Best of the best: Recycled Wool
As we detail in our post The Inside Scoop: Recycled Wool, looking at the history of humankind, the first-ever textile to be systematically recycled was, in fact, wool. For generations upon generations, people have been crafting and re-crafting wool clothing in a variety of ways across the globe. Today, recycled wool is being integrated in both lifestyle and technical clothing throughout the outdoor industry: it’s just as warm, durable, versatile, and antimicrobial as virgin wool—but replacing virgin with recycled wool saves significant amounts of water and reduces the need for chemicals, two resources heavily used in the manufacturing process of virgin wool.
While we think recycled wool holds its own against its original counterparts, don’t take our word for it—test it out yourself. To start, and to help make your research life easier, we’ve rounded up some of the best recycled wool products that are available right now to eco-friendly outdoorists.
Hudson Trail Collection
Of course, with Smartwool positioned as a national leader in both wool apparel and sustainability practices, it’s perhaps no surprise that the brand has been working on recycled wool products for years now. Smartwool’s Hudson Trail Collection nails the iconic hike-to-brewery or bike-to-brunch look with its recycled wool fleece tops. Throw on one of these mid-layers to beat back autumn’s chills, or layer these breathable pieces under puffy coats once winter temperatures arrive for good.
Tomok Wool Shirts
This Norwegian company relaunched their line of Tomok Wool Shirts in 2019, and now these cool-and-collected button-ups feature 70% reprocessed wool (and 30% nylon). Created as a fun alternative for snow athletes, this wool shirt has all the properties of a technical mid-layer: reinforcements on the elbows, zippered hand pockets, lined shoulders, and snap closures down the front—all together creating what Norrona calls its most rugged and durable midlayer built for backcountry riders.
Sarner Wool Hoodies
One hundred percent of the wool in these Salewa hoodies comes from recycled sources, but that’s not all that makes the Sarner Wool Hoodies special. The dense knit pattern used to sew the wool is so precise, it creates a wind- and water-proof layer—ideal for unpredictable days in the mountains. Throw this layer in your pack “just in case” weather turns for the worst, or plan to use it during windy mountaineering missions or snowy backcountry adventures alike.
The Tartan Blanket Co.
Recycled Wool Blankets
Need something to cozy up with at the fire or lay down at the part for a picnic? Look no further than The Tartan Blanket Co.’s collection of recycled wool blankets, where sustainability meets the chique outdoors. Bonus feature: select blankets have a waterproof side, which will keep picnickers or star-gazers dry year-round. Whether you opt for a classic checkered or plaid blanket, or go with one of the more simple colorways, this blanket will follow your adventures anywhere.
The Fall 2020 season was a special one for Patagonia’s wool collection, as the company hit a new milestone: sourcing 50% of its wool materials from recycled wool. As a result, compared to using virgin wool, Patagonia claims its carbon-dioxide emissions have been reduced by 81%. The brand’s Wollyester Collection, made from these recycled materials, embodies the Patagonia ethos of sustainable yet fashionable and highly functional. Whether you’re looking for a sweater to accompany your hike, commute to the gym, or bundle up with at night, peruse Patagonia’s extensive recycled wool sweater collection—there’s something for the whole family (and, p.s. most of Patagonia’s beanies are now made with recycled products, many including wool).
Emma Athena is an award-winning journalist and fresh-air lover. She writes about adventure and the environment, where humans and nature intersect at their most impactful moments. When she’s not glued to her keyboard or curled up with a book, she’s running in the mountains with her dog or camping with people she loves. To read more of her work and get in contact, visit emmaathena.com.