The wool blanket. Need I say more? Well I will because it’s by far one of my favorite items in my pack. It enables me to do many more things than your typical blanket while also being much easier to maintain and keep clean. The benefits of wool are endless if you can get over the scratchy feel of it. (Which I have a few tricks to help with that as well). It provides you with much more than just the warmth of a blanket and in dire times it can prove to be quite the life saver.
The obvious uses for the wool blanket are for sleeping and warmth. This can be achieved with a number of items but the wool blanket offers you so much more. I remember a time when I was hitchhiking out of mid Texas and it started to get late. Real late. I had no place to stay and had some extra spending cash so I decided I’d book my first hotel on the trip to clean up and get a good nights rest. Well as I was walking along the hotel strip every hotel I tried to go to was booked solid. Every single one.
I ventured on with Ace, stopping at a few food stands along the way to regain some fuel. It grew to early morning and still no luck. I tried at least 20-30 different hotels in this shady-ish area. Finally! I found one with vacancy. The problem was however they didn’t allow dogs. I decided I had to sleep. Instead, I ventured on. I noticed Ace getting extremely tired as we were coming upon a giant commercial complex. I wasn’t sure what was on the other side and a lame ass security guard was already staring me down as we poked along.
Even after getting around the corner he continued to stalk us but once we got on the other side it was pretty much wilderness with a few more hotels in the area. With one last ditch effort I tried the remaining but no luck was to be found. This is when I threw in the towel and looked for the next best option. As I wiggled my way into the forest behind the hotel it got pretty dirty so I looked for another spot. I found a nice quiet area behind a huge dumpster on the back side of the parking lot. It had a huge wall encasing the dumpster with trees and a fence behind it.
There wasn’t a view from the hotel and it was a quiet little clean spot. The problem however was it covered with small sticks. This was no problem for the wool blanket! I won’t say I got a good nights rest but it kept me from having an even worse night. It was a true life saver in a dire time of need. As Ace and I cuddled up for the night we stayed toasty warm and enjoyed the tranquility of life behind the dumpster.
I thought to myself what a cop would even say if they caught me. I had money for a room, but no room was available. What’s a man to do? Pull out his wool blanket and have a good sleep! Unfortunately there was a car dealership on the other side of the fence and they came into work quite early. They didn’t spot us but we woke up and continued our journey.
This is one example of when the wool blanket saved me for a truly terrible night. With a regular blanket just sitting there would have been awful after 10 minutes. When you add in the other benefits of the wool blanket like staying warm when wet and the ability to self clean itself in the rain offers the traveler a good advantage compared to a regular blanket. The don’t tend to hold nasty smells either like other blankets can.
There are a few down sides to the wool blanket though. It is a bit bulky and heavy. There is really no way around that. I roll mine up super tight and tight it to the bottom of my backpack and it works out really well. When I sit down it gives my butt a nice cushion too. I decided it was well worth the cargo space and weight for me and truly love the ability to get down and dirty with this blanket, throw it out in the rain, and it’s like brand new!
Putting it in the rain is one way to help remove some of the scratch from your blanket but if you have a washer and dryer another good way to do this is by washing it with soft t shirt materials. Many fabrics give off tiny strands and material and the wool blanket seems to actually velcro these tiny fibers. Between washing it down and this process it seems to really soften it up. (It could be in my head but it certainly seems to work).