The Difference Between Wool and Fleece Which is the superior option? Update 06/2022

Wool and fleece are two textiles that are frequently used in the winter. However, if you’re going on a cold-weather expedition, you might be asking if the difference between wool and fleece is significant. What’s the difference between the two, after all? Is one of them superior to the other? That’s why I put together this wool and fleece fabric guide.
The main distinction between wool and fleece is that wool is a natural fabric, whereas fleece is a man-made fabric. However, there are minor distinctions between the two in terms of warmth, weight, softness, and cost, to name a few. The discrepancies come down to how the fabric is manufactured in the end.
The main goal of both fleece and wool is to keep you warm in cold conditions. However, the distinctions between the two may impact your judgment of which is the superior option. We’ll look at the distinctions between the two, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. You’ll be able to determine whether wool or fleece is the better option for you.

Wool vs. Fleece

Wool vs. Fleece: Key Points

WoolFleece
BreathabilityVery breathableBreathable unless coated with chemicals (e.g. flame retardant)
DurabilityLess durable than fleeceVery durable
WarmthWarmer than fleece, unless wetWarm, but not as warm as wool
WeightHeavier fabricLightweight fabric
SoftnessSoft, but can feel scratchySofter than wool, sometimes similar to cotton
Moisture WickingRepels water but can take longer to dry if it gets soakedHas low absorbency, dries quicker if it gets soaked
Ease of CareRequires special care- hand washing preferredLow maintenance
CostCan be priceyLess expensive
UsesOuterwear, blankets, scarvesOuterwear, blankets, scarves

What is Wool?

Fleece vs wool

Wool is a natural fiber that has been used to make textiles for thousands of years. Many people believe that wool solely originates from sheep, however it can come from a variety of animals. Goats, alpacas, llamas, and even musk oxen are examples of these animals.
Because there are approximately 1 billion sheep on the planet, sheep’s wool is the most prevalent type of wool used in textiles. However, because there are numerous breeds of sheep, there are different variations of sheep’s wool, some of which are more expensive than others.
Cashmere, which originates from a cashmere goat, and qiviut wool, which comes from a musk ox, are two more varieties of wool. These are, nevertheless, both uncommon varieties of wool.
Another form of wool that originates from llamas and alpacas is called fleece because it has a different texture than other types of wool. This is where some people get confused because fleece is a natural fabric in this scenario. Llamas’ and alpacas’ fleece, on the other hand, is still considered wool.
The fur of wool-producing animals must be shorn once a year to make wool fabric. Shearing the animals is vital for their health and to keep them cool in the heat. The fur can grow matted and knotted if it isn’t sheared, and it can harbor bacteria that can make the animals sick.
Because the wool had to be shorn anyway, early civilizations devised a method of utilizing it: making a fabric for clothing and other textiles. Separating the fibers, classifying and washing them, and then spinning them into a yarn are the steps involved in creating wool fabric today. The yarns are then woven together to make fabric.
Because wool can come from a variety of animals, the texture and characteristics of wool garments might vary slightly depending on the animal from which it was derived. Wool, on the other hand, is generally exceedingly warm, durable, and often pricey.

What is Fleece?

What is fleece fabric

The wool of alpacas and llamas is referred to as fleece, as I previously stated. In the textile industry, however, fleece is more typically used to refer to a synthetic fabric. Synthetic fabric is created in a machine and is not a natural fiber derived from animals or plants like wool or cotton.
Fleece isn’t real wool, but it was created to look like it. It’s a supple fabric with a variety of textures depending on how it’s manufactured. Fleece is usually made of polyester, but it can also contain additional fibers to give it a unique feel.
Polyester is first created before fleece fabric is created. Polyester is a synthetic polymer manufactured from petroleum and other chemicals. Polyester is spun into yarn after it has been manufactured. To make the cloth, the yarn is woven together in a certain pattern. Different weaves can result in various sorts of fleece fabrics.
Sherpa, for example, is a type of fleece fabric. Sherpa fleece is made entirely of polyester and has a fluffy texture. It is frequently used as a liner for jackets and knit caps. Polar fleece, on the other hand, is a thicker variety that is commonly used to make blankets.
While most fleece fabrics are made entirely of polyester, some are comprised of a combination of polyester and cotton. Fleece like this is typically used as an inner lining for blouses and pants. Polyester fleece can be mixed with spandex to make it more stretchable. Fleece of this sort is commonly used for cold-weather sportswear.
As you can see, fleece’s synthetic nature allows it to be very versatile. There are numerous sorts of fleece, but they are all made to be extremely durable and warm.

What’s the Difference Between Wool and Fleece?

Breathability

Icebreaker Merino Women's Standard 175 Everyday Long Sleeve Thermal Cold Weather Half Zip Base Layer Top, Black, Medium

To remain comfortable, textiles designed to keep you warm should have some element of breathability. Wool and fleece are both extremely breathable.
However, keep in mind that wool is a natural fiber, so it breathes a little better than fleece. Because wool was designed to be an animal’s coat, it requires excellent air circulation between the strands.
Because there are several varieties of fleece cloth knitted in various ways, some are more breathable than others. Sherpa fleece, for example, can feel stuffy depending on how it’s used for apparel.
Chemicals such as flame retardant or waterproof coatings can be applied to fleece. Because air cannot easily access the fibers, its breathability is reduced. Wool has a minor advantage over cotton when it comes to breathability.

