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Cooler Question (wool or fleece?!)

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  • Cooler Question (wool or fleece?!)

    Just moved up to northern Alberta (and I mean in the middle of no where northern Alberta, blink and you miss the town I'm in) and am wondering about a second big square cooler for my boy. We ride mostly outside right now and our current cooler (shedrow fitted fleece) is doing just fine, but I want a square cooler that goes from ears to tail for the cooler months.

    What I'm debating is, fleece or wool?! What material would be best for colder regions, best wicking properties, longevity, etc.

    Price point is a bit of an issue and I know the fleece is cheaper than wool, but if wool is the better choice, that is what I'll get.

    Does anyone use these types of coolers? Are they worth the extra cash? What type do you use?

    Essentially: Wool or fleece!
    All that is gold does not glitter;
    Not all those who wander are lost.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

  • #2
    I prefer cotton. But I use mine for wicking moisture OFF the horse, so they dry faster. Cotton works best for my horses. I have used bed sheets too in a pinch.

    Cotton is easy to care for also. Or at least for me.


    • #3
      Wool. I just think it is that much nicer. Holds up better, is warmer, and does the job better.

      I don't think of cotton as wicking at all....or at least not pulling it away from the body. When I wear cotton shirts in the winter while riding, the shirt gets soaked, then stays wet (and cold!) Against my skin for ages. Wool pulls moisture away and pulls it to the top of the garment. When I throw a wool rug or cooler on a sweaty horse, I will go back later and find that top of the blanket damp, away from the skin, but the horse warm and dry underneath. Same applies to when I wear wool socks!


      • #4
        Wool over cotton mesh works the very best.
        ... _. ._ .._. .._


        • #5
          Polypropylene/fleece, hands down. Available in many textures but fantastic for wicking. AND you just chuck it in the wash as many times as you want and it's good as new. Can't do that with wool.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
            Wool. I just think it is that much nicer. Holds up better, is warmer, and does the job better.

            I don't think of cotton as wicking at all....or at least not pulling it away from the body. When I wear cotton shirts in the winter while riding, the shirt gets soaked, then stays wet (and cold!) Against my skin for ages. Wool pulls moisture away and pulls it to the top of the garment. When I throw a wool rug or cooler on a sweaty horse, I will go back later and find that top of the blanket damp, away from the skin, but the horse warm and dry underneath. Same applies to when I wear wool socks!


            And ironically I say this as someone who owns at least 5 fleece coolers and at least 3 jersey coolers... But really, the good, thick wool ones are the best for warmth and for wicking.

            My GOOD quality (Rambo) fleece coolers are almost as good, plus have the added benefit of being able to go right in the wash with no worries.


            • #7
              I prefer wool. If the horse is really sweaty I will use a switch out a cotton knit sheet a few times and keep the square wool one on top, works great.


              • #8
                Wool! Especially for the cold winters up in Northern AB. I have a wool cooler, some fleece ones, and a cotton weaved one. When it's brutally cold out, only the wool one will do. It keeps my guy toasty and warm while allowing for a slow, gradual cool down. Once he's a little drier, I'll usually switch to a fleece one. He stays warm under the wet wool, but he won't under a wet fleece one. The wool absorbs most of the moisture without me worrying about him getting chilled and then the fleece one goes on to continue the cool down process once the majority of the sweat has been soaked up in the wool one.

                The only time I switch the process is if we're walking around and moving after a lesson. Then he gets his fleece cooler on while we keep moving. I found if I put the wool one on during the cool-down walk, he'd almost get sweatier and hotter. So, it'd be fleece cooler for the cool down, and then wool once he stopped moving.

                I rarely used the cotton one in the winter. Only if it was super cold out and I wanted something on him while I was grooming him pre-ride. Or if he got super sweaty (which I tried not to do when it was past -15), and I had to go wool to fleece and then to cotton before he'd cool out. I just don't find the cotton ones - even the thick ones - very beneficial once it gets past -15.


                • #9

                  While I don't have northern Alberta experience (praise be) in the Hunt field the coats are wool melton which, while they get heavy in the rain, we stay warm.

                  After I put a wool cooler on him in the trailer while we go for breakfast. They get nice and dry and warm, but on top of the cooler is the moisture, like hoar frost.

                  Fleece is washable, static and collects shavings. Wool is more particular re washing. So I got to the thrift stores and get wool bed blankets (Queen size) that can be cold washed, with a small amount of shrinkage and felting.

                  I think you are brave for even riding in that cold.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • #10
                    Wool and fleece stay warm when wet. Cotton absorbs water and when wet is COLD. Mountaineers avoid it.

