I wore a pair of wool hunting pants to a wedding one time.
They were olive-drab, whipcord wool pants made by Johnson Woolen Mills in Vermont. It was an outdoor wedding on a bright, cool day in October. The pants were new then and didn’t look out of place at all.
I still own that same pair after 25 years and they have been through countless deer hunts, snow storms, and early-spring Allagash trips. Despite some ragged cuffs and a few barbed-wire snags the pants are as good as new. Sadly, I cannot say as much for the marriage that was celebrated that day.
I have dallied over the years with cold-weather clothes made from other materials. Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and other space-age polymers have lured me away in the past. But I have always returned to wool.
And as I prepare for the fall hunting season — taking each wool garment out of storage is like welcoming an old friend to the season opener.
I still have the green-and-black checked wool jacket I wore on that bittersweet day, at age 16, when I killed my first deer. There is a red wool hunting cap that my dad wore every winter for the last ten years of his life. Also, a pair of extra-heavy wool pants that I slipped on over my dress slacks for the daily winter drive to work at my first post-college job. I drove a 1971 Type-III Volkswagen Fastback, with no heat, back then.
The new-comers in the storage bin are just as welcome. Soft Merino wool is now all the rage with outdoor vendors. A few years ago I discovered the Cresta Wool line of base layers at L.L. Bean — I wear them like a second-skin from mid-October to spring break-up and beyond. I own Smart-Wool socks in virtually every weight and length imaginable.
I’m pretty sure I can find a pair that’s appropriate for the next wedding I attend.