Wool is the most basic of items anyone going out in winter should have with them. Wool not only keeps you warm, it also keeps you dry: wool absorbs sweat and can regulate body temperature so you neither cool down nor overheat too much. Staying dry is important during winter to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Wool has one additional advantage over other fabrics: it doesn’t take on odor easily, so it can be worn over long periods of time without starting to smell.
For us, the big difference in day- and nighttime temperatures meant that we should make sure we wouldn’t sweat a lot when the sun was out, but were warm enough when it went down. To tackle the 50ºC difference we could experience in a day we combined two Devold of Norway products: the very light and airy Breeze line with the medium-warm Island (M)/Ålnes (F) products. PJ and I had been using the Devold Expedition line during our time as mushers in Swedish Lapland and were familiar with the brand. We used the Breeze woolens when active, and layered up with Signature once our breath starting to freeze inside our tent.
Devold’s breeze line is specifically designed with longer usage in mind. Breeze garments are produced from the finest merino wool, which makes them resistant against smell. We both wore Breeze t-shirts and/or long sleeves during the day for walking. We only had the chance to hand wash our things every 2-3 weeks, and even with intense use over such a long period of time they never smelled all that bad (at least we think so).
The fine wool is really comfortable to wear, too: the wool is really soft and nice to have on your body, even for 24/7. In January we wore our long johns all day long for several days in a row and this never felt itchy or stuffy. This is again thanks to the fact that merino wool regulates body temperature: it breathes well when it’s warm but insulates when it’s cold. T-shirts and long johns have a loose cut, so they allow for a lot of movement and don’t feel to tight while in activity.
Breeze is constructed from thin wool and hence shows signs of wear and tear after four months in the Himalaya. A particular weak spot is underneath the hip belt, where all shirts have torn and have several holes close to each other.
We were both really pleased with what we used from breeze, and would use it again when heading back out into the mountains.
Island and Ålnes are part of the Signature line of Devold, made less for heavy-duty and more for leisure. Lighter than the Expedition or Duo Active shirts and pants, they are still highly insulating. We were more versatile with a layering system, and combining the Breeze and Signature woolens gave nearly the same result as using a heavy-duty expedition wool, but for less weight. On really cold days (for example when we crossed Sherpani and West Col at over 6000m) we used them for walking too. Most of the time we’d have to take them off quickly: this wool is really warm, and soon we’d be boiling underneath our other clothes.
The fit on them is tighter than on Breeze. This makes them really warm and snug at night but stuffy and somewhat more uncomfortable when moving for several hours. They are very durable: they came back from the trip completely unharmed, ready for another few seasons of use.
The only thing that is somewhat sensitive is the zipper on the Ålnes half-zip long sleeve shirt. It broke while the shirt was in my bag, and after I had to be very careful so that it would hold. Without a functioning zip it’s not a very warm shirt, since half of your chest remains exposed. Besides of that we’ve been really happy with these products too.
The Breeze and Signature products from Devold of Norway are very durable, comfortable and high-quality products that have really been essential to us during our time in Nepal. Thanks to the wool we could cool ourselves during hot days, but also stayed warm when temperatures reached -15ºC and below. We have been immensely happy with these products and we will definitely be using gear from Devold on our future trips.