Note – We’ve been covering a number of tried and true items so far, but they’ve mostly been from bigger-name manufacturers. We’re now going to switch gears a bit, and over the next several posts, focus on lesser-known producers of excellent outdoor goods.
It’s hard to imagine something that reflects the “cottage industry” approach more than the products offered by the Asbells. All of their fantastic wool items are sewn by one woman, out of her home. Her name is Teresa Asbell, and she’s been producing high quality wool garments for over 30 years. Her husband is G. Fred Asbell, well-known in traditional archery circles as the author of several books on instinctive shooting and hunting. Together, the Asbells run a small online store, selling a handful of items that they have personally developed and use.
I have really come to love their hooded wool pullovers, and now own several. They are well-made, warm, and great for everything from hunting to hanging out. Handwarmer pockets and a roomy hood make this a layer one can truly “hunker down” in, if needed. Despite all the hi-tec fabrics available today, you still can’t beat wool for warmth, breathability and durability, coupled with performance when wet. And for hunting, there isn’t any fabric that is quieter and the retains less odor than good quality wool.
Variations include a sleeveless, hooded version for milder weather, a full-zippered option, and a heavier weight, two-piece “Mackinaw” that consists of the pullover, and a separate shoulder/hood combo. A variety of plaid patterns, and a few solids colors, are available. For the quality – both of the wool itself, and of Theresa’s workmanship, these items are very reasonably priced ($50-$80), and may be the best deal in a versatile outdoor wool garment that can be found anywhere.
The wool that is used in the Asbell pullovers all comes from sheep raised in the US, and all labor involved is domestic (as an aside, I would recommend avoiding garments made of “recycled wool” – the process strips the wool of much of its natural lanolin coating, resulting in a fabric that is far less water and wind resistant).
You can see the variety of Asbell pullovers, and the rest of their great products – including some very interesting, reasonably-priced knives, at this link.
(p.s. – we hope you like this shift in focus, and please – since many of these types of items tend to “fly under the radar,” feel free to give us a heads-up if you know of a product that you think would qualify.)