Last Updated on 27/08/2023
Finding the Best Wool Anorak for Bushcraft
In this guide to the best wool anorak for bushcraft, we share some of the toughest, warmest. lightest, and most reliable wool anoraks out there. You will learn about what makes wool such a good material for bushcraft anoraks and just how weatherproof they really are. We also include two wool jackets to compete with so you can judge for yourself whether a wool anorak is better than a jacket.
Traditional wool anoraks were a type of pullover smock – like a poncho with sleeves and a hood. They are used in some of the coldest regions on the planet and have been for many centuries. You can wear them as a mid-layer in very wet weather but they are best used as an outer layer for warmth and protection.
Anoraks made from wool are ideal for bushcraft and working outdoors because they are so versatile and durable. Often worn over one or more under-layers, a wool anorak is a perfect shell for cool weather. Base layer tops with hoods are particularly good and eliminate any itchiness whatsoever. Wool is naturally water-resistant and windproof (depending on the knit) however it can also be worn under a waterproof jacket for complete protection.
In this guide, we recommend 5 of the best wool anoraks and also some other commendable options worth mentioning. We also answer some of the most common questions about woolen anoraks, you won’t believe some of them.
Best Wool Anoraks and Jackets for Bushcraft
WeatherWool Al’s Anorak
- MATERIALS: 100% Wool
- FEATURES: Adjustable Hood, Kangaroo Pocket with Internal Zip Pocket, Button Closure, Full-Length Side Zips
WeatherWool Al’s Anorak is one of the best bushcraft anoraks made from 100% wool and made in the USA. The experts at WeatherWool specialize in wool clothing designed for outdoor use and Al’s Anorak is a prime example. WeatherWool’s wool is unique in that they make it themselves so it has been tested and adapted over the years to be both extremely rugged as well as soft against your skin (nonitchy).
One of the best features of this wool anorak is the full-length side zips on either side which you can open up to cool down and prevent sweating. These side zips come in handy if you’re hiking, chopping wood, or exerting yourself in any other way as you don’t have to keep taking off your jacket and putting it back on. You can also control the temperature by opening the quarter-length button neck and loosening the wrist cuffs.
Unlike some of the other anoraks, this doesn’t look like a reenactment costume, it is what some might call ‘smart but casual. There is an abundance of useful pockets including two chest pockets, a kangaroo pouch pocket on the front, and then a hidden zip pocket on the inside behind the pouch pocket. The buttons are attached using slots onto a strap instead of stitching which makes them extra strong and unlikely to ever come loose.
CONCLUSION: You can get Al’s Anorak from WeatherWool in a midweight or full weight option depending on how you want your layering system to work and there are a few colors to choose from including a Lynx pattern for camouflage. This is an excellent wool hoodie for bushcraft and hunting with temperature regulation and functionality above its competitors.
Lester River Bushcraft Wool Boreal Shirt Anorak
- MATERIALS: 100% Wool
- FEATURES: Hood, Kangaroo Pocket with Internal Zip Pocket, Drawstring Closure
The Lester River Bushcraft Wool Boreal Shirt is another anorak that is perfect for bushcraft and outdoor use. Lester River Bushcraft (LRB) started out making knives but is now making a name for themselves thanks to their 100% wool smock. They only have a small range of items and you may have to join a waiting list to get your size but the anticipation is worth it.
The LRB Wool Boreal Shirt is made from thick, heavyweight wool that provides maximum warmth and durability. It is fairly loose fitting so you can wear plenty of layers underneath and it is an ideal outer layer in all weathers. Just because it has a generous fit doesn’t mean you can’t seal it up though.
The cuffs have snap closures so that the sleeves don’t travel past your wrist and get in the way when you’re working and also to keep the heat in. The length is just right so that you can sit down on the back of the anorak and keep your butt warm but not too long that you can’t access your pockets or hip belt. You can also sinch up around the bottom to prevent any drafts from getting inside your anorak.
By tucking your head in and sinching up the toggle cords, the hood, and neck gaiter really help keep your head and chin warm. When you pull everything in tight you will feel the warmth and appreciate the thickness of the fabric.