Durability

Fleece is more durable than wool because it is constructed of synthetic components. One of the advantages of synthetic fabrics is that they are designed to be long-lasting and durable. The fibers are extremely robust and do not easily break. They usually don’t require a lot of extra attention to stay in good form.
Wool, on the other hand, is long-lasting if properly cared for. It is an extremely robust fabric that outlasts natural materials such as cotton and silk. Wool fibers are incredibly flexible and hard to break, but if not properly cared for, they might lose some of their properties with time.
In terms of durability, fleece has a tiny advantage over wool because it is synthetic. Fleece is a better option if you’re seeking for winter apparel that will get a lot of use.

Warmth

Women Hooded Cardigan Fuzzy Jacket Winter Open Front Fleece Coat Outwear with Pockets Grey S

Wool was designed to keep animals warm in the first place, thus it has natural insulation capabilities. Wool is slightly warmer than fleece as a result of this. Wool is commonly used in the construction of heavy winter jackets because it keeps you warm, especially in colder locations.
Wool’s disadvantage in terms of warmth is that it is only warm when it is dry. If the fabric becomes wet due to rain, snow, or other environmental factors, it will take longer to dry than fleece. In chilly temperatures, being wet will not keep you warm.
Fleece is warm, but it doesn’t have the same natural warmth as wool. Fleece, on the other hand, has the advantage of drying more faster than wool if it gets wet. This is owing to the fact that it is synthetic and has a low water absorption rate. This means that if you get wet, fleece will keep you warmer than wool.
Both of these textiles offer their own set of benefits. However, before venturing out on a chilly day, think about what you’ll be doing as well as the weather. If the weather is chilly and damp, and you want to spend time outside, fleece may be a better choice. Wool, on the other hand, will keep you warmer than fleece if the weather is chilly but dry.

Weight

Wool is heavier than fleece in terms of weight. Another reason it keeps you warm is because of this. Heavier textiles are better at trapping warm air. It will, however, be even heavier when wet if it is heavy when dry. That’s not ideal, given that we’ve recently discovered that wool takes longer to dry.
Due to its synthetic nature, fleece is a light-weight fabric. The fluffy structure of fleece provides the majority of the warmth, not the weight. When it comes to warmth, fleece has a little disadvantage due to its light weight.
Heavy textiles, on the other hand, are disliked by some people because they make them feel uneasy. If you’re one of those people, the lightweight nature of fleece may appeal to you more than the heaviness of wool.

Softness

Woollen fleece

Depending on the material, fleece can have a variety of textures. Fleece, on the other hand, has a softer texture than wool. Fleece can have a comparable feel to cotton in some cases. This is why fleece works so well as a clothing lining. It is normally not irritating and feels gentle against your skin.
Wool might feel dense and irritating at times, especially over time. Part of this is due to the fibers’ intrinsic texture, which cannot be altered. The weight of wool contributes to the texture’s denseness.
Most types of wool also include lanolin, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. Even while wool seems comfortable, it might cause itching and pain if you are allergic to it.
However, because wool can come from a variety of animals, certain types are softer than others. Cashmere, for example, is one of the softest wools and will not feel as dense or irritating.
Alpaca is also a highly soft wool fabric that does not contain lanolin, making it suitable for persons with wool allergies. It’s crucial to remember, though, that softer, higher-quality wool can be more expensive.

Moisture Wicking

Both fleece and wool are excellent moisture repellents. Natural fibers derived from animals, such as wool, have a high water repellency to keep the animals dry. Wool should perform a good job of wicking moisture away as long as it isn’t soaked.
Fleece is also moisture-wicking due to its low moisture absorption. Even when used as a lining for clothing, the inner fleece layer will stay relatively dry if the exterior fabric gets wet. Even if the fleece becomes drenched, keep in mind that it will dry rapidly.
You can’t go wrong with either fabric when it comes to moisture wicking. When picking what to dress, bear in mind your activities as well as the weather circumstances.

Ease of Care

Fleece is a low-maintenance fabric that doesn’t require any extra care or detergents. It’s simple to care for and can be washed in the same machine as your other clothes. Using high heat with fleece is the only thing to avoid. When synthetic fibers are exposed to extreme heat, they can be harmed. The fibers may even melt, causing the fabric’s texture to be ruined.
Hand-washing wool cloth is the finest way to care for it. When it comes to wool, there are a few things to keep in When washing by hand, use lukewarm water and a light detergent, preferably one made specifically for wool. Avoid wringing the fabric to remove the water. You should gently squeeze it out instead.
If you’re drying wool, make sure it’s on a flat surface. It should not be hung to dry since it will lose its shape. Wool should never be put in the dryer since it shrinks quickly. Another precaution to take with wool is to avoid using bleach, which is too harsh for the fibers. Knit wool materials, such as sweaters, should be folded rather than hung so that they do not spread out.

