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Survival Equipment

Review | Dachstein Woolwear Sweater for winter survival

Wearing a wool sweater is a traditional way to stay warm in cold weather.
Review | Dachstein Woolwear Sweater for winter survival

Cold weather – think wool. This Dachstein Woolwear sweater could be a good investment for your survival gear.

by Leon Pantenburg

SweaterChalet.com supplied the Dachstein Woolwear for this sweater review. I was not paid to do this review, and at the time of publication, SweaterChalet.com was not a sponsor of Survivalcommonsense.com. In May, 2016, Sweaterchalet.com became an advertising sponsor.

Wool is a great fabric for cold weather. I have relied heavily on wool sweaters in different circumstances. Here’s how versatile the garment is:

The Dechstein 100 percent wool mittens, sweater and socks are durable, effective choices for cold weather wear.

The Dachstein Woolwear 100 percent wool mittens, sweater and socks are durable, effective choices for cold weather wear.

  • I was duck hunting, wading in 33 degree water up to my waist at dawn, breaking ice along the way. Periodically, I blew a feeding cackle on my call. The sound of whistling wings started to be heard. I swung the shotgun on a swooping mallard, tripped over a submerged log and did a face plant. I emerged sputtering, and headed for shore and my parked  car. I was glad to have a wool sweater on underneath my camo.
  • The temperature was in the upper 30s and the rain poured down. I was sitting in a tree stand, watching a whitetail buck edge toward me. The poncho covered my blackpowder rifle and kept me dry. The wool sweater kept me warm.
  • The walk from the metro to the downtown Washington D.C office was going to be cold and nasty. Rain had turned to sleet, and I had about 3/4-mile to walk. I was glad to have a wool hat with three-inch brim, a wool sweater on underneath my trench coat and wool dress pants and socks.

In these situations, wool works well.

I’m always upgrading my winter gear, so the Dachstein Woolwear all-wool sweater intrigued me.

The sweater is imported from Austria, and business is headed by Herman Rabenhaupt. The company employs many stay-at-home knitters, according to their website, who are “able to enjoy the company of their children while working at their own pace on sweaters, socks, and gloves.”

Dachstein products are organic and processed with hot water only, according to their website.  The business premises and process machinery are heated by a biomass heating system supplied by local forests.

Before doing a Dachstein review, I consulted a wool expert, my sister Karla Pantenburg Moore. In addition to being one of the most savvy homesteader-types I know, Karla is also a soaper and fibers expert. She teaches soapmaking classes, gardens and cans, washes and cards wool fleeces, then spins the yarn on a spinning wheel. She knits the yarn into beautiful, artisan fiber products.

Hand spun wool yarn

Karla Moore spins wool yarn directly from the washed and combed fleece. Here is a sample of her work.

“The reason wool is so warm is that the fiber insulates so well,” she said. “A cotton sweater will wick the heat away from your body.”

Other aspects that affect a sweater’s heat retention, Karla added, was the type of wool used, the tightness of the yarn and what kind of sheep the fleece comes from.

First impressions of the Dachstein Woolwear sweater are that it’s well-made and nearly bullet proof. It weighs in at about four pounds and is so thick and tightly knitted as to be nearly impervious to rain.

I started wearing the sweater immediately around my house, with the temperatures at about 65-70 degrees. It wasn’t too hot, since I wasn’t exerting myself. Outside, temperatures were between 20 and 30 degrees when my Labs take me for our nightly 1.4-mile walk.

For the past few weeks, all I’ve worn on these walks is the Dachstein sweater, a tee shirt, stocking cap, jeans and light gloves, and I’ve stayed comfortably warm.

The long sleeves worked particularly well with the Dachstein Woolwear mittens. The mittens cover my hands about nine inches from the finger tips. The sleeves overlap the mitten cuffs and make a really warm seal.

The reason wool is comfortable over a wide temperature range, Karla said, is that wool “breathes” and and that helps regulate the body temperatures.

Here’s some wool info from the Dachstein Woolwear website:

  • Wool is up to 10 times more breathable than artificial fiber textiles.
  • Sheep wool is antibacterial, anti-static, and does not irritate the skin.
  • When worn often, wool does not retain body odors.
  • Wool as a natural product, without being modified, has naturally a level of wind and water resistance.
  • Wool can be 100% recycled and is nature friendly.

I liked:

Fit: All Dachstein Woolwear sweaters fit the buyer. You measure a sweater that fits well, and your sleeve length, and send these measurements to the company. In short order, you have essentially a custom sweater.

Sleeves are long and loose. When your base layer shirt, watch, sweater and windbreaker cuffs all come together at the same point on your wrist, the mass bunches up, slides together, and at some point exposes bare skin to the cold. This won’t happen with a Dachstein.

I really liked being able to comfortably slide the sleeves up on my arms, without them being too tight. Field dress a deer or elk, and you’ll really appreciate this aspect.

Torso length: The sweater is long, and extends about four inches below my belt. This makes the design warmer, since it uses more wool and covers more body area than a conventional sweater. When you bend over, the sweater keeps you covered. This eliminates the plumbers butt view.

Weave: The weave is so tight as to be wind and water repellent. On one sleety dog walk, the sweater effectively repelled the moisture and chill associated with 30-degree temperatures and gusty wind.

Dachstein Woolwear sweaters aren’t cheap. You’ll drop just under three Benjamins getting the top of the line.

This makes them overpriced and overkill for most people…

IF

I was dressed entirely in wool on the cold November day I harvested this bull elk.

I was dressed entirely in wool on the cold November day this bull elk was harvested.

…all you want is a good-looking garment to wear casually in town. You can get something cheaper. The casual user, not particularly concerned about the heat retention of a garment,  doesn’t need this kind of quality.

…you just want to make a fashion statement. The Dachsteins are good looking and attractive, but their primary purpose is to keep you warm.

…you’re not concerned about durability or using organic products.

…you’re fine with cheap, manufactured sweaters that rely on slave labor to keep costs down.

“People are used to cheap, machine-made things,” Karla commented. “Anything handmade is going to be expensive. A handmade sweater takes a lot of time, energy and skill to make.”

Still wondering if  a Dachstein sweater is worth the cost? Then, think about what you might be using the sweater for, and where will it be worn.

Then, consider if the sweater could be an investment.

If you can see yourself wearing a sweater frequently, and relying on it as part of your survival gear, then a Dachstein is a good deal.

And maybe, someday, that quality sweater will keep you from getting hypothermic outdoors. Or it could be, the sweater helps you get home when the winter storm stalls the car and you are forced to walk.

At times like this, cost won’t even be a consideration, and you’ll be glad you invested wisely.

Check out the other wool products at Sweaterchalet.com.
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Survival Equipment

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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