Yak Wool Sweater That's Perfect For Work And Life
OC sweaters were designed for those who are on the go during the workweek and like to spend weekends adventuring.
ON THE PATH OF ECO-CONSCIOUS ADVENTURE
Introducing a five-part blog series about how you can get the most out of life on the road, traveling lightly, while also benefitting the environment and people around you.
- OC Official Road Tripping Guide
- My 1-Week Challenge Experience
- Reciprocity On The Road
- My OC Sweater in Idyllwild, CA
- Living Simply to Benefit The Planet
I like to spend my weekends doing some sort of activity outside, whether that be hitting the farmer’s market, going out to the mountains to climb, or foraging in the forest.
Because of this wide range of activities, I need clothing that’s adaptable.
Although, throughout time, I’ve ended up with a bunch of low-quality pieces that don’t fit my agenda and have accumulated in my closet.
This happened partially because I didn’t know what I should be buying.
I didn’t think it mattered where my clothing came from or what materials they were made out of. I had to learn along the way.
Durability, warmth, and lightweight fabrics are some of the things I look for when making these purchases now.
I want to stay cool in warmer weather, be comfortable when it gets chilly, and not have to wear a hundred layers.
The key pieces in my outdoor wardrobe are what have kept me safe and warm thru-hiking Tour Du Mont Blanc.
My puffy coat has made it possible for me to summit Mount Washington in its ever-changing conditions.
And the Oliver Charles wool sweater is what kept me protected and comfy through temperature drops at night in Idyllwild.
Clothing is what keeps us going on our path and all the roads in between.
Whether you’re a well-seasoned traveler or someone who’s just stepping into the outdoor world, it can be confusing figuring out what to buy or what you need.
You want something you can be active in, but also nestle into your sleeping bag at the end of a long day with!
Let’s dive into why the Oliver Charles sweater meets all of your outdoor needs and is a wardrobe essential.
best Sweater for outdoor adventure
What should you look for in go-to adventure clothing?
You want staples that are first-of-all functional. Style is just a plus. The kind of wool that the Oliver Charles sweater uses, khullu and merino, embodies most of these qualities, making it a perfect base layer or mid-layer.
Khullu is soft, comfortable, and insulating. It’s also odor-resistant, breathable, and quite durable - checking the boxes for what we look for.
Durability: If you’re going to spend money on an outdoor wardrobe, you want it to last a long time.
Why purchase clothing that’s just going to fall apart?
For sports that are harsher on clothing, like rock climbing, this is more of an issue because your clothing is rubbing up against the rock, which makes more of an opportunity for it to rip.
This is why pants made specifically for rock climbing are often tougher to withstand the abrasion from rocks.
As far as durability and Oliver Charles sweater, wool naturally expands and contracts depending on the environment, meaning it’s flexible. It can bend without breaking or ripping.
The sweater is also 3D-knit, meaning the sweater is seamless, which makes it surprisingly tear-resistant... there are no seams that can unravel.
why wool is the best thermoregulator
Thermoregulation: IMO the most important quality of clothing. When it comes to hiking, and hiking in the winter specifically, you want to stay as dry as possible.
When you’re moving with heavy clothing on, you tend to sweat more. Then, when you stop moving in colder weather, your sweat turns ice cold and you get really cold!
Trust me, it's not fun. You want to keep this from happening to the best of your ability.
Materials that regulate your body temperature, like merino and yak wool, help prevent you from sweating too much. Or, even if you do sweat a bunch, high quality wools absorb/expel excess moisture and keep you feeling dry.
Always keep in mind whether your clothing is water or windproof. Also, ask yourself, Is it breathable and Is it insulated?
Wool regulates body temperature and collects water.
This means wool is moisture-wicking - another important quality of outdoor clothing.
Cotton just doesn’t cut it because your shirt will get soaked within the first hour of your hike. You will then spend the rest of the duration of your excursion wet because it doesn’t dry quickly either.
I’ve seen a massive difference personally between wearing a cotton shirt vs. a wool shirt on a hike. Wool shirts leave you dry, which also means you can avoid carrying an extra shirt to sleep in at night.
I wore my Oliver Charles sweater over my base layers hiking up to Suicide Rock. I didn’t need to wear my puffy coat, as it kept me comfortably warm the way up.
It also was breathable enough so that I wasn’t overheating. While I did sweat, when I got to the top, I dried off quickly and my sweater was never wet!
a go-to you wear all the time, anywhere
This is more of just a plus. Usually, clothing made out of wool helps resist odors, which is great.
If you’re a thru-hiker, this might be something you want to look into. Wool is antimicrobial.
I discovered that wool actively binds and isolates bacteria within its fibers. This isolation of bacteria reduces odor to the point where unwashed wool has 66% less odor intensity than plastic-based fibers.
After all, what causes odor is bacteria hanging around on the skin and in clothes. In this sense, the Oliver Charles crew neck sweater performed better outside than any of the sweaters I own.
It’s incredibly odor-resistant even after many uses without a wash in between!
a high-performance, SOFT go-to sweater
This is so so important. I can’t stress it enough because if you’re going to be wearing it all day - you want to feel good. You don’t want to be itchy or feel constricted, etc.
Other things you can think about when making a purchase are if the clothing is lightweight (which will help you move around easier, be lighter on your back, and be more comfortable when layering) and high performance.