CONCLUSION: The Lester River Bushcraft 100% Wool Boreal Shirt is probably the best wool anorak if you want extra thick fabric and an unrestricted fit. It is warm and cozy as well as durable and protective which is the secret to all good winter bushcraft clothing.
Fjällräven Singi Wool Padded Parka
- MATERIALS: 88% wool, 12% polylactide Insulation, 65% polyester, 35% cotton Lining, G-1000 Lite Eco Shell: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
- FEATURES: Adjustable Hood, Pockets, Full-Length Zip with Storm Flap, Adjustable Cuffs and Hem
The Fjallraven Singi Wool Padded Parka is not what you might expect to be near the top of this guide for anoraks (because technically it isn’t a true anorak!) but there is a very good reason that it is.
The reason this wool-lined anorak ranks so highly is that you get the benefits of wool as well as the benefits of the G-1000 Lite Eco shell. The shell is both wind and water-resistant and is incredibly durable; three key factors from a bushcrafters perspective. You can treat the G-1000 outer shell with Fjallravens Greenland Wax to maintain and improve the waterproofing level which is another bonus point for longevity.
The inner lining is made from a super soft recycled wool which acts as its own insulation and moisture-wicking layer to keep you warm and comfortable. All the materials are sustainably sourced and you can be absolutely sure that only the best materials are used and there is no corner-cutting in the manufacturing process.
Two big benefits this wool insulated anorak has over the smock/hoodie style of bushcraft anorak is a full-length zip and lots of pockets. If your only pocket is a kangaroo pouch style pocket then you have no secure place to store things and no ability to organize things into individual pockets. This wool jacket has two side pockets and a chest pocket on the outside and then mesh pockets on the inside including a zipped pocket for phone, keys, and wallet.
CONCLUSION: The Singi Wool Padded Parka from Fjallraven is expensive but if you want the best wool anorak for bushcraft then this is our recommendation. It has all the benefits of wool with the addition of a breathable shell that adds durability and can be made windproof and waterproof with some wax. You are not limited by a quarter-length opening and have enough sealable pockets to keep things secure and organized.
AND ALSO: This anorak just fits better and is engineered by teams of experts to be as functional as possible.
Swanndri Original Wool Bush Shirt with Lace-Up Front
- MATERIALS: 100% Wool 75 gsm Outer, High Wool Blend Lining
- FEATURES: Hood, Chest Pocket, Drawstring Closure
The Swanndri Original Wool Bush Shirt with Lace-Up Front is one of our favorite New Zealand exports and Swanndri have specialized in rugged outdoor clothing for over 100 years. They have built a reputation for lasting decades and have become one of the trusted go-to bushcraft brands for wool tops. Especially their anorak and smock range which are all based on this original bush shirt.
The outer wool of this anorak is rugged and dense but soft and supple while the lining has been blended with polyester (I think) so it feels soft against your skin. You can close up the collar with the drawstring closure and then secure it with a button across the top which is often necessary for bad weather. Otherwise, your neck would be quite exposed.
The fit is quite long so that when you sit down on the ground your butt is covered and you can sit on the back of the anorak. The wool is durable enough to do this without fear and why it is so good for bushcraft. It is a shame there is only one chest pocket and nowhere to keep your hands warm.
CONCLUSION: The Original Wool Bush Shirt from Swanndri is one of the most trusted and reliable wool anoraks you can buy. Suppliers in America and Europe seem to be few and far between so you may have to import it directly from New Zealand. If you want a bushcraft anorak that won’t damage easily and will last a long time even if worn every day then this might be the one for you.
