Best Blanket
September 11, 2008 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Seeking first-hand accounts of experiences with warm blankets. Choices (as I see it) are wool, fleece, or flannel.

This year, we bought a midweight down duvet (~48 oz, queen sized), planning to pair it with a warm blanket in the cold New England winter months. Anyone have strong recommendations or warnings-off for fleece, flannel, or wool? (I’m guessing that cotton isn’t going to be warm enough. )

Additional relevant details: We keep our thermostat around 62 at night, and I run cold. In previous years, we used two duvets, stacked, within the duvet cover. We do have an old (likely 45+ years) Hudson Bay Point wool blanket, which I haven’t tried yet. We’ll switch to a lightweight duvet in spring and summer, so no blanket needed for those months.
posted by dreamphone to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wool ...ask the Navy.
posted by Freedomboy at 8:56 AM on September 11, 2008

We let the thermostat come down to 12C at night in the winter. We use: flannel sheets, down duvet, thin wool blanket and polar fleece blanket. Wool is warm and heavy (I like a mass of blankets on me) but hard to wash and itchy which is why we sandwich it between the other blankets. The down is sort of variable depending on distribution within the pockets but form fitting to reduce drafty sections. The polar fleece wears and washes well allowing us to get rid of cat hair.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 AM on September 11, 2008

I agree with Freedomboy that wool is the warmest (depending on the weight, of course) but be aware that some people really mind wool, find it bothers their lungs/allergies/skin, or just find it scratchy etc. I personally hate wool for exactly those reasons, so while it *is* warmer, I would always go for a nice dense heavy quilt (which I have a lot of seeing as how my mom makes them for us, LOL).
posted by gwenlister at 9:22 AM on September 11, 2008

Fleece is light, which is good if you like that, but it feels cheap to me, and gets sort of pilly/little pieces of lint cling to it.

I'm a big fan of wool blankets for warmth, weight, and classic look. Hudson's Bay blankets are about as good as it gets, IMO.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2008

My personal choice, under a quilted duvet, is Vellux- but I grew up with Vellux blankets. It might just be a familiarity and comfort thing for me, but I've slept under them from Georgia to New England, and haven;t frozen yet.
posted by pupdog at 9:25 AM on September 11, 2008

I've never liked combining a duvet with blankets because of the weight, and they come apart from each other in the middle of the night, so I solved this problem by buying a second, much warmer duvet. The lighter one gets used three seasons, and the heavy one comes out for the coldest months. I suppose in an emergency (no heat for days, say) I could use both duvets at once, but the warm one is plenty warm even in a cold bedroom.

I bought it on sale, and paid about what one might for a nice wool blanket not on sale. The downside is that it takes up more storage space than a couple of blankets would, even stuffed in the original sack.
posted by Forktine at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2008

No love for down comforters? It's the next best thing to sleeping in the oven.
posted by The Straightener at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2008

It's possible to buy washable wool blankets, and I recommend them strongly. Your first thought might be that dry-cleaning blankets is expensive. That's true... but the real problem is that it's so inconvenient that you just never get them cleaned. After a while, blankets get dusty, and worse. Washable wool is real wool that's been treated to it won't get matted when it's washed.

I own a Hudson's Bay blanket -- they're nice and warm, and they look great when new. But mine gradually got very pilly and ugly-looking in its first five years. Fifteen years later, I kind of wish I could get rid of it, but I think it'll last forever.

I also have two excellent cotton fleece blankets made by Area. They're smooth, substantial, very warm, and can be machine washed and dried.
posted by wryly at 9:49 AM on September 11, 2008

The Straightener: sorry, I thought a down comforter *was* a duvet, must have my terminology wrong. I actually purchased this, which ll bean calls a comforter. Very happy with the purchase, just looking for something to pair along with it for extra warmth.
posted by dreamphone at 9:53 AM on September 11, 2008

We like flannel next to the skin, though different blankets have had a different feel. Our distinction was vs satin, which was always too smooth and cool to the touch. When we lived rustic, we could always put more layers on top, and we held great respect for wool socks & sweaters. But we've stuck with flannel to sleep in for decades, now.
posted by dragonsi55 at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2008

My family has WWII-era wool army blankets and trapper blankets that we still use in Adirondack winters. A couple of those plus that comforter should get you through anything.
posted by hippugeek at 10:02 AM on September 11, 2008

The ultimate solution is to take a wool blanket and sandwich it between two layers of flannel. By sandwich, I mean, sew it together, like a quilt.

