View Full Version : Wool pants

2006-12-08, 18:28
Feeling good.

I needed to replace my wool winter pants. I wanted good thick/heavy wool pants and good quality. After much online shopping and price comparison, I knew the prices today start at about $60.00 per pair and go up to $250.00 and more. If you want good heavy wool, you are looking at the top price range. It's a good thing good wool wears like iron, I never paid that much for a pair of wool winter pants before.

Finally got smart and visited a local surplus store, the largest that was within a reasonable driving distance. Asked for wool pants. They didn't have much of a selection. Only 2 kinds. The first was labeled "Swedish w/cuff", they had about a dozen pairs of those. The other was German, I believe, and they only had a single pair of those.

I looked through the Swedish. The quality is very good and the wool fabric is thick/heavy. The cuff is a nice affair with a dart and a leather belt with belt loops. Use the belt to close off the bottom of the pants leg. I liked that idea very much. Found a pair in what I thought was good condition and about the right size (no size labels, but a European size stenciled inside, 100 - I think that is the "size", probably cm, that would be about right). Used the store's tape measure to get an approximation on waist size. Tried them on. The legs are a little long, maybe an inch too long, but the waist was okay, slightly large, but not uncomfortably so. I could use braces when needed. Liked the feel of the wool against my skin also. Nice and smooth. Wool has never been much of a problem for me. Sometimes it will itch, but I have found that I can ignore that and live with it if it occurs. Merino wool is totally itchless for me and really feels smooth on my skin. Too bad these aren't merino wool, but that would be asking for way too much though.

When I tried them on, I got a little surpise. There's a metal hook on the bottom of the cuff, on the inside. Actually, 2 hooks on each cuff. One on each side of each leg. I found I could cinch the leather belt down snug and that solved the length problem. I figured that would also keep out ANY cold air when the wind is blowing. There is NO WAY any air is blowing THROUGH the wool. That also left the legs just a little baggy which would make moving about and sitting down a whole lot easier. Plenty of room to bend at the knees and hips. The seat of the pants also has a gusset sewn in the back for plenty of room there.

No zipper - just buttons (metal buttons, the cold isn't going to crack those babys). Man, a buttoned fly brings back memories for those of us that are older than zippers. Also, metal buttons for braces if needed. But, man, buttoning those things through that thick wool takes awhile. I might have to "loosen up" the buttons.

"1944" is stenciled inside. Don't know if that was the year of manufacture or the year the style was designed. Maybe both. :biggrin:

They were on sale for $20.00, regularly $26.99. so I figured I wasn't going to get a better deal.

Bought them and when I got them home, it finally occurred to me what the metal hooks were for - for a loop under the insoles to hold the pants down over boot tops. Not a bad idea really. I opened the seams and removed the hooks since for me they simply dug into the bottom of my ankle and resewed the seams. I'm keeping the hooks in case I find I want to put them back in the future for whatever reason. If I ever find the leg riding up, a leather strap under the insole and connected to the metal hooks would solve that problem fast.

In taking the hooks out, I also realized that I had been very lucky, the pants are new - never been worn. No wear on the pants whatsoever.

So for $20.00, I got a brand new pair of really, really nice winter wool pants.

I haven't decided if I'll be wearing my merino wool long johns under the wool pants or not. The pants are pretty thick and I think the long johns would just be WAY too much. I'll probably save the long johns for wearing at night. They'll help a lot in the hammock.

By the way, if anybody wants new merino long johns, I found a site in NZ that sells tops and bottoms for $70.00 for the pair + $7.00 shipping. Smartwool, Ibex, Icebreaker, etc. charge that much or more for EITHER the top OR bottom. The NZ site pictures the long johns looking rather loose which was okay by me for the price. In following their sizing instructions, I found that what I received is skin tight on the top and very snug on the bottom. I like them that way also. Even better for sleeping.

So --- I'm happy.:birthday:

2006-12-08, 21:00
No Fair! Sounds like a great deal. Did they have XXL? Not many XXL folks in military garb I would imagine...Maybe I could get two pair and sew them together......:ahhhhh:

2006-12-09, 04:11
Have you tried the local army/navy store? There might still be some of the old winter weight pants around. Merino wool is good, soft and warm.

2006-12-09, 12:03
TeeDee, which NZ sight did you find the merino wool set at?