Fjallraven Varmland Wool Jacket
- MATERIALS: Face fabric: 80% recycled wool, 20% nylon, Panels: G-1000 Silent Eco (65% polyester, 35% cotton)
- FEATURES: Adjustable Hood, Pockets, Full-Length Zip with Storm Flap, Adjustable Cuffs and Hem
The Fjallraven Varmland Wool Jacket has many of the same benefits that the Fjallraven Singi Parka has over other bushcraft anoraks in that it has a full-length zip, multiple pockets, and a more articulated fit. It is designed as a hunting jacket with reinforcements on the shoulders, back of the arms, sleeve cuffs, and pockets. The shoulder patches are for resting your gun on as you hunt but are equally useful for carrying big logs and bundles of firewood.
Unlike the baggier wool poncho anorak style, this is more of a smart but rugged jacket. The kind of jacket your grandad has been using for the last 30 years. If you wear it into town people will automatically assume you know how to create a feather stick and start a fire with your hands. But seriously, this jacket looks smart and means business.
The reinforcements on the arms and sleeves are appreciated the longer you own the jacket as these are the areas that are prone to show signs of wear first. With this wool bushcraft jacket, you can apply wax to the G-1000 panels which helps protect them and increase their waterproofing.
CONCLUSION: Overall the Varmland Wool Jacket from Fjallraven is ideal for bushcraft and outdoor work as it is designed for hunting. The pockets are wool-lined for extra warmth on cold days and on the warmer days, you can simply open the zip. The wool keeps working even in the rain and never seems to soak through to the inside. Definitely worth comparing to some of the other options.
Boreal Mountain Anoraks The Rough Anorak
- MATERIALS: 95% wool / 5% synthetic
- FEATURES: Hood, Kangaroo Pocket, Drawstring Closure, Reinforced Hems
Boreal Mountain Anoraks has only been around since 2016 but the founder made his first wool anorak well before that out fo a military blanket. They now have a wide range of wool anoraks to choose from which are all made in Canada where they are tested to endure the freezing winters. The Rough Anorak is our favorite design although they are all equally good, you just have to choose the style you want.
Starting with the hood. It isn’t too large and can be tightened with drawcords on either side which means you can trap all the heat in while still wearing a hat underneath. Beneath that is the drawstring neck gaiter which really helps keep your neck and lower face warm even when the snow is blowing sideways into your face. Because the wool has been milled and blended with 5% synthetic fibers it is surprisingly soft against the skin.
The length is just right so that when you sit down you can either lift it up slightly or instead just sit on it and use it to keep your butt warm. You can wear layers underneath or fit one of their canvas anoraks over the top for a multi-layered system. There are no zips to break and the drawstrings do a perfectly good job of securing it closed when needed.
CONCLUSION: The Rough Anorak is named so because it is designed to be used to rough it outdoors, hunting, camping, cooking on a fire, and pushing through thick brush. All the trims are finished to a high degree and add an extra level of durability in the long term. You can buy online or visit their shop in Quebec to try one on before you buy.
Dartmoor Wildcrafts Wool Boreal Shirt Ob-1 Bushcraft Hoody
- MATERIALS: 100% Wool
- FEATURES: Hood, Kangaroo Pocket, Central Chest Pocket, Drawstring Closure
The Dartmoor Wildcrafts Wool Boreal Shirt is a great value anorak because it is all handmade using vintage military wool. This type of wool is durable, resistant to rain, and warm even if it gets wet. Despite being so hard-wearing, the wool is soft and not too itchy although it is best worn over a long-sleeved shirt or mid-layer.
Every Boreal Shirt is hand sewn by expert sewer Margeret so you can get a custom fit and you know it will look like the one pictured. You get a large kangaroo pocket to keep your hands warm when standing around as well as a small pocket just above that is big enough to keep a small neck knife. The hood has toggle adjusters so that you can draw it in around your face when it’s cold.
CONCLUSION: The Wool Boreal Shirt Ob-1 Bushcraft Hoody from Dartmoor Wildcrafts is not as highly finished as the Boreal Mountain Anoraks but it does just as good a job of keeping you warm and protected. The benefit of buying from a small company that handmakes their products like this one is that you can often get a custom fit as well as a highly personal service. If you don’t want to break the bank but want all the benefits of a wool anorak then don’t overlook this one.
What is a Wool Anorak?
