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What Is Better? The Wool Camping Blanket or The Sleeping Bag

From American Cowboys to the Mexican Vaqueros a wool blanket is simply a classic. You simply do not get the same vibe from taking out a classic Pendleton blanket with you at the campfire as you would if you were using a boring sleeping bag.

When it comes to camping gear and outdoor survival, who cares? The extra warmth of a bag will not only result in better sleep but also could under extreme situations save your life. As a result, this article will examine the pros and cons of the Wool Camping Blanket Vs Sleeping bag for overnight camping away from civilization.

Pros and Cons of The Wool Camping Blanket

Wool Camping Blanket

As with most anything in life, the traditional wool camping blanket has its pros and cons, which are detailed below.

PROS

Water Resistant-A wool blanket has the natural ability to soak up water, which results in you being able to stay dry even if you are caught in an unexpected rainstorm.

Fire Resistance-Wool has natural fire resistance. You can easily imagine how valuable this feature is when you are near a campfire.

Cleaner-A wool blanket, particularly when you are out in the wilderness is easier to clean.

Durability– A wool blanket does not have any mechanical parts, like a zipper that you have to worry about breaking down.

CONS

Heavier– In relation to cold protection or insulation per pound a wool blanket is much heavier than most sleeping bags.

Irritant/Allergy-A a common complaint is that wool blankets can be harsh to the naked skin.

All Wool Isn’t Created Equal

Whether or not a wool blanket works for you depends upon the type of wool that you purchase. The two most common types of wool are Merino and sheep’s wool. An example of sheep’s wool, for the purpose of the article, would be a plain-old, itchy arm, military-issued olive-drab blanket. The civilian equivalent of this blanket would be that Arcturus Military wool blanket that is shown below.

Each of these will be evaluated below. Additionally, as a bonus, I will also review Alpaca wool.

Merino Wool

Wooleek Merino Wool Throw Blanket Striped Yellow Red Blue 66W82L Natural Lambs Wool for Bed Couch

A Merino wool blanket is among the most treasured wool blankets on the market. Granted you’ll pay more for this premium wool choice. But, like with most things in life you’ll be rewarded by paying extra. The biggest advantage that merino has over generic sheep’s wool is that Merino Wool fibers are much finer than coarse, traditional, wool fibers. This results in a Merino blanket feeling better on your bare skin.

One issue of Merino, that isn’t technically a problem is that it is very expensive. As an example, a Merino wool blanket costs _______, while a generic military-like wool blanket costs around $40 more.

Merino is premium wool. So, you should expect it to cost more. However, Merino wool does have a major issue that makes it unsuitable as a go-to camping blanket. And that issue is durability. The fine nature and better feel of Merino wool fibers come a the price of durability. This means a Merino wool blanket may simply not be able to deal with the rigors and abuse that it would take as a camp blanket.

Alpaca Vs Merino Wool

Alpaca Wool and Sheep

To be fair, some of this information, was from a company selling Alpaca wool products. This information is also though backed up by other third-party websites.  The overall agreement though is that Alpaca is among the softest, luxurious and some say the warmest types of wool available. High-end Alpaca wool has even been compared to cashmere. Additionally, Alpaca wool, because of its lack of lanolin is hypoallergenic, lighter, and warmer than Merino or regular wool.

The Pros and Cons of The Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag when compared to a wool blanket is definitely new technology. New doesn’t always mean better. So, I felt you need to know the pros and cons of the sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bag’s Pros and Cons

(Comparison to a Wool Blanket)

PROS

Better Insulation-A sleeping bag offers considerably more insulation per pound than the sleeping bag. For example, a 5 lb. wool blanket can only keep someone warm for temperatures as low as 32F. On the other hand, a 5 lb. sleeping bag can keep you comfortable in temperatures that are -40F.

Packing-A sleeping bag, by design, is made for compactness, which is especially valuable when you are taking your sleeping bag in the backcountry with you.

Temperature Rating-Sleeping bags have a listed suggested temperature rating, which is an invaluable aid for preparedness.

CONS

Fire Resistant– A sleeping bag, in comparison to a wool blanket, has either little or no fire resistance This is especially so when the bag is made from polyester or other synthetic fabrics.

Water Resistant-Sleeping bags are unable to absorb water.

Versatility-Sleeping bags cannot be used for makeshift clothing.

Hygienic-A sleeping bag is harder to keep clean, which is especially true when you are out in the wilderness.

Durability-A sleeping bag with its zippers is not as durable as a blanket.

Sleeping Bag Examples

Low-End

TETON Sports LEEF Lightweight Adult Mummy Sleeping Bag; Great for Hiking, Backpacking and Camping; Free Compression Sack; Black , Adult - 87" x 34" x 22" is an example of, based upon pure utility, how a sleeping bag is superior to a woolen blanket. It is made of polyester filling with synthetic insulation. This bag costs less than $100, it is a bit over 3 pounds and has a temperature rating of 0 F.

Middle-Priced

Eddie Bauer Kara Koram -30 Degree StormDown Sleeping Bag

You can purchase sleeping bags for $2,000 or more. The Eddie Bauer -30 Degree Stormdown Sleeping bag isn’t even near that price. But, for the average person is quite an investment. It can handle temperatures down to -30 degrees F, and it is only four pounds.

FYI-The main reason that you will pay more for the Stormdown is that it uses down instead of synthetic insulation.

You would have to carry, a whole lot of wool blankets to get the same warmth as you would with either the Alpinzo or Eddie Bauer’s Stormdown.

Final Thoughts

A sleeping bag is a clear choice if you are basing your decision on pure utility. (This is especially so if you are going hiking or camping in a tent away from civilization) The sleeping bag is simply lighter and handles temperatures better than a blanket. These advantages, especially concerning cold weather, are lessened during the summer. But, depending upon how are you are backpacking or going in-country, you will definitely appreciate even the lesser few pounds of the sleeping bag.

A wool blanket’s versatility is valuable. But, there are other far more versatile alternatives than an old-school woolen blanket. i.e. Thermal blanket (AKA-Space Blanket or Emergency Blanket). So, save the wool blanket for your camper and go hiking with a boring, but a reliable sleeping bag.