                    Wool for warmth, but fleece is a great middle-ground as a backup. It's easy to wash and you don't need to dry it -- does not wick.
                    Last edited by Justa Bob; Oct. 23, 2011, 12:05 AM.


                    • #11

                      I have this cooler and I LOVE it. It's very thick and cozy.
                      "Many are riders; many are craftsmen; but few are artists on horseback."
                      ~George Morris


                      • #12
                        Fleece, for all the reasons cited by DW. If it's really cold, then I just use more than one (though in the winter I also try to design my ride and cool-down so that my horse is as dry as possible before I even get off, especially if it's bitterly cold).

                        Cotton doesn't wick. Period. It absorbs, but does not wick. And unlike wool, fleece, and other technical fabrics, it does not keep you (or horsey) warm once it is wet. I don't wear cotton (for outdoor pursuits) in the winter, and neither do my horses.
                        Proud member of the EDRF


                        • #13
                          I have both and don't notice any difference in wicking ability.
                          The only difference I have noticed is the wool cooler gets heavier when it's wet from drawing moisture off the horse.

                          My wool cooler is over 20 years old and still good as new. The fleece is 10+ and still in great shape too.

                          The fleece is hands down easier to care for, although I have machine-washed the wool - in cold water, gentle cycle, with Woolite and hang to dry.
                          I tried machine-drying with air only but after 2 hours I gave up and hung the still-damp cooler.
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14

                            I like this one, and the price isn't too bad.


                            • #15

                              I am in a cold climate and their power turnout can be put on a soaking wet horse and it wicks away the moisture!

                              I have bathed my horse in the dead of winter, put my turnout blanket on him and tossed him in the stall. No issues.

                              Great for our climates when cooling out and drying them takes longer than the ride.

                              It is an amazing product. NOT cheap, but it goes from a temp range of 59 degrees to 20 below, so I only had to buy one blanket instead of a bunch of them, and it is going strong into its fourth year. Worth the money for sure.

                              After seeing mine peform, more and more Bucas are finding their way into our barn!

                              $375 divided by 3 full years of use SO FAR and I didn't need to buy a rain sheet or a cooler or a mid weight blanket.

                              As always, you get what you pay for and buying the better and more expensive product is much cheaper in the long run.

                              Bucas has coolers that wick instantly too, but the turnout does it all so for a cold climate it is a better choice IMO


                              • #16
                                I am with fleece. One winter with a horse in training in NH, and he was sweaty after work.
                                Put a weatherbeeta fleece on him, and it blew my mind how it wicked the moisture and brought it to the outside of the cooler. I had read about wicking, but really saw it in action.
                                In that situation, I probably could have used another one..he was soaked.

                                I also have wool coolers, but think they would get too heavy as they wicked moisture, and I think they retain it in the fabric rather than bringing it to the outside like the fleece.

                                I have the centaur wool coolers and the wb's and they have good price points.
                                save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks for all the input everyone!

                                  I think I am leaning towards the wool, as I have a fleece cooler already, and if need be can slide that underneath the wool. I'm not planning on getting him soaking during the winter, I don't see that as safe or fair, but leisure hacks are hopefully going to occur.

                                  Does anyone have any good tips and tricks up their sleeve as to washing wool?

                                  Just for an idea of how cold it gets up here, I'm looking out my window and can see that it is snowing, and it snowed during the night as well. Ah winter, why are you here so early?!?!

                                  That Bucas sounds really interesting, has anyone else used it before?
                                  All that is gold does not glitter;
                                  Not all those who wander are lost.
                                  ~J.R.R. Tolkien


                                  • #18
                                    Two people at my old barn had the silver turnout one and it seemed to do a good job. They advertise it as being good from +15 to -15. I kept sticking my hand between the blanket and the horse that was in my with guy and wow, it did a great job. The horse was clipped and able to stay comfortable with one blanket on until it got too cold and he had to be double-blanketed. Pretty amazing. The turnout one is definitely on my wish list!

                                    Hmm, are you up by FM?


                                    • #19
                                      Another thing you can do his get a fleece rump rug. ( or just get a fleece throw blanket from your nearest store ) and use it while exercising. I did this for a few years with my guy unclipped and was amazed at how well it kept him from getting overly sweaty in the first place.

                                      As I started foxhunting him it wasn't practical to have him unclipped so didn't need the fleece as often.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I have a wool quarter sheet to use on him for hacks.
                                        I'm up by a very small town called Fort Vermilion, or for a bigger town, High Level.
                                        All that is gold does not glitter;
                                        Not all those who wander are lost.
                                        ~J.R.R. Tolkien