The Warmest Socks, Gloves, Hats and Scarves

Qivit: The Warmest Socks, Gloves, Hats and Scarves

Click here if you want to jump straight to my list of the warmest garments available.

I’ve been researching the warmest wool products available. Here’s what I discovered:

Qiviut (Musk Ox Down)

Large_mammal_musk_ox
Qiviut (pronounced “kiv-ee-ute”) is the name for the downy hair of the musk ox. It is the warmest fibre in the world — about eight times as warm as sheep’s wool.

Qiviut is also ultralight. It’s expensive too — a pair of Qiviut socks will costs about $175.

Musk oxen live in Alaska and Canada where temperatures sometimes drop to –100ºF (-73ºC), so they need protection.

I’ve been testing Qiviut scarfs — and they are superlatively warm. Qiviut’s combination of intense warmth and ultralight hand is unique.

A single garment of it can make a significant difference on a frostbitten night.

In Alaska, qiviut is obtained from farmed animals or gathered from the wild during the molt. Unlike sheep, the musk ox are not sheared.

Many of these Qiviut websites are run by the knitters themselves:

Yak Down

yak_lg

Similar to qiviut, yak down is a very warm, lightweight and soft fibre. I like it because it’s a more affordable alternative to the rare qiviut.

Yaks are primarily raised by nomadic Tibetan and Mongolian families. Their wool is combed once per year in the springtime.

According to Kora, a yak performance wear company, yak fabric is 40% warmer merino wool. It has 66% greater air permeability and 17% greater water vapour permeability (tested with ASTM D1518, ASTM D737, ASTM E96).

Bison Down

American_bison_k5680-1

Bison down is a very warm, insulating fibre. It is also very durable for such a soft fibre. It has a moisture regain of about 30%, compared to 18% for wool — this means that even when saturated, the fibre draws moisture away from one’s skin.

There is only a limited amount of fibre available – estimated at 10,000 pounds per year versus 2,100,000,000 pounds of sheep wool.

It is harvested in Colorado and South Dakota, as a by-product of the bison meat industry.

Alpaca Wool

threads078

Alpaca wool is about three times as warm as sheep’s wool. It is fine, lightweight and lustrous.

Alpaca is soft as cashmere but stronger and less costly. It’s more durable than merino.

It is durable, and bears no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.

Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile.

Other Wools

Wild Kashmiri goats Capra falconeri cashmiriensis  roaming the Great Orme headland in Llandudno North Wales

Other warm (and very soft) wools include angora, cashmere, vicuna and guanaco.

Durability and Fineness

In terms of durability, bison is in most cases the strongest, followed by qiviut and yak down, followed by alpaca and then merino.

In terms of fineness, any fibre that has a diameter of 20 µ (microns) or less will feel very soft to the touch. In the alpaca world, the labelled “royal” alpaca should indicate fibres under 19 µ, “baby” alpaca should indicate fibres that are around 22.5µ and “superfine” alpaca is 26µ. There’s also an International Alpaca Mark that indicates the fibre is less than 28 µ. In the merino world, look for wool labelled “ultrafine” (around 15-17 µ) or “superfine” (about 24 µ).

Here’s a list of fibres from finest to coarsest (in microns): Suri Alpaca (10 -15 µ), Qiviut (11-13 µ), Yak (15 – 19 µ), Huacava Alpaca (15 – 29 µ), Cashmere (15 – 18.5 µ), Ultrafine Merino (17 µ), Yak Down (17.5 to 19µ), Bison (18.5 µ), Superfine Merino (24 µ), Standard Wool (30 – 32 µ), Human Hair (60 – 80 µ).

Based on this criteria, these are the warmest woolens I could find:

Warmest Socks

Warmest Gloves

Warmest Hats

Warmest Scarves

Warmest Base Layers (Top)

Warmest Base Layer (Bottom)

Warmest Sweaters

Warmest Throw Blankets

Warmest Blankets

Warmest Fibre Reference

Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook — I gleaned much information from this book.

Selvedge Denim Jeans Made In The USA

Tellason Jeans

Tellason jeans are made in San Francisco, were they were first product during the Goldrush. Tellason jeans are constructed selvedge denim form Cone’ White Oak mill in Greensboro, North Carolina. Selvedge denim is made on traditional shuttle looms. Selvedge denim is tightly woven, making the denim stronger and more durable. Selvedge also has a stronger outseam that will resist fraying more than a stitched out seam. Originally, Cone Mills supplied denim for Levi’s beginning in 1910, becoming the exclusive supplier for 501 jeans in 1922.

