We have a film series called Unrivaled. We find interesting people with cool stories to tell and we help them captivate audiences by chronicling their stories into crisp, 1-minute-ish videos. Two years ago we were able to tell the story of Julie Hansmire, a rancher who, faced with a series of challenges, decided to continue on in her way of life; turning sun, rain, and grass into fine American Merino wool. After that, we found more people with fresh and inspiring perspectives from when their life met an intersection with American wool; from Santa’s actual tailor to sheep shearers. And then the pandemic hit.
So badly, we wanted to continue to tell the stories of American wool, but couldn’t take the risk of sending a 4-man production crew into a string of airports, a dozen or so flights, a few rental cars, and who knows how many nights in different hotels. So we did the next best thing. Created our very own, American Wool bubble. With a rented RV, a handful of wool masks from Bailey, and, with the support of some very generous brands (Thank you: Bailey, Duckworth, Faribault Mill, Farm to Feet, Holy Lamb Organics, and Pendleton!), we were able to outfit the film crew with items made with American wool to keep them looking stylish, feeling comfortable, and ready to tackle each new experience during the American Wool Road Tour.
Here at the American Wool Council, we pride ourselves on being experts on all things wool. Need to know how to care for your wool? We’ve got you covered. Looking for more information about how to wear wool in the summer? Here you go. Hoping to learn more about how wool is produced? Learn all about it here! But our Unrivaled video production crew weren’t as wool-savvy as we are. They learned a lot about wool during the road tour, in their own words, “we are wool fans for life!”
Here are four tips from our crew on how wool helped them face each new day on this 21-night road tour.
1. Don’t Overpack
“When I showed up to the RV I had one giant suitcase. The director looked at the suitcase and then looked at me and then looked back and the suitcase and finally told me to cut what I thought I was bringing, in half.” The 32-foot RV needed to hold the crew, all of the video and photography equipment, post-production machines, food, and the personal belongings of each crew member. Clothes were going to have to pull double-duty. At first, the crew seemed confused, “how were the same clothes that were supposed to keep me cool in Mertzon, Texas going to keep me warm in Bella Fourche, South Dakota?” Wool has been called the world’s most versatile fiber for good reason. In the heat of the Texas sun, that Duckworth wool baselayer helped to wick away sweat as the crew was traversing ranches during 80º days. Because wool is able to absorb perspiration into the core of its fiber, it actually keeps a layer of dry air next to the skin, keeping the wearer dry in the harsh heat.
Belle Fourche, South Dakota — 23º
Mertzen, Texas — 89º
Wool’s famous versatility meant that the same Duckworth Vapor Hoody helped keep the crew toasty warm during an early-season winter blizzard in Sturgis, South Dakota. Wool socks from Farm to Feet easily transitioned from warm-weather gear to cold-weather gear; because wool fibers have natural kinks and bends, they trap the warm air your body produces to keep you warm for long periods of time. [Fun fact: wool is so well-regarded for its heat-trapping ability that it’s even used in homes, RVs, and buildings as sustainable insulation.] Having traveled for so many days with far less clothing than anticipated that same crew member remarked, “when your clothes are made of wool, it turns out you don’t need one giant suitcase full of clothes…a few versatile pieces will do the trick!”
2. See a Laundromat? Keep on Driving!
“Our general sentiment on doing laundry in general wasn’t great and pair that with universal COVID-19 protocols, time constraints, and a general lack of geographical knowledge throughout the road trip…finding and stopping at laundromats wasn’t high on the list.” Well, lucky for them, with an RV full of wool…it didn’t have to be. The guys wore wool socks from Farm to Feet; wool Board Shirts and Guide Shirts from Pendleton; and Powder Pants, Henley Shirts, and baselayers from Duckworth and after a few days in the San Angelo heat they were starting to wonder why it didn’t smell like they’d spent a few days in the San Angelo heat. Great news for everyone in the RV – wool is naturally odor resistant! “Trust us, with 4 guys in an RV over 21 days—you can imagine how much we appreciate the no-stink factor”. A wear-more, wash-less approach was quickly adopted with friendly competition following along, “I’ve worn these socks for 8 days and they still don’t smell”. Inevitably, when it is time to wash your wool, you’ll rest assured knowing that wool items hold onto significantly less odor after washing than synthetic alternatives. “The bottom line is that wool items keep you fresher, longer whether you’re on a road trip, mountaineering adventure, vacationing, or simply getting work done around the house.”
3. Don’t Compromise on Style
When brands like Bailey, Pendleton, and Duckworth outfitted the crew with items like the Calvary ii, Wind River, Truckton, and Renegade; The Canyon Shirt and Shirt Jacket; and the Powder Hoody, and Polaris Crew, the team expected function. What they didn’t know to expect, was style. With such a good-looking and fashionable crew, it was sometimes hard to decipher who was supposed to be on-camera and who was supposed to be behind the camera.
“We looked good. Like real good. Like better-than-I-ever-expected-to-look-while-living-out-of-an-RV-good.”
The western style hats from Bailey kept everyone behind the camera protected from the sun and elements while simultaneously elevating everyone’s style game. Pendleton’s world-famous prints kept the crew comfortable in every environment and without a doubt added an air of sophistication behind-the-scenes. “The best part wasn’t even how good I looked…it was that it all just felt right. I was happy and relaxed and I truly attribute it to the clothes I was wearing.” And of course, the versatility of these wool pieces meant what served as pure function during the day turned into something that looked sharp for a night out. At the close of the road trip a lightbulb came on for the crew, “sometimes you know you’re going to need your outfit to be functional, but don’t compromise — with wool you get both form and function.”
4. Don’t “Sleep” on Wool
“Setting up and tearing down video shoots requires a lot of manual labor. A lot. So I need sleep. Good sleep,” said a top bunker. Not surprisingly, good sleep in a rock-band-style RV can be hard to come by, “did you know that top bunks in an RV sway a lot more than the lower bunks, so it’s almost like sleeping in a hammock?” When the crew had the chance to sleep, they took it, “I was wrapping myself in wool and getting some shut eye anytime I wasn’t riding shotgun or working.”
Holy Lamb Organics wool bedding, blankets from Pendleton, and Faribault throws took the team’s sleep to the next level — studies have shown time and time again that sleeping with wool helps to increase the onset of sleep and actually helps you sleep deeper, for longer. These guys couldn’t have been happier for the opportunity to introduce wool into their sleep routines. “You do not want to be around me after a poor night’s sleep…I’m irritable, cranky, it’s awful.” Sleep is as important to human health as diet and exercise and making it a priority in the RV was easy once wool was included in the mix!
We’re proud to say that the stars aligned and we were able to add 6 more stories to the Unrivaled video series, even during the unprecedented year that 2020 brought. Visit our Vimeo page to watch and learn more about the people and places that help to bring you fine American wool.