Also: fleece is only going to feel toasty warm if it is the closest layer to your body, and yes that means sleeping without pajamas.
posted by the_W at 10:29 AM on September 11, 2008

Wool is good, and there ARE soft versions of wool. I don't like flannel because once it gets wet (either from you sweating or while camping or something) it is what it is -- cotton, which absorbs and holds moisture. Polar fleece is artificial fibers, which make me sweat like hell.

My recommendation would be a wool blanket (Maybe Merino?) from Faribault Mills ... every generation of my family has bought blankets from them, going back to my great grandmother.

My setup for winter time is a high-count cotton sheet, then the merino wool blanket, then a down comforter in a cover.
posted by SpecialK at 10:53 AM on September 11, 2008

My grandmother was a bed-making nazi. She insisted on a logical ordering of bedclothes: ironed heavy cotton sheets topped with a light wool blanket and then a heavier wool blanket and then covered with a down comforter (a heavy cotton bedspread over that too, but that got removed at night). Her reasoning was that the cotton and wool were breathable, and peeling back layers allowed you to regulate heat during the night. If the wool is on top of the comforter, then it can't really perform its insulating function.

I grew up with an ancient Hudson Bay wool blanket that was unbelievably warm, but stiff and heavy. I've also had down comforters that were actually too warm all by themselves, even without extra blankets. My favorite combination is flannel sheets, a medium weight wool blanket paired with a medium weight down comforter. I've used fleece and vellux in the past, and I agree with the_W that it only works well if it is the layer closest to your body. Fleece also doesn't breathe as well as wool, so you can wake up feeling sweaty.
posted by amusebuche at 11:04 AM on September 11, 2008

I live in Ithaca NY and keep the thermostat low. I use cotton sheets, two army style wool blakets and a wool comforter. I got the comforter and one of the blankets from Sierra Trading Post.

Also, in the winter, go for bright patterns on those sheets, solids make just don't keep ya as warm.
posted by bdc34 at 12:43 PM on September 11, 2008

I have a down duvet from Ikea which is perfect, just the right amount of insulation. They have a few different weights though, I don't recall which mine was. But, in the summer, it's light enough to fling off while I'm 80% asleep if I'm too hot, or cocoon myself if cold (but I don't have a significant other so I don't need to worry about stealing the bedding ;). As for blankets, I prefer fleece, and pretty much every motel and hotel I've stayed in over the years has used the same, which should say something.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:22 PM on September 11, 2008

hungrysquirrels writes "As for blankets, I prefer fleece, and pretty much every motel and hotel I've stayed in over the years has used the same, which should say something."

They are cheap, resist stains (specifically bodily fluids) and hold up to washing.
posted by Mitheral at 1:53 PM on September 11, 2008

do you have pets? their hair will stick to flannel like glue.
posted by desjardins at 2:21 PM on September 11, 2008

Flannel sheets feel much warmer on cold nights. I use an electric blanket to pre-heat the bed, and it's a big help. The thermostat gets set back to 52 at night, and if I get cold while reading in bed, I use a shawl.
posted by theora55 at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2008

I also love the Hudson Bay wool blanket, my cold feet have never been happier. We put a sheet and a lightweight fleece on first, then the Wool. My special trick is to put the Hudson bay more towards the foot of the bed, and the fleece up high. Then I can fold the fleece over the scratchy wool, so I don't touch the wool with my arms at all. It's topped off by a comforter wrapped in a flannel duvet cover. Plus a cotton throw on my side of the bed, since I run colder than my husband. We live in a frigid part of NY, and keep the temp at 60 (or less) on winter nights.
posted by saffry at 6:40 PM on September 11, 2008

In winter I have cotton sheets, puffy feather doona with a thick heavy wool blanket over the top + two cats. If it's really cold - flannel sheets with a cotton blanket then my doona with extra wool blankets over the top + two cats. The feathers are snuggly but those heavy wool rugs are the shit!!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:56 AM on September 12, 2008

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