A wool anorak is a type of pullover jacket with a hood and a partial opening at the neck. They are commonly made from 100% wool to take full advantage of all the benefits that wool has although they can contain a minority synthetic blend in some cases. Designed to be used outdoors as an outer or mid-layer to add warmth, they are also used as protection against the elements.
While the term anorak is loosely defined as being more of a pullover smock than a jacket, I and many others will refer to a jacket as an anorak from time to time. And so we think it is ok to include 1 or two wool jackets in this guide (until we get pulled up by the correction police).
Some common features on a wool anorak are a hood, kangaroo pouch pocket, button closure, neck gaiter, adjustable cuffs, and waistband.
Are Wool Anoraks Waterproof?
Rain will bead off initially but then eventually soak in if it persists and so you can get canvas anoraks to wear over the top or any other kind of rain jacket.
Wool anoraks are water-resistant but they will not block water from passing through. You need a waterproof outer shell jacket over the top to be totally protected. Wool is resistant to rain thanks to its natural lanolin coating and will keep you dry in light showers and snow. Even if it does get a bit soaked, wool can absorb around 50% of its own weight in water before it even feels damp.
Just because wool absorbs water doesn’t mean you get wet. Wool controls body temperature and regulates humidity very well and so will quickly dry out just from body heat alone so that you always stay comfortable.
Are Wool Anoraks Windproof?
Wool anoraks definitely help to block out the wind but they are not totally windproof. Because the wool is spun together, there are millions of tiny gaps between the wool fibers that wind can pass through. It takes a pretty cold and strong wind to get through an anorak but it can and will happen. You can counter this by wearing a wind stopper or waterproof jacket over the top or by wearing long-sleeved base layers underneath.
That being said, some of the thicker, more heavyweight wool anoraks will block around 90% of wind just through sheer density.
Are Wool Anoraks Warmer than Down Jackets?
Wool anoraks are not warmer than down jackets in general but there are exceptions. You can get thick wool jackets that are warmer than a thin down jacket for example. Here are some of the benefits and differences between the two.
Down has a better warmth to weight ratio which means that it is technically warmer than wool. As well as being super lightweight, down can be compressed for extra compact storage and then fluffed back up again before use. The main issue with down insulation vs wool anorak is that it doesn’t work if it gets wet. You can get hydroponically treated down which doesn’t suffer quite as bad but neither is as good as wool.
Wool is very warm but not quite as lightweight or compact as down. Two big benefits wool does have though are it’s weatherproofing and durability which are superior to down jackets.
When you wear a down jacket you feel toasty warm but in a wool anorak, you always feel just right.
Can You Wear Wool Anoraks in Summer?
Believe it or not, anoraks made from wool aren’t the worst choice in summer. This is because they are naturally thermoregulating which means they keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Wool is also UV resistant and breathable so you are protected from the sun and don’t get too sweaty.
If you are hiking or just working in the sun then a wool anorak will probably get too hot and probably wouldn’t be my first choice, to be honest. But if you are doing an activity that requires some upper body protection (like walking through thick brush) then a wool anorak can work very well.
Why Are Wool Anoraks Used by Bushcrafters?
Bushcrafters and other people who spend lots of time outdoors love clothing made from wool because of the number of natural benefits it offers. As a mid-layer, wool is one of the best insulators in the world and as an outer layer, it is durable and reliable in any weather. It is also naturally antibacterial (no odors), water-resistant, wind-resistant, UV resistant, and incredibly durable.
The anorak style in particular is popular with bushcrafters perhaps for its looks or perhaps for its utility. Having a kangaroo pouch front pocket is particularly useful for keeping small hand tools, warming your hands, and keeping other things that are too big for regular pockets. The only benefit of having a quarter-length opening as opposed to a full-length zip, as far as we can tell, is that it will lose less heat.
Another reason that bushcrafters and hunters specifically like wool anoraks are because they are silent in comparison to other fabrics. Wool doesn’t rustle as your arms touch against your torso or make scratchy noises as you push through bushes. So by wearing a wool anorak you reduce the chances of spooking animals as you move through a forest. Wool may also help to mask your human scent but that is up for debate.
