It is no secret the Southeast Alaska is WET! As a connoisseur of rain I will attest to the a least fifty different types that fall on the heads Juneauites and does not even account for the rain snow hybrids. Our weather does not care how the price you paid for your rain-shell is or how many promises the manufacturer has made. At some point that shell is either going to soak through or your sweat is going to condense on the inside of the shell and you will be wet. But wet is just the beginning, water conducts heat far more efficiently than air so now that you are wet that water starts to work its magic, efficiently transferring your precious heat to the outside world.
Let me set the scene:
You just got home with your brand new $500 dollar super rain stopper shell, its 36 degrees out and raining so hard that one needs a snorkel to breath. You’re not phased by a little drizzle, this thing has fifteen different tags proclaiming all the state of the art technology being use to keep you dry. You pull on your Patagonia Base layers, fleece mid-layer, and finally that fancy super rain stopper shell. With goretex running shoes laced up its time to head out the door. At mile one that super rain stopper shell is performing as promised, heck you’d be dry under the stream of a fire-hose. By mile two you’ve warmed up and begun to sweat, the beginning of the end. That sweat of yours condenses against the cold shell and begins to soak through you base layers. By mile five your thoroughly soaked and now body heat is being efficiently conducted from your core through the base-layers to the thin rain-shell and out to into the environment. By mile seven your cold and by mile ten hypothermia has set in.
To be fair the problems from rain shells are exasperated as the distance and duration of the run increase. During shorter runs or low intensity activities a high quality rain shell may work just fine, but for those long duration and high intensity activities that super rain stopper shell will not stop you from getting wet, setting you on the path to hypothermia. There is however a wonder fiber, wool, which will keep you warm in even the soggiest of conditions. The wool fiber is hollow, meaning it has air pockets that maintain its insulating qualities even when soaked through. The wool fibers structure causes an exothermic reaction when exposed to moisture this means that wool actually releases heat in the presence of moisture. These qualities make wool the perfect natural fiber for staying warm in our and for that mater any climate. In my own personal experience a good quality wool outer-layer has kept me warm in the worst conditions Southeast has to offer. I am not alone in this opinion, Icelanders exalt wool for it exceptional qualities, keeping them warm in the worst conditions Iceland has to offer.
I will admit that my obsession with all things wool borders upon fetishism, but lets get real wool is amazing and it comes from sheep a living organism this as opposed to the petroleum that our rain shells are made of. While increased demand for petroleum inspires us to take greater and greater risks to recover the precious nectar sheep are biological and require environments that support life to thrive the more sheep we need the more we rely on a healthy and sustainable environments. Some have taken to labeling this most recent epoch the Anthropocene hinting at the impact that human activities have on our global environments, making this connection in conjunction with the realization that we depend upon environments that support life means that we have the power to ensure that our planet remains a paradise for not only humans but life in general. Please let that ^ influence your next decision when it comes to purchasing your next article of clothing for running to put it simply buy wool!