Wool is a natural answer to a natural problem. The weather has been cold and changeable for even longer than we’ve been moaning about it – a few hundred, thousand years at least, so we shouldn’t be surprised that evolution has come up with a pretty good solution.
Adding some nurture to nature’s best efforts we take fine merino lambswool, spin it and weave it and then using some of the best wool finishers in the world we mill it. This process brings the woollen fibres together to make a dense barrier against the very worst weather. This is especially effective in the snow. And because it is wool, it still breathes beautifully – keeping you cool when you are active and warm when your body is at rest.
It insulates and protects in a very different way to the glorified plastic jackets we have all become accustomed to. Rather than a complete inert shell, wool responds to the micro climate that your body creates inside (sometimes pretty steamy) and also to the ever changing weather outside.
A howling gale will penetrate your mountain shirt a little. By the time it reaches your skin, it will be a gentle cooling breeze, really comfortable if you’re hiking up a hill.
Wool by its nature is naturally water resistant and can hold up to 30% of its weight in water without even feeling damp so it will withstand miserable drizzle and even a shower. If you happen to be out in the pouring rain, your shirt will get wet through. One of the most amazing things about wool however is that there is a tiny chemical reaction within the fibres, when it gets wet it actually increases in temperature – ten out of ten for Mother Nature there. That means if you’re wet, you’re still warm which is very different from the clammy cold that you feel cooling down in nylon.
What causes the most amazement with a McNair Shirt though is how it copes with the snow. It’s a very different effect to when snow slips off plastic. It’ll kind of grip to your McNair if the snow is that sticky stuff and form an outer layer. This comes off with a quick shake but in the meantime you’ve got the ultimate camo. It becomes a truly natural wintry coat. Of nature not against it.
We attended the world’s biggest trade show in the outdoor and sports world a couple of months ago and the big news was wool! Old school seems to have become new school and Slaithwaite might even be at the cutting edge.
So if you have a McNair Shirt already, get out in the snow if it comes to dear old Blighty over Easter. If you’re off to get the last of the season in the Alps have a great one too. And if you don’t have a McNair shirt yet, perhaps it’s time you joined the woolly revolution.