Guide To Wool Anoraks
Here is our guide on what to look for when buying a wool anorak for bushcraft:
Size Guide To Wool Anoraks
While most wool anoraks will have a size guide to help you choose your size, some manufacturers prefer to make them custom from scratch using personal measurements. The best thing to do is take lots of body measurements like your neck, shoulders, chest, hips, arm length, and height – then contact the manufacturer.
Most of the recommendations we give will have a size guide on their website to ensure you get a good fit the first time. If you want a closer fit then order a size below normal otherwise just order as you would any jacket: small, medium, or large, etc.
Type of Wool
There are estimated to be more than 10,000 varieties of sheep around the world, more than any other type of livestock. While it would be hard to tell the wool from those sheep from one another, they can have different ratios of certain qualities.
Merino wool for example comes from New Zealand and Australian sheep who may experience extreme heat during the day and extreme cold at night. This makes it an excellent thermoregulating layer and is the reason it is used in most base layers. Some wool will be softer like cashmere and others will be notoriously tough and weatherproof.
Some wool anoraks will have been blended with synthetic fibers to create a softer fabric to the touch. This isn’t totally necessary in our opinion and if the wool has been crafted properly it shouldn’t be too itchy. Ideally, you want as close to 100% wool as possible but if you must then look for a blend of around 90% wool to 10% synthetic fibers.
Weight and Thickness
Wool is often measured in ounces per yard or by grams per square meter and so you will often see something like “20-ounce fabric” in the specifications or on the label. Some wool anoraks use lighter wool that may be anywhere between 12 – 18 ounces while most will use heavier wool that is around 19 – 26 ounces per yard.
Unfortunately, it is near impossible to imagine how thick this will be in real life if you have no experience. So, the only way to find out what wool thickness or weight is right for you is to actually feel it with your own hands and try it on.
Lining and Shell Fabric
Wool anoraks typically don’t feature any kind of lining or shell material however they would certainly be a nice touch to most. One or two of the wool bushcraft jackets we recommended above do have a lining and use some shell fabric for extra protection and it works very well.
Linings would eliminate any kind of itchiness that wool anoraks have against the skin but they may also interfere with wool’s moisture-wicking abilities and breathability. Shell fabrics can help improve waterproofing, windproofing, and durability of wool anoraks but they may also reduce breathability and create noise as you try to stay stealth while hunting.
Hoods and Pockets
Hood and pockets on a wool anorak are crucial to keeping your head and hands warm on cold days. A hood can help protect you from the cold, wind, rain, sun, and even bugs. Pockets are also essential for keeping small items close to hand like a knife, fire steel, or dry tinder.
Many bushcrafters prefer button closures as opposed to zips as they are easier to repair and there is less to go wrong. To go even further, slot buttons are better than stitched buttons and you will rarely ever lose one. For an example of this check out the Weather Wool Anorak above.
One of the main reasons bushcrafters and people who work outdoors choose wool anoraks is because they are just so darn durable. Unlike synthetic fiber anoraks and jackets, wool anoraks are resistant to flames and so if you are sitting around a campfire every night, you won’t end up with a load of small holes from the embers and sparks.
Wool is naturally durable and can resist rain, wind, snow, sun, odor, and abrasions. Think about it, sheep have to live with a thick coat of wool all year round and often in extreme conditions. By processing raw sheep’s wool and forming it into a piece of fabric, you not only retain all of the wool’s natural properties but can actually enhance them.
For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be all that many ‘universal fit’ anoraks made from wool and most require you to provide measurements to ensure a customized fit. This is good in that you can get something that has been tailor-made for your body and will fit perfectly. The downside to this is that you can’t really expect next-day delivery and wait times can be weeks if not months.
Wool anoraks are still a relatively niche type of jacket with only a handful of specialists but they will never go out of style for those that use them. We hope you found this guide to the best wool anorak helpful and feel free to get in touch with other recommendations as there aren’t that many out there.