Performance is more important if you’re getting into a specific sport and you’re going to stick with it. You’d want to consider how that specific article of clothing is going to affect and benefit the activity.
When you go that deep, there are certain pieces that you’ll want for that sport. Like if you’re going to be hiking in the winter a lot, you might want to consider a good pair of winter hiking boots and some gaters, along with a hard shell jacket.
But if you’re going to be hiking sporadically throughout the seasons, then you’re better off with regular hiking boots and a simple coat.
Build layers around your go-to sweater
The best way to design your wardrobe for outdoor adventures will always be to evaluate your needs and build around your core pieces.
Think - What kind of activities will you be doing? What season will you be outside in? You don’t have to have the fanciest clothes to head outdoors.
What’s important is what works best for you. Investing in those basic, high-quality pieces will help you avoid spending money before every trip.
Places like Backcountry and REI have big sales, so you don’t have to buy them at full price either!
Over a weekend in Idyllwild, I added the Oliver Charles sweater to my basic wardrobe and tested its versatility.
I was curious to see if this "go-to" sweater held up to its reputation, as I’m sure you’re probably wondering too.
It almost seems too good to be true. We see ethical and sustainable issues with a lot of outdoor products, especially those that come from animals and provide supreme warmth.
It seems as though using khullu and merino as the fabric helps eliminate this issue and is also high-performing.
Base Layers: Having a set of base layers is helpful to 1) keep you insulated and 2) wick away moisture.
I was taught to always carry my base layers with me regardless of the hike (just in case, ya know).
In the wintertime, I wear my base layers underneath my hiking pants and sweater.
I usually sleep in my base layer set as well when I’m on and overnight adventure. You want base layers to fit well and be close to your body.
They shouldn’t be baggy. Merino wool is most favorable among the outdoor community for base layers because it’s moisture-wicking, warm, light, odor-resistant, and comfortable.
Yak wool is also favorable here. I usually sleep in my base layers when I’m camping, but I like throwing on the Oliver Charles sweater in addition to that.
Sweater: A thin, light sweater that is breathable and warm, like the Oliver Charles sweater, is an ideal mid-layer.
Because it's thin and warm, it can also work as a base.
Thermoregulation is the most important consideration with a base or mid-layer because if you’re hiking in the winter you can avoid wearing a jacket over it. A sweater can keep you insulated, without overheating.
Pants: Durability is a must and preferably they are lightweight depending on the activity. My hiking pants are from Fjalraven Kanken.
They’re super light and breathable. I wear them on winter hikes, but with my base layers under them always.
I like that they zip off into shorts as well. My rock climbing pants on the other hand are much more durable. The fabric is tougher. If I were to wear my hiking pants climbing, they’d likely rip.
What to layer over your go-to sweater
Puffy Coat: I take my puffy coat with me on every outdoor adventure. I have a down coat from Arcteryx.
There is a continuous argument about whether to choose a synthetic puffy coat or down.
Synthetic is obviously cheaper but can be heavier and last a shorter length of time.
Down can last a very long time, if it’s well taken care of, but is more expensive. Down puffy coats are lighter and have an equal amount of warmth to the synthetic coats.
They also pack smaller because they compress better. The only words of caution I have with a down puffy coat is - don’t wear it climbing.
I wore mine climbing in Joshua Tree and it ripped a little bit on the rock. This was my own fault, not the coats, but anyways - don’t do it.
Wear a durable coat when you’re climbing!
Windbreaker/Rain Coat: It’s nice to have a jacket that doubles as both. I have a rain jacket from Outdoor Research that doubles as a windbreaker.
As far as something a little more heavy-duty, I have a shell from Arcteryx. I wear it in alpine conditions. It’s light, strong, and keeps me protected and dry.
I’ve also worn it in 70mph winds on the top of Mount Madison in New Hampshire, and it kept me insulated.
Even though it's a base or mid-layer, I've noticed that my OC sweater is remarkably good at protecting against wind.
Socks: What socks you wear matters! You don’t want to be walking in wet socks. Get it in your brain that the conditions your feet are in are critical.
If you’re thru-hiking and your feet get wet and stay wet - you’re going to be in trouble.
Socks should last a long time and keep you warm and dry. I wear Darn Tough.
Because they use high-quality wool like Oliver Charles, their products can be worn over and over and they'll never smell...
They also fit snug on your feet and keep em’ dry. There’s also a lifetime guarantee on them, so if they fall apart, Darn Tough will take care of you... just like with my Oliver Charles sweater.
Versatile Sweaters For Work And Life
The clothing market is saturated. And there’s a lot of junk out there!
Having guidance and asking questions makes finding the essential pieces to your wardrobe easy.
Look for well-made, versatile pieces and you’ll end up saving time and money.
Think of it as something you only need to do once because these pieces can be shared from adventure to adventure.
After experimenting with the OC sweater in Idyllwild, I think that whether you’re an avid adventurer or just like to spend time in nature, it’s a staple you'll hold on to for life.
After all, these sweaters were designed specifically for those of us who are on the go during the workweek and like to spend our weekends adventuring.
Lia Klinchik is a freelance blogger, content creator, and editor, who studies wellness and nutrition. She's passionate about sustainability, travel, and making the world a better place. Through her writing, she hopes to convey meaningful messages that change people's minds.