When the weather cools down and the seasons change, we naturally turn our attention to snug fires and warm blankets. For the mountain towns and snowy whistle stops warm blankets are a part of daily life, but which one to choose? We've answered a few common questions to help you select the warmest blanket for you.
Which blankets keep you the warmest?
With so many blankets available, how do you know what to buy? We all have different levels of comfort and a blanket purchase should reflect those.
The blanket that will keep you the warmest is essentially one that is large enough to wrap around you, or spread over your bed to cover your body, or one that lays on your couch or chair to envelope you when needed. It's also one that traps your body heat and breathes so you don't over heat. Depending on where you'll be using your blanket, the warmest is also one that retains its warmth when wet, or damp and is easy to clean. Our pick in terms of material for the warmest blanket is wool.
What is a good quality blanket?
A good quality blanket is, quite simply, one that keeps you warm, looks stylish, has a cosy texture, is durable and resists pilling, and lasts well. Blankets made from good quality materials will stand the test of time. For warmth and durability we like wool. This miraculous material has incredible properties and we believe it offers the widest range of highest quality blankets available. A wool blanket will breath, trap warm air, shed dust and dirt, is weather resistant, non allergenic and offers several lighter weight options for warmer temperatures.
However, a good quality blanket is also dependent on what its intended use is. A camping blanket will need to offer a certain set of advantages, as will an occasionally used throw blanket.
What material is the warmest?
Many materials feel soft and warm when running your hand through them and will provide instant relief from cold when you wrap yourself up in them. But not all materials will necessarily continue keeping you warm as the temperature changes around you. Below is a short list of some popular blanket materials.
Wool: This natural material has superstar thermal properties, which you really can't beat. There is no other natural fabric quite like it and it is, hands down, the best option for blankets. Wool is highly breathable and will regulate your temperature keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. It's naturally water resistant, flame retardant and resists dirt and dust. Whether you're selecting a sheepskin, or a lightweight merino throw blanket, wool in any form will keep you warm.
Fleece: This is a human made fabric and is cost effective while being easy care and machine washable. A fleece blanket will have a soft, fuzzy texture and is a lightweight option. The key downsides to fleece is that it pills, doesn't last well, is highly flammable and holds a static charge making it cling to you.
Faux fur: Often considered an ethical alternative to the real thing, faux fur is a synthetic, or polyester fabric that feels super soft, provides warmth and is usually machine washable.
Sherpa: A sherpa blanket is another polyester/ synthetic alternative to a natural material. It essentially mimics sheepskin in look, however it isn't as effective for warmth since it's not the real thing.
Cotton: A cotton blanket is a great option for warmer temperatures but not so effective in the cold. For winter time a warmer fabric is recommended. However, it's worth a mention here since it's widely used for light weight blankets.
Are wool blankets warmest?
Because of the incredible thermal properties of wool and because it performs exceptionally in all conditions, a wool blanket is effective enough to keep you warm through the cold winter months.
A sheepskin blanket is an extremely warm option since it's the pelt or hide with the wool fibre and fleece intact. This provides a windproof, water resistant blanket that will provide a super soft luscious texture and unsurmountable warmth. A wool blanket is often used as an insulation underlay for bedding.
Which is warmer: wool or fleece?
Wool continues to offer insulation when damp or wet and is more weather resistant than fleece. With naturally occurring lanolin, a wool product will repel dirt and moisture while offering a soft texture and plush experience.
Because wool breaths by keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, you're not going to over heat with wool and overall, natural materials are just a bit nicer for a blanket than synthetics. A fleece blanket will often feel warmer than wool when initially thrown around shoulders or placed on a bed. However, because a wool blanket is even more effective at trapping heat, it'll out perform a fleece blanket for warmth.
Why do fuzzy blankets feel warmer?
A soft and cosy blanket is something humans will naturally gravitate towards for warmth, rather than something that's rough to touch. For example, running your hands through a sheepskin blanket will feel rather luxurious and plush in comparison to a felted, or flat wool fibre, or something like a scratchy horse blanket.
It's a tactile thing and a natural perception to believe that if something is soft and fuzzy, then it's likely to feel warm. Many fuzzy blankets have the ability to trap your body heat and radiate it back to you and some are far more efficient and effective than others. It's important to do some research before buying your favourite warm blanket.
What is the most comfortable blanket?
This is really a matter of personal preference. Some people like weighted blankets on their bed to help them sleep, others prefer a woolen blanket to keep them warm. In summer, a simple cotton blanket will suffice for many people.
Typically, something that's soft to the touch and effective against cold temperatures is going to be a good comfort choice for a blanket. We're going to suggest wool, again. Whether you're using a sheepskin throw or a lightweight merino blanket, those magical properties of wool that mother nature provides can't be beat. A good quality woolen or sheepskin blanket is considered a life long investment. It's an item that's durable enough to love for a lifetime with the right care.
A throw blanket is a good choice as well. These are usually smaller in size and lighter in weight than a traditional blanket. They're available in a multitude of materials, which makes them a convenient item to throw on a chair, or couch and are popular on the end of a bed for those 'just in case' situations.
What is the best blanket to sleep with?
Wool has served us well for centuries and is typically considered the warmest option. As mentioned, it locks in heat, regulates body temperature and is non allergenic, making it perfect for sleep. Options are bountiful with lightweight merino, boiled or felted wool and sheepskin blankets, or a throw to toss on your bed. Woolen underlays on beds for extra chilly nights are also a top choice for breathability and temperature control.
At the end of the day the best blanket to sleep with is one that keeps a person warm, is not too hot and that's going to help retain your body heat on the coldest nights. Woolen blankets fit this description well.
Who makes the best wool blankets?
If you're shopping in New Zealand be sure to look for the New Zealand Woolmark symbol. There are many excellent manufacturers of wool blankets and lots of top notch products available.
In terms of who makes the best, it really depends on what you're looking for. For example, when shopping for a mattress underlay for bedding, then you'll want to shop among those brands that offer a specific design for this purpose.
If it's a sheepskin product you're looking for, then peruse our Wilson and Dorset site for more information about these. Some brands specialise in merino wool and others in light options for throwing over furniture to use around shoulders, or for that little bit of extra warmth on your bed at night. We recommend you dive into some more research depending on what you're looking for. Our team at Wilson and Dorset can help guide you through this as well.
What is the best blanket for winter?
Wool blankets offer an unbeatable level of warmth without overheating. With the invaluable and unmatched properties of wool, it really is the best material for a warm winter blanket.
Most woolen products will come with specific washing and care instructions. Take time to read the manufacturers wash guide to ensure your blanket will last well. For Wilson and Dorset sheepskin care instructions, you can find more information here.