Cost

The cost of wool is higher than the cost of fleece. This is due to the fact that wool-producing animals can only be shorn once a year. This means that the quantity of wool is limited and it is more difficult to make, resulting in a higher price. Rarer varieties of wool, such as qiviut, cashmere, and alpaca, will cost more and are among the world’s most expensive materials.
Fleece, on the other hand, is less expensive because to its synthetic nature. Because it is man-made, it is also easy to make. A series of chemical processes are all that is required to create fleece. The cheaper cost is due to all of these considerations.

Uses

Wool and fleece have a lot in common. They’re both designed to be worn as outerwear in chilly weather. Blankets, scarves, coats, and socks are just a few examples of what they’re used for.
Sweaters are made of wool, and fleece can be worn alone or as a lining under other textiles, such as denim jackets. The main distinction between fleece and wool is that fleece is more commonly used for athletic apparel, whilst wool is more commonly used for casual or business attire such as suits and pants.

Pros and Cons of Wool

Woolen fleece jacket

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, so let’s take a quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of wool. Wool has a number of advantages, including the following:

  • A natural fiber
  • Warm
  • Breathable
  • Moisture-wicking
Wool is a natural material that is also environmentally friendly. For those who choose eco-friendly fabric options, being sustainable is critical.
Wool does have drawbacks, which is why some people avoid it. The following are some of the disadvantages:
  • Wool requires more care.
  • Some people can be allergic to lanolin.
  • It is more expensive than other fabrics.

Wool also has another feature that hasn’t been discussed yet: it isn’t vegan. Even if no animals are injured in the collecting of wool, it is still derived from them. As a result, some people prefer synthetic or plant-based materials to wool.

Pros and Cons of Fleece

Fleece blanket

Fleece has both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at a few of them right now. When compared to wool, fleece has the following advantages:

  • Cheaper
  • Dries faster
  • Easier to care for
  • Lightweight
Fleece also has the added benefit of being vegan, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a warm fabric that does not come from animals.
Some people prefer wool to fleece because of the disadvantages of fleece. One of the disadvantages of fleece is that it is:
  • Synthetic
  • Not as warm as wool
  • Not as breathable as wool

Because fleece is synthetic, some individuals are hesitant to buy it because it is not an environmentally friendly fabric. Some forms of fleece, on the other hand, are manufactured from recycled materials.

Wool Blanket

Arcturus Military Wool Blanket - 4.5 lbs, Warm, Thick, Washable, Large 64' x 88' - Great for Camping, Outdoors, Survival & Emergency Kits (Military Gray)

This wool blanket is ideal for camping or participating in outdoor winter sports. It’s inexpensive and comes in three different hues.
It’s made up of 80% wool and 20% synthetic fibers, but the synthetic fibers keep the blanket from shedding and make it hypoallergenic. Although hand cleaning is recommended, this blanket can be washed in the washing machine on its own using a wool detergent and the gentle cycle.

Fleece Blanket

GREEN ORANGE Fleece Throw Blanket for Couch – 50x60, Lightweight, Black and White – Soft, Plush, Fluffy, Warm, Cozy – Perfect for Bed, Sofa

This plush fleece blanket is ideal for lazing at home. It’s available in 14 various colors and five different sizes, so you’ll be able to pick one that works for you.
This blanket, while not made of wool, is virtually as warm as wool and is machine washable, making it simple to care for. It’s also fantastic for pets!

Which Is The Better Choice?

When it gets cold, both wool and fleece are excellent fabrics to wear. However, determining which is the superior option can be difficult. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in a cloth and what kind of activity you’re doing.
If you prefer natural fibers to synthetics, wool can be a better option. Wool is more environmentally friendly than fleece if you’re attempting to be more environmentally conscious. Producing it is less harmful to the environment because it is manufactured without chemicals. Wool is also highly warm, robust, and effective at keeping you dry.
Wool is more commonly used for “nicer” and more elegant winter clothes, making it an excellent choice for going shopping or performing more leisurely activities outdoors. After all, because it’s more expensive and requires more upkeep in terms of care, you might not want to wear it every day or when undertaking strenuous activities like working outside or exercising.
There are a few more reasons why you may not believe wool is the best option. Because it is derived from animals, vegans may prefer to wear fleece. Furthermore, some people are allergic to wool, therefore they can’t wear it and must instead wear fleece.
Fleece is an excellent choice if being a synthetic fabric isn’t a huge worry for you and you want a cheaper alternative to wool with similar attributes. Fleece is also more practical for everyday wear because it is easier to maintain. If you spend a lot of time outside in the cold hiking, jogging, or working, fleece is likely to be the best option.
To summarize, if you’re looking for new winter clothes for a specific reason, consider the attributes of fleece and wool before making a decision. You can’t go wrong with either of these options. In the end, everything comes down to your particular preferences in terms of textiles and why you’re wearing them.

Conclusion

I hope this guide on determining the difference between wool and fleece was helpful. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so choosing between the two is just a matter of personal preference. Both fabrics, on the other hand, will keep you warm and dry and will last a long time if properly cared for. Don’t forget to share and comment on this article. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

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