For a long time now I've been looking for a good woolen bushcraft shirt. I wanted one hand made of local durable materials. Wool that had been minimally processed and a good fit.
After days of research on the net I finally found the Bison Bushcraft Forester Shirt, it had great reviews so I decided to order one. The price is £97.50 but I expect it to last, hopefully for generations.
As always when you order on the net it's a great surprise what you will get. These are hand made on order so delivery time was a few months, this is no problem for me. If I've survived without one my whole life I can wait a few months more.
Fit and designI'm quite thin and according to the sites' chest measurements an XS size would fit me (I'm normally M so I was a bit skeptical) but I ordered an XS anyway.Upon arrival I tried it on, the fit around the chest was perfect, the sleeves were a bit short and the collar too small. So I contacted them and sent it back, a few months later I got a size S. I didn't even need to pay the delivery cost of the new one, just the return since I live outside of UK.
The S fit nicely, both the sleeves and the collar. The chest is a bit big but not horribly. The design is obviously made for people with a bigger body. For reference I'm 175 cm (5'9) long.
The only thing I find worth mentioning are the end of the sleeves, where there is a button letting you close them or open them to pull them back. When opened they work very well and can be far pulled back. When closed they are quite bulky and annoying.
|The bulky sleeve|
The material is thick wool fabric from the UK. It come in 4 colors named after the seasons. Mine is Autumn color. The colors are nice natural ones and the fabric is woven in different colored threads unlike other wool shirts which are colored after the weaving. This gives an older more genuine feeling.
I'm a bit disappointed in the actual material. I expected it to be minimally processed wool. But it feels very dry to the touch without any smell. Pretty much all the lanolin is washed away, and with it many of the great properties of wool. For example, it starts smelling (sweat/dust) quite fast, much much faster than my wool sweaters which almost never starts smelling. Even when wearing a t-shirt underneath.
I haven't had the opportunity to try it in rain yet and I'm very curious how it will handle that. It feels less insulating than my wool sweaters, I'm not sure if it's because of the processing of the wool, the weaving or the little too big chest part.
I saw a forum post of someone washing it in the washing machine which made it shrink. This is in my opinion a good sign. Wool which does not shrink is usually treated with a thin plastic layer around each fiber. Effectively preventing most of it's good properties.
If you're sensitive to itching it may be too rough for you. I have no problem with that however, but it's not soft like merino.
|Close-up of the material.|
How I use itI enjoy the shirt and I use it almost everyday when the weather is chilly enough. It's tough and can handle fire and rough treatment. I've yet to try washing it but I'll do it by hand in cold water to avoid shrinkage. I wear it as second layer or as a semi-windproof, semi-waterproof third layer.
As far as I know this is the best alternative for a wool shirt out there.