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12/31/2017 5:56 PM

I want to share my thoughts on the popular Lester River Bushcraft Boreal shirt. I investigated them for about a year before I pulled the trigger and bought one. Shugg’s video was the last one I watched before I ordered one. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CTuGJgka1qc

Anyway, for those who may not know the Lester River Boreal is basically a hoodie made from a wool Army blanket. It’s hand made and the quality is outstanding!! I first learned about them through the Bushcraft circles where they rave about it. I am a fan of wool but I do recognize the limitations. So, here are my thoughts.

the price was $260.00 which i don’t this is bad for a hand made garment. However, i ended up selling it for these reasons:

1. I found it to be restrictive as wool doesn’t have much stretch to it. 

2. Was not as warm as a higher end Carhartt hoodie. 

3. A little itchy when worn with just a T-shirt. Some say just to make sure you always wear long sleeves under it but that’s not always realistic. 

4. It’s heavy for the amount of warmth it provides. 

In my opinion you are better off buying a heavy weight Carhartt hoodie (or similar) with the dwr treatment. It’s about 1/3 the price, warmer, more stretchy and lighter. If you feel you must have wool then consider a Filson Mackinaw Cruiser or Woolrich Wool Stag Shirt Jac. 

These are only my opinions. I’m interested in hearing what others think of the Boreal Shirt.


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12/31/2017 7:55 PM
I have quite a few Swanndri hoodies that are somewhat similar to the Boreal. They are cozy and comfy and have a lot of utility, but there are a lot of things they are not.
The warmth/weight problem is pretty universal to (woven) wool garments, and I'm always reminded of this whenever someone comments on how warm my knee-length swannis look and I admit that in fact it isn't all that warm by itself. I tend to think of most woven wool garments as shells rather then insulation, they are certainly warmer then a windshell or a hardshell but I nearly always wear them with a fleece or wool sweater for the actual warmth.
I worked outside in various wool coats a bit in the PNW, and I liked many things about them but it was as much design as materials. The wides sleeves where easy to roll out of the way, the closed front and lack of pockets didn't snag or catch on things, and the long length was welcome when sitting on cold and wet equipment seats or reaching overhead. In the on-again-off-again mist/drizzle of the PNW woven wool was perfectly adequate, but in full rain it was hardly ideal. I found a softshell more practical a lot of days, but often missed the extra coverage of the long coats.

The chief advantage of wool garments that I found was simply a wider comfortable temperature range then many synthetics, when I wore my fleece/softshell layers I was much warmer for less weight (and all the other advantages of synthetics) but I found I had to be much more proactive on adding or removing layers throughout the day. With the swanni I would generally just roll my sleeves up or down and drive on.

I still wear a lot of wool but not so much when traveling out of a backpack, lots of other options just pack smaller, weigh less or offer more protection. Out of a car, on the job, around the yard or around town I will often choose wool for aesthetic, sentimental, or tactile reasons, but on a pure dollars and cents comparison they often lose out to other options.
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1/1/2018 4:52 AM
I've tried on a Boreal Shirt, and I too the lack of stretch is hard to get used too...I felt like I was getting stuck in it as I put it on. I also have a Filson double Mackinaw Cruiser, and it's warm, but the weight is absurd. I could have a down coat (probably for the same current price) that weighs 1/4 and is just as warm. I just did a quick google and saw a weight of 4lbs for one...how warm would 64 oz of down and nylon be?

Having said that I do like the Cruiser as it looks classy, and I think it cuts the wind well.

I also think a lot of the appeal of the wool boreal shirt is the durability, especially around fire, which is a big part of the bushcraft world. An ember on that jacket hurts a lot less than on a down jacket.
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1/1/2018 4:56 PM

Agreed. I have a Mackinaw as well but usually end up with the Woolrich Stag Shirt Jac bc it’s 20% nylon and just feels better. This morning I was deer hunting here in Virginia and it was 8 degrees. I had a Capilene base layer, fleece shirt, Patagonia down sweater and Woolrich Stag as the outer layer. My plan was to put the Mountain Serape on if I started to cool off after walking in. That’s exactly what happened. One the Serape was on I stayed warm for the rest of the morning. 

I could have used my Mountain hardwear Phantom down jacket but it’s way too noisy and fragile. That’s why I put the down sweater under the wool. This is where wool shines, it’s quiet and durable. Also, as you said it’s fairly fire resistant, too. 

As a side note, I am glad I tried a Boreal shirt. 

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1/10/2018 7:52 AM

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1/10/2018 11:31 AM

I have a blanket weight wool hooded pullover from G. Fred Asbell that cost about $90.  I just wore it at the HPG Winter Skills event and it worked out well for me.  Certainly heavier than a comparably warm synthetic top, but it is quiet, warm, and layered nicely under my Windcheater.  For the price, I think they are a good option.  As previously stated, wool has its limitations, but for some of my outings I do like it quite a bit.


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