My journey of selecting clothing materials, started many years ago, and it took me a long time until I arrived at my conclusion. Natural materials like wool, linen and hide are in my estimate the best ones.
In my free time I am a hunter, a fisher, and a man of the forest to the backbone.
I live above Vättern [a lake in Sweden], among open fields, rocky landscapes and forests both planted and primeval. The weather is considerably varied, since the lake determines a lot about how the days look. At times the violent winds bring chill all the way to your bones, especially by the lakeside cliffs, when you’re out casting for winter salmon.
I have a copy of a map from the 1600’s, where it describes the landscape as “rocky and rugged terrain”, which I think sums it up quite well.
This puts pressure on your choices of clothing, since the terrain goes up and down, and so do the rapid changes in weather, wind and temperature. Suddenly the ground is cool to your step, when just before the weather was clear.
The weather here at Vättern is as treacherous as it is tantalizing.
I used to wear a lot of materials like polyester with mesh and Gore Tex, but then a few years ago, I started looking up what materiels were used back in the days, in similar demanding terrain. Something that would hold from fall through to spring.
To the South Pole and beyond
Quite casually, I began looking into expeditions like Andrée who flew a hot air balloon to the North Pole, or Amundsen, who was the first man on the South Pole.
Amundsen, especially, I began scrutinizing, and started reading a lot about his clothing. Later I learned that a reissue of his anorak had been made, as a tribute to him, in the same materials — waxed linen and cotton.
It’s true, isn’t it, that you feel a bit like an explorer when you head out into unknown terrain chasing game.
So, of course, my curiosity got the best of me, and I got this anorak. And how I love this piece of clothing! But my love for natural material didn’t stop there. I started looking for a pair of pants. From the same provider, I found my knickerbockers in merino wool, linen and hide. This took me almost three years, since it took a long time to make, and I believe the market demand wasn’t a lot.
Along the way I started purposefully seeking out small scale businesses, so I can get custom work done just for me, and also support local and small.
Everything from long socks, leather belts and different apparel that enables different kinds of hunting and fishing.
My knit cap, made from sheep wool and a steady companion on adventures, is the Southlander model from Red Hat Factory.
What makes me love natural material is the way it adapts to the seasons and weather. Cools when it’s hot, heats when it’s freezing, transports sweat away from the body, and keeps the heat even when rain has soaked it, and isolates well when you use air gap space and the multi-layer principle.
Weighing all these things together, I have determined to always choose natural material from now on.
It can last you a life time if you properly care for it, by waxing it to make it water resistant, oiling the leather on straps, shoes and belts, and patch up what has been worn thin — this way giving it a new life.
I am far from finished with my journey in hunting and fishing and my stories about the one that got away, or the wild hog that charged me. If I teach coming generations about game and fish preservation, and promote the choice of natural materials as clothing, which is better for the environment, I will be proud.