2006-12-09, 15:40
Lanthar - here's the site:


and I see that today (12/09/2006) their prices haven't changed. The best deal I was able to find.They shipped promptly (within 48 hrs, cannot remember exactly) and I got it less than a week after their email that they had shipped. Best deal on shipping too - everybody else in that part of the globe was quoting about $25+ for shipping.

When I woke up this morning, the temperature outside was right at 17F. Great. It gave me a good chance to test the pants. I decided to wear the merino long johns underneath to see if I was right about both being too much.

I take a daily walk before breakfast, 2 miles with full pack just to keep conditioned to it. It had warmed up to 19F by the time I was able to get out the door. Well, I hadn't gone 1/2 mile and I knew that both the long johns and the wool pants were way too much. I had to take off my mittens to get rid of heat. By the time I got home I as pretty soaked. Wearing the long johns (top & bottom), the wool pants, a cotton shirt, a wool turtle-neck bib, an ear band, a jeep wool cap and a light microweave jacket that I use as a rain jacket and wind breaker - works great for both - and it is well ventilated.

I found that the belts at the bottom of the pant legs not only keep the cold air out, but keep the warm air trapped in the pant leg and I didn't have the belts snugged down tight, just touching my ankle. I'm surprised none of the hunting clothing manufacturers haven't picked up on those belts at the bottom of the pant legs - great idea. Really keeps the legs toasty and the heat then gets moved to the rest of the body. Even at 19F my bare hands were warm.

For Monday I'm hoping that the temperature stays the same in the morning and I've decided to keep my legs bare under the wool pants and I'm betting that I'll be warm as toast. And I was right, the wind cannot get through that heavy wool.

I've decided to keep the long johns for sleeping and maybe wearing around camp. Just keep them rolled in the hammock in the snake skins. I do really like those merino wool long johns. Far better than the wool long johns I was issued in the army. Does the army still issue wool long johns?????

2006-12-16, 09:28
No, Polypro(brown)that stinks for a long time :) or the Speer system that has a black base layer sillk synthetic.

2006-12-16, 17:18
No, Polypro(brown)that stinks for a long time :) or the Speer system that has a black base layer sillk synthetic.

No offense meant to those who have served and those currently serving (Rock if this is inappropriate please delete this post), but. ...

I never did understand the Army.

I was in the Army and worked in DOD (Army) for quite a few years. Never could understand the decision process.

Now the reason for this: I have been reading about synthetic base layers melting and compounding the problems medics have in treating. This has been known for quite a while (at least that I know of). I never heard of this problem with cotton or wool (has anybody else here?). I'm pretty sure that the medics in Iraq know about this (some of the articles quote the medics there in treating IED injuries). So why is the Army still issuing synthetic base layers?

Never did understand the Army decision process at the top, Pentagon levels.

2006-12-16, 17:36
Army decision making process: ?????? oh yeah, the lowest bidder, :)

Same kinda problem with Gortex, you get hit and the medics miss the wound because no blood is seen through the Uniform. I had that happen to a friend. We dressed the obvious wounds ,mainly entry wounds but missed a wound that didnt tear the gortex. He nearly bled out.

But what do you do? Gortex and synthetics are goods materials.

2006-12-16, 19:03
This isn't a new problem, the Royal Marines on the HMS Sheffield that got hit by an Exocet (I think) had some pretty bad "polypro burns". As for wounds on the down side, the best trick I've seen for a hasty check is to quickly put clean exam gloves on and expose the patient just enough to get your hands on the downside and "sweep and look", if he's bloody, you''ll see it on your gloves. He may still have a hole, but if he's bleeding badly there should be a leak.

2006-12-16, 21:04
"He may still have a hole, but if he's bleeding badly there should be a leak."

Not if he has on gortex. no place to leak. Been there , done that.

2006-12-16, 21:58
Stray1, I didn't make myself clear, when you check the downside with gloves on you must expose the patient enough to get your gloved hands on his bareback. By goretex I'm assuming you mean an outergarment. If the patient has some sort of pullover undergarment on you'll need to use shears and cut it up the front so you can get your hands around his back. This is more of a triage technique, not a substitute for a thorough primary survey. I saw a sucking (loudly!) chest wound on a guy in a motorcycle wreck several years ago and it was hardly bleeding at all. My point being just because someone isn't bleeding profusely doesn't mean they don't have serious problems. But if they are bleeding, you need to act right now.

