Warmest Fabric/Insulator?


New member
Just my .02, but you really can't have only one layer... so there is no one material to rely on.

For pure insulation rating, down wins.

For a breathable waterproof, goretex wins.

For base layers, anything that wicks wins. (Merino wool and silk are my choices).

For wear and tear, canvas or leather or cordura (depending on type of use).

You simply need to mix and match layers to gain the best advantages of all of these materials. Saying wool is best is like saying vitamin C is the best vitamin... you need all of them. Not just one.


I am anxious to try the new waterproof down (in a decent parka like Canada Goose) but the OP stated if you could only have 1... and my choice would still be wool. Katherine knit me an Icelandic wool sweater while I was serving ( a sort of woodland camo pattern) that I still trust my life to.:coffee:


If only one, then I'll take my 4th element dry suit undergarments (scuba stuff).. 2+ hours full Emerson. In 40.. Degree water no problem.. (For me ) it's a type of fleece. There are others that are coming to the market soon, same thermal but super thin..


Rlynch, what brand is your fleece? I have some polypropylene that is awesome. It is 3rd generation mil-spec comparable and is so good it series a money back guarantee! If you get cold you get your money back. It, I am always looking for something better.


depends on the situation,if I am going on a two week float trip in alaska,I will be wearing wool.
hiking out west down,fleece works for me


Expedition Leader
One? Wool. From my past experience, Everything that Wickers makes is damn fantastic. Everything they make is American made. They also have a 20% sale going right now, and just about every month at some time.


...You are able to stay dry but are dealing with extreme temperatures and wind. which would you choose?
Normally I would say wool, especially in my Alaskan environment, but with this condition I'd go with down. Think dry, Alaskan interior in winter with temps around minus 40 and windy. And, I'd still freeze in short order.:)


Expedition Leader
When I think of Thinsulate, I just remember how many times I froze my hands as a kid wearing Thinsulate ski gloves. :(

I own very few Thinsulate pieces anymore. (Couple of toques, I think)

Thinsulate loses its properties over time, and the material is packed down. It may initially start out as something too warm, but over time, I view it as cotton, and cotton kills. Proper wool glove inserts and a mitten! You know, when I am not too pissed off about not being able to use my hands, so I just go without gloves.


Expedition Leader
Yeah, I've since switched to mitts for just about everything except driving and casual/around town. Once you've frozen your hands, they are always the first to go, it seems.

I have had minor frostbite a few times when I was in my teens. Biking to school in -30* weather with no gloves, and my general hatred for things on my hands, wrists really worked against me. At most, I would ever wear were latex gloves, and surplus wool gloves while commuting on my bike. I still hate things on my hands, but I keep a pair of mitts around for that time I go "Pockets are not working..."


Alpaca wool. I have a pair of alpaca gloves I'll wear inside of a gore tex glove shell for skiing when in the teens or below. Always wanted to find an alpaca sweater to try out..