynx Pattern included trips to shopping malls, etc., to test people's reactions. We are comfortable stating that people who do not have a ‘camo frame of mind’ will not see Lynx Pattern as camo. Incidentally, our solid colors Drab and Duff are also by design very difficult to see in natural settings. Black, to me anyway, is still a question mark. Black is conspicuous to human eyes but here in Jersey our Black Bears are thriving and we do also have jet-black coyotes. One last point ... the preceding conversation about Lynx Pattern in public refers to Jackets, Hoodies, Hats, Totes. I'm not sure I've worn Lynx Pattern Pants around town. Probably I should give that a try. But I always take to the field in Drab Pants and Lynx top because I prefer to have my legs looking different than my torso in the belief that breaking up the silhouette is more important than any given camo pattern. Also, one of the features of wool fiber is that the microscopic texture deadens reflectivity.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes. We are proud to have customers in quite a few countries. Shipping to Canada and USA is free. We split the cost of shipping to other countries ... customer pays half, we pay half.
What about sales taxes or import duties or tariffs?
There is no sales tax on clothing in New Jersey. So there are never any governmental taxes or fees added on by us. Canada does not levy any import fees or duties on WeatherWool, or any American woolen products. Some countries do levy import fees or tariffs but we have no role in this regard.
What in tarnation are you doing in Jersey?
The short answer is I was born and raised in Jersey, and for Debby, Brooklyn and Long Island. Debby and I have been in the same big old house in South Orange since 1984, so we really have roots here. Our son Alex lives nearby with his family, and he has been fulltime with WeatherWool (and Alex Outdoors) since day one. Our daughter Denali (Laura) lives with us, and has a growing role with the company. Alex's wife Cecy lends her experience in marketing and sales and her native Spanish. Plus Debby's Mom and our niece Sandra also live with us, and also provide valuable ideas and advice. The houses in our neighborhood were built when large families were the norm, so it’s a great base for our family and our business too. But a lot of people are surprised to learn what a great outdoor State Jersey is. We don't have BIG spaces but we have real variety and some super quality and Jersey is for sure one of America's best States for venison. Plus being so close to New York City means WeatherWool has NYC's Garment District within 30 minutes. BUT ... if you know of a farm that touches on salt water, please give me a call!
Can you do anything to keep animals from catching my scent?
Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, so it does help in that regard. There are also reasons to doubt the effectiveness of the various scent-suppression approaches. Field and Stream magazine has, over a few years, run several articles describing different types of scent-control and scent-suppression tests they have conducted. The only device that seemed to make any difference at all was an ozone generator. All the other techniques were pretty useless, versus the nose of a police dog. These articles are really interesting reading, and F&S has incentive from their advertisers to find in favor of the scent-killers, but they don't. One of the tests they run involves a police dog searching for people who have used scent control products. Here is a link to one article in the series, on the Field and Stream website.
Will WeatherWool help me avoid detection by animals or people?
Yes, it will help. To avoid detection by mammals other than humans (who are generally believed to not see color), wool is very useful. Animals such as deer are, in my opinion, most sensitive to scent, sound, movement, silhouette, then camo pattern and colors. Of course, the transmission of scent, and to a lesser extent sound, are dependent upon wind direction. Movement can also be less obvious as the wind picks up and moves leaves and branches. Wool is quiet as can be, and presents a soft silhouette. Instructors at the United States Air Force Arctic Survival School told me the key points for avoiding visual detection by another human are shape, shadow, shine, texture, color, tone, position, movement. WeatherWool can help a lot with shine, color, texture and tone. Also with shape and shadow. I personally always hunt wearing Pants in Solid Drab Color and Lynx Pattern for a Jacket. Deer, turkey, fox have all come within a few steps of me, looked at me, but did not see a human. The dark pants and lighter top -- I think -- prevents critters from perceiving the human silhouette.
Is WeatherWool suitable for thru-hikers (long-distance hikers)?
This was a fairly lengthy exchange we had with a thru-hiker in early January 2017. We hope to follow this up with his feedback on hiking with WeatherWool. It’s a pretty long back-and-forth, so it’s on a separate page.
What is Mouton?
Mouton is the tanned and processed pelt of the highest-graded lamb skins. When a lamb is processed for meat, the pelts are sold as a by-product. The lambs are raised for the meat and the pelt is an afterthought. Most of the pelts wind up as shearling, but the very best ones, less than 1% of them, are processed into Mouton, which is much longer, thicker, softer, silkier and warmer than shearling. Please click here for more info on Mouton.
What is the environmental impact of wool ranching and wool clothing versus synthetics?
Wool obviously is a natural and biodegradable resource. Polyester clothing (that stuff they call "fleece", for example!) is a petroleum-based product. This question is probably going to wind up as a separate page before long ... One of our ranchers, Andy McMurry, just flagged this video about microfibers, and that’s what got me to add this question (25 March 2017). Click for a 3-minute Youtube video on microfibers. The gist of the video is that synthetic products shed tremendous amounts of microfibers as the garments are worn and washed. And these tiny bits of plastic last practically forever and get into everything. Please visit our Related Information page for more info on this.
Production of wool also takes far less input of petroleum products than do synthetic fibers, which are actually petroleum products:
Also, sheep ranching itself is environmentally sound. Again, Andy McMurry has given us information on this subject.
WeatherWool is too expensive for me. What can I do?
Call us. Maybe we can figure something out. Also, check our SPECIALS page, and get on our mailing list.
24 March 2018