2006-12-18, 12:53
The original thought was problems with new materials used by the Army now. I had been in the situation I discribed above in a "hot" environment. We had trouble in Afghan w/ troops wearing Gortex and being able find all the "leaks" by the pad method because the blood couldn't soak through in the same manner it does through BDUs. I am not questioning your medical knowledge by any means and hope i haven't offended you. I too have been throught the SOM-TC at Bragg. USAJFKSWCS.

2006-12-18, 14:03
Not a problem Stray1, no offense taken, nor did I think one was offered. I ain't "super medic" by any stretch of the imagination. People teach me stuff all the time, that is one of the reasons I love Hiking HQ. The army helps you get over being thin skinned. That is a big adjustment to the"real" world, candor isn't often appreciated there.

Jim Henderson
2006-12-18, 15:00
I second the recommendation on those Swedish wool pants. I bought two pair when I lived in Oregon. They were so good, that I could lay in the snow in a snow/ice storm for 3-4 hours and still be warm. I was a "victim" in a snow rescue exercise several years in a row. By the way, the cuff buckles and straps also help lock the leg over the outside of a boot to keep snow out.

These pants keep you warm even when there is a crust of ice that has built up on you. I had long johns underneath plus a GI wannabe jacket and hood. Coldest part of my body was my thinsulated hands. I am sold on these pants.

The steel buttons are a PITA to use when your hands are cold. I like mine with some suspenders, but I think it has belt loops. These are very nice heavy material, and at least one looks brandnew. They also have deep, somewhat strange pockets. If I recall, there are 4 pockets, 2 perside on the front and lower thigh. I think there is one wallet pocket in back, but not sure.

Now I live in SoCal, so not so sure what I might be able to do with them. I heartilly recommend them if you don't mind wool and you need heavy pants that are warm even when damp.

Jim Henderson

2006-12-18, 17:47
Jim - I think Iceman said he could use them :angel:

2006-12-18, 18:20
Jim - you are right about the pockets. The pair I got has 4 pockets. 2 slash pockets (one per side), I call them "slash pockets" because the opening slants down with the front higher that the back and right where "normal" pockets would be. Under the slash pockets are what I call "patch pockets". These are a layer of the same wool material sewn on top of the leg material. They have a button to keep them closed and a flap to protect the top of the pocket. The patch pockets are moved slightly around to the side instead of being on the front like the slash pockets.

They do have belt loops if you prefer a belt to braces.

I have found them to be very comfortable.

We have summer weather now. One night and morning in the teens and now its in the high 60'sf to 70f. Crazy weather. One day everybody is walking around in winter clothes and 2 days later people are back in shorts.

2006-12-18, 22:44
TeeDee, thanks for thinking of me, I actually was joking that I would need two pair to make one out of...My legs resemble tree trunks... And, for my cold weather hunting, I use poly thermals, with microfiber camo pants. My skin finds wool a bit itchy. I did have an old pair of german wool army pants when I first began hunting as a boy, had them for years and they were great.

2006-12-21, 20:07
TeeDee, thanks for thinking of me, I actually was joking that I would need two pair to make one out of...My legs resemble tree trunks... And, for my cold weather hunting, I use poly thermals, with microfiber camo pants. My skin finds wool a bit itchy. I did have an old pair of german wool army pants when I first began hunting as a boy, had them for years and they were great.

Iceman - you should try the Merino wool - totally different from the regular wool of old - feels satiny on the skin - very fine - no itch whatsoever. Even people that itched like mad on regular wool say that they itch just a little on the merino when new, but 1, 2 or 3 washings, and the itching is totally gone.

Really great stuff and it doesn't stink like polypro. Polypro dries a little faster, but the merino keeps you warmer even when wet - something about the polypro evaporating faster and thus pulling heat from the body faster as it evaporates. The wool dries slower and so the body replenishes the heat better as it dries.

Found another site for the merino wool - more sizes and they also have short sleeve tops, both with and without buttons:


Their prices are just as good and the shipping is also.

Great stuff.

2006-12-21, 20:18
Excellent info, thanks. May have to add a pair to my gear to try out...