Tellason has a nice video introducing the company’s vision:

 

Raleigh Denim

Raleigh Denim jeans are made in Raleigh, North Carolina. In fact, 98% of materials used to construct the jeans comes from North Carolina suppliers, including the denim which comes from Cone Mills‘s White Oak factory. You can see the details of their construction here.

3Sixteen

3Sixteen jeans are made in New York City using raw selvedge denim from the Kuroki Mills in Japan. The mill is renowned for their raw denim (which is not washed during production). Raw denim is generally dark and uniform, so that you can fade the jeans yourself. It is also a “slubby” denim, meaning it is intentionally spun to create an irregular texture.

3Sixteen also has premium denim line called “3sixteen+” that uses uncalandered unsigned (i.e. even more raw) Okinawa denim.

Left Field

Left Field jeans are made in New York City. They are also constructed with raw denim the Kuroki Mills in Japan.

Rogue Territory

Rogue Territory jeans are handmade in Los Angeles, California, using denim from Kaihara Mills in Japan. The mill is renowned for their sanforised (pre-shrunk) selvedge denim it has produced since 1951. The mill uses ring yarn spinning and vintage production by narrow width shuttle machines. Like most upscale denim manufacturers, Kaihara uses the “rope dyeing” method to color their jeans. The technique involves twisting the threads of yard into a rope-like shape, then dipping the rope into a bath of indigo.

Mister Freedom Jeans

The brainchild of a Frenchman living in Los Angeles by the name of Christophe Loiron, Mister Freedom jeans are handmade with great attention to detail, using un-sanforized (not pre-shrunk) indigo blue 12 oz. denim.

 

Other jeans made in the U.S.: Agave Denim, Rising Sun, Roy Denim, Certified Jeans (work jeans), Diamond Gusset (work jeans), Round House (dungarees), Texas Jeans, Pointer Brand, 7 For All Mankind, RRL (Ralph Lauren), Ernest Sewn, William Rast, Rag & Bone, Taylor Stitch, True Religion, J. Brand and Todd Shelton.

You can read more about the history of denim in the books Global Denim and Fugitive Denim.

Thanks to D. Groundsel for his denim intell.

Buy It For Life: Classic Backpacks By Duluth Pack

In our “Buy It For Life” posts we feature products that are built to last a lifetime. We also give preference to products that are very durable, are warrantied for life, and are made in the U.S.

Based in Minnesota, Duluth Pack makes high durable work clothes (for both men and women), and classic bags.

This is their Paul Bunyan Canoe Pack, made with 18 oz canvas in the U.S. It sells for $230.

This is their classic Child’s Backpack, constructed with 15-ounce canvas. It sells for $75.

This is their Wildland Firefighter Backpack which is constructed with 18-ounce canvas, and reinforced at critical stress points with thick leather and hand hammered copper rivets. It sells for $450.

Duluth guarantees their products for life.

For some reason, Duluth Pack’s website only has illustrations of their products — somewhat obscuring them from public view! However, you can see their full range of U.S.-Made products on Amazon.

 

Buy It For Life: Mulholland Waxed Canvas Negotiator Bag

In our “Buy It For Life” posts we feature products that are built to last a lifetime. We also give preference to products that are very durable, are warrantied for life, and are made in the U.S.

Founded in San Francisco in 1984, Mulholland is a small company run by a father and his two sons. They specialize in handcrafting bags and accessories using raw materials sourced in the U.S. Their Negotiator Bag, featured here, is made with waxed canvas, a heavy-duty fabric which is dipped in paraffin for water resistance and strength.

You can get Mulholland cases on Amazon, or from Mulholland directly.

 

Underrated Fiber Series: Yak Wool

In our underrated fiber series, we will be featuring products made with wool from alpacas, llamas, vicunas, bison, musk oxen, and yaks.

Similar to Bison wool, Yak wool is a very warm, lightweight and soft fiber. Yaks are primarily raised by nomadic Tibetan and Mongolian families. Their wool is combed (not shorn) once per year in the springtime when the animals shed their winter coat.

Khunu offer a range of athletic clothing that is made with 100% Himalayan yak wool. Khunu is based in Beijing, China, and run by Aaron Pattillo from the U.S., and Julian Wilson, a former British Army officer.

Khunu says that independent lab tests have shown yak wool to be 10-15% warmer than merino wool of Australia and New Zealand. They claim their wool has a luxurious hand feel which is comparable to cashmere, because only the ultrafine down fibers of the Yak’s coat are used (see more information here). Describing Yak down, the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook says:

White yaks produce more fiber than darker ones, but because there are mostly dark yaks, white fiber is still far less common…[T]he fiber cannot be succinctly described, Some is crimpy, and some if more sleek, closer to alpaca than cashmere or qiviut (musk ox wool).

In sum, Yak clothing is expensive, but it is a good choice for for outings in very cold weather.