By: Blonde Two
From time to time we Blondes are sent free outdoor products to field test and promote. We will always be honest about our findings and many products we don’t keep for ourselves find their way into our expedition stores. Great for us, great for you and great for our youngsters!
Natural fibres for outdoor gear
As a lover of the outdoors I appreciate outdoor gear that does the job it was designed to do. I want to keep warm, keep dry and keep safe during all of my outdoor activities. This does often mean I find myself wearing a lot of synthetic clothing. Something which, we have come to learn over the last few years, isn’t always a good thing. So what about natural fibres? Do they offer the opportunity for us to be kind to our environment at the same time as enjoying it? The Blonde preference for merino wool is well documented but would we ever opt for waxed cotton waterproofs or wool sleeping bags? We would definitely be willing to try but for now here are five reasons natural fibres can be a great addition to your outdoor gear wardrobe.
- Natural fibres usually have a lower impact on the environment than synthetic ones. This is a complicated one; natural fibres generally require less energy to produce (and use less carbon) but some require large amounts of water and pesticides. Natural fibres also sometimes present issues around animal protection and monoculture. Research is underway into making synthetic fibres that biodegrade but natural fibres are already good at this.
- Natural fibres feel great against your skin. If you’re old enough to remember the electrifying days of nylon sheets, you’ll know why we don’t use them anymore. Synthetic fibres (in my opinion) are just not as comfortable against the skin as natural ones.
- Natural fibres are less stinky when you exercise. Let’s face it, we all get a bit sweaty walking up a hill. Research (with a ‘trained odour panel’) suggests that the microbial odour of natural fibres is less than that of synthetic fibres. If you’ve ever compared the impact of two days’ walking plus an overnight camp on different types of base layer, you’ll understand at least one reason we Blondes favour merino wool.
- Natural fibres can keep you both warm and cool. Think about it. If you were a sheep you would need to keep cosy on winter hill nights and cool when the sun came out the next day. These insulation properties are why wool is such a great material for walking.
- Natural fibres can be lightweight. We all know that a Shetland jumper is heavier than a synthetic fleece, and takes up more room in your rucksack but how about a down sleeping bag, or a silk sleeping bag liner? Both really warm, really light and really squashable.
Modern blended fibres
Of course these days you don’t always have to choose between natural and synthetic fibres, there are lots of clever mixes available. In these photos B1 and I are wearing Rohan’s Merino Fusion jumper, made from a blend of 90% cosy merino wool (definitely plenty of warmth for the weight), and just enough synthetic fibres to keep it stretchy and long-lasting. With clothing waste being high on the environmental agenda, it pays to choose clothes that can do more than one job, and will stand the test of time.