Which Material Provides Warmth Even When Wet?
Wool is waterproof and an excellent insulator when tightly woven and oiled. In addition, wool is one of the warmest clothing materials because of its innate ability to trap a layer of warm air next to the skin.
Often, people don’t understand the severity of getting wet in the great, wild, and cold outdoors. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or hunting, asking yourself in advance which material provides warmth even when wet can stop your body temperature from plummeting.
Even an easy mountain hike on a summer’s day can leave you shivering on the way down after getting caught in a storm. However, truly understanding heat-retaining clothing and water wicking capabilities can help you stay comfortable and warm in most weather conditions.
Table of Contents
Which material will keep you warm even when wet?
It’s vital to understand which material provides warmth even when wet before heading out on your next adventure. But even before that, you shouldn’t buy any outdoor gear until you learn about the fabrics they are made from, whether that’s for warm or cold weather.
So, for example, you need to know the warmest materials for winter before heading out on alpine hikes.
But most importantly, you need to know how heat-retaining fabrics react when wet. Wool, cotton, and down are some of the most popular materials used for our clothes. But how good are they at keeping you warm when wet?
Let’s take a look:
1. Wool. As one of the warmest materials for winter, wool offers many benefits. For example, wool is waterproof and an excellent insulator when tightly woven and oiled. In addition, wool is one of the warmest clothing materials because of its innate ability to trap a layer of warm air next to the skin.
What’s more, wool’s natural moisture-wicking capabilities keep you dry on the inside and out. When coupled with a layer or two of polyester, the wool becomes one of the ultimate insulating clothing materials.
2. Cotton. Boasting comfort, breathability, and a lightweight feel is some of the reasons cotton is so prevalent in our wardrobes. But the problem with cotton is that it has zero moisture-wicking capabilities, meaning it stays wet and heavy. You stay cold. So, if you know you’re likely to get wet outdoor, do not go near cotton thermal underwear, socks, t-shirts, and jeans.
3. Duck or Goose Down. Although not a common fabric in everyday clothing, down is a premium heat-retaining fabric, but only when dry. When down gets wet, it just doesn’t keep you warm at all. With no insulation when wet and a longer drying time, down is, unfortunately, a useless and expensive material when wet.
Because the world is full of excellent heat-retaining fabrics, we don’t have to suffer from less than sufficient clothing when adventuring.
So carry on reading as we explore which materials provide warmth even when wet.
Does polyester keep you warm when wet?
People often think that polyester doesn’t keep you as warm as wool, but that’s not necessarily true. Although it’s an artificial material, polyester is made of thin strands of woven plastic with excellent wicking capabilities. Therefore, polyester is a perfect insulating base layer.
Although polyester is a heat-retaining fabric, it does its best at keeping you warm for longer in wet conditions when in multiple polyester layers.
However, wool keeps you more comfortably warm when wet.
Does nylon keep you warm when wet?
You’re probably most used to finding nylon on your umbrella or raincoat because of its water-resistant capabilities. As another synthetic material, its tight knitting nature plus urethane coating means you won’t get wet, but you’re unlikely to stay warm.
Nylon is a perfect choice for your upper layer, such as a shell raincoat, but it can make you sweat as well as repel water. However, although it’s not the warmest clothing material, you can stay warm for a short time as your body heat can remain trapped inside the nylon.
Does fleece keep you warm when wet?
In most instances, this synthetic material is made from polyester. Fleece is one of the warmest clothing materials because it offers the same insulation as wool but weighs half as much.
When deciding which is the warmest fabric, it’s certainly up there with wool because it’s thin and light, easy to wash, and highly long-lasting. Moreover, fleece’s breathable nature is one of the best insulating clothing materials. Fleece pairs perfectly with sweat-inducing activities.
Does acrylic insulate when wet?
Acrylic is the bottom of the pile of insulating clothing materials because its construction of vegetable and cotton fibers doesn’t insulate the body. Although acrylic fibers are popular choices for gloves, sweaters, tracksuits, and boots because they are warm when dry, they will not keep you warm when wet.
Because it doesn’t breathe like other fibers, acrylic only holds in sweat and not heat when you warm up. So, although acrylic is one of the warmest materials for winter because of its heat-retaining capabilities, this is only when dry.
Is wool or down warmer?
Down and wool are trendy choices for the brutal winter months, and with good reason. Both materials are made from heat retaining fabrics, but down is ultimately more expensive. This costly price comes from down’s premium natural insulation of duck or goose feathers.
Not only is down lightweight and breathable, but down also retains heat better than most other natural materials, making it one of the warmest materials for winter.
But don’t disregard wool just yet. Being water-resistant, wool takes a long time to get wet and stays warm even when wet. In contrast, down isn’t as effective when wet. It can be hard to know which one to choose, but it’s worth buying both over your lifetime if you’re used to regular rain, snow and cold.
Which wool is warmest?
Finding the warmest wool means focussing on location (where the yarn is sourced), the composition, and how the wool is converted from fibers to yarn. Usually, the more delicate fiber means finer wool.
This finer wool allows warm air to be trapped, blocking cold air out and creating a superior thermal capacity. Coarse wool is never as warm as fine wool.
Always choose yarns made of animal fur for the warmest clothing materials or wool designed with special synthetic fibers.
Some of the warmest wool materials include:
- Merino. It’s warmer than other wools but not as warm as qiviut, cashmere or Angora.
- Alpaca. Although Alpaca fibers are often extremely fine and soft, they can be too itchy for clothing. But Alpaca is still perfect for knitted scarves and mittens.
- Cashmere. Famous for a luxurious, soft-to-hand feel, cashmere is delicate wool with a similar resilience to sheep’s wool.
- Angora. As probably the softest and finest of all the wools already mentioned, Angora wool is light and not very resilient. However, Angora can be an excellent heat-retaining fabric when blended with stronger or more elastic materials.