When it’s cold out, there’s nothing better than curling up in front of your TV, wrapped in a warm blanket. Not all blankets are created equal, though. Some can be too thin. I’ve heard that a Sherpa blanket is one of the warmest available. But what is a Sherpa Blanket?
A Sherpa blanket is a blanket made from Sherpa fabric. Sherpa fabric is 100% synthetic material designed to look and feel like wool from a sheep. It is often known as faux sheepskin. Named after the Sherpa people in Nepal, the fabric is warmer than other fleece fabrics. Making it great at keeping out the cold.
This article will cover all aspects of the material. From its pros and cons to what you can use it for. Read on to find out more about Sherpa fabric.
What Is Sherpa?
Sherpa is a synthetic fleece fabric designed to imitate sheep’s wool. Made from polyester or acrylic fibers, the fabric has two sides. One side is a fleecy textured side and the other is a smooth knit. The smooth side is reminiscent of suede.
This similarity to both a wool fleece and soft leather gives Sherpa fabric a look and feel of sheepskin. Known to many as a faux sheepskin, the fabric has also been described as faux shearling.
A shearling is a young lamb that has only had its fleece removed once. Lamb’s wool is renowned for its super soft feel and warming properties. Sherpa mimics both and is a great alternative to the more expensive animal-based options.The fact it is so closely linked to both sheepskin and shearling is a testament to the softness and warmth of this synthetic material. Traditional sheepskin coats, thought to be too pricey or damaging to animal welfare, are making a comeback thanks to this artificial fabric.
One of the coldest places on earth is the mountainous region of the Himalayas. The Sherpa people of Nepal call this brutally chilly environment home. Due to the altitude at which they live, they need warm clothing. There are few fabrics available as warm as sheepskin.
Famous for leading explorers up the steep, inhospitable slopes of Mount Everest, Sherpas would wear their traditional clothing, lined with sheep and lamb’s wool. To the visiting mountaineers wrapped up in layers of modern fabrics, the Sherpas appeared oblivious to the extreme cold.
Sheep’s wool and sheepskin, in general, can be difficult to look after. Wool tends to shrink or become scratchy over time. It can also be a little heavy to wear.
With wool being uncomfortable and inconvenient for extreme sports like mountaineering, the search was on for new material. One that could give the warmth, softness, and comfort of Sherpa clothing and yet have the practicality of a modern-day fabric.
Sherpa fleece was developed in the 1980s by an American company called Malden Mills, now known as Polartec. In a nod of acknowledgment to the Sherpa people of Nepal, the fabric was named after the mountain guides who inspired its invention.
What Is Sherpa Fleece Used For?This type of fleece fabric is soft, warm, fluffy, and lightweight. These properties make it a practical choice for a wide range of cold-weather items. It can’t be used on its own, though. Sherpa fleece works best when it is used as a lining.
As with most artificial fibers, the wind will blow straight through unless it has backing from another fabric. An outer layer of a thicker weave fabric like denim or flannel will stop the wind in its tracks. Preventing it from sucking out the precious warm air trapped inside your clothing.
In fact, Sherpa fleece behaves in a similar way to the traditional wool lining of a sheepskin coat. When coupled with suede, it creates an insulated barrier against wind-chill and single-digit temperatures.
The fabric isn’t limited to coats. Sherpa fleece can be used to make blankets. Super soft and snuggly, a Sherpa blanket is lightweight, so it is the perfect choice for snuggling under on those freezing winter nights. Not only that, Sherpa fabric has wicking properties similar to cotton fabric, making it a safe alternative for baby blankets.
You can even use it to keep your furry best friend cozy. Sherpa fleece can be used to line pet beds, coats, and blankets.
What Is a Sherpa Blanket?A Sherpa blanket is a blanket made from Sherpa fleece. Lighter than other types of fleece and easier to maintain than wool, a Sherpa blanket is a modern-day alternative to traditional warm fabrics.
Made from synthetic fibers, a Sherpa blanket will have a textured side and a smooth, soft leather effect on the other. It’s a lot like a wooly top with a suede bottom. So much so that its appearance mimics the look of sheepskin.
Blankets made from Sherpa fleece are cozy and warm, with one added benefit not found in many other blankets. They are incredibly lightweight.
A Sherpa blanket lacks the heaviness of wool and yet is thicker than other fleece blankets. Having both these amazing qualities make Sherpa blankets hard to beat for warmth, comfort, and practicality.
What Are the Benefits of Sherpa Blankets?
Since it was first introduced back in the 1980s, Sherpa fleece has become the go-to fabric for cold weather apparel. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and see why it is a wardrobe staple for chilly environments.
When it comes to animal welfare, one of the main benefits of Sherpa fleece is its reliance on synthetic fibers. Although Sherpa fleece can contain cotton, it doesn’t contain any animal-based products.
No animals are intentionally harmed as a result of making a Sherpa blanket. There is no wool or fur content within a Sherpa fleece. It does not contain animal skin in any form. This means Sherpa blankets are less likely to cause an animal-related allergy and are safer to use for those sensitive to animal products like wool.
The production of Sherpa fleece is a chemical process involving petroleum. That, in itself, could make Sherpa fleece unsustainable from an ecological point of view. But, the benefits to animal welfare go some way to balance out that downside, making Sherpa blankets a great animal-friendly choice.
Sherpa blankets are easy to care for and maintain. Not only does the fabric dry quickly, but it is also simple to wash too! The fleece doesn’t need any special treatment and is fully machine washable.
Using a cold wash will keep Sherpa blankets looking their best. Allowing to air dry ensures a long-lasting fluffiness. With no need to use a dryer or an iron, Sherpa blankets will help reduce your electric bill.
Better still, Sherpa blankets can be sponge-cleaned. Simply wipe light stains away and allow them to dry. As you can see, caring for Sherpa blankets is quick, easy, and manageable.
A Sherpa blanket is double-sided. With one side textured and fluffy and the other being flat and smooth, the air is trapped close to your body. Keeping you lovely and warm.
It’s the heat insulation properties of this two-sided fabric that make it a winner for those long, chilly winter evenings. In fact, Sherpa is believed to be the warmest of all the fleece fabrics available on the market.
WeightOne of the great things about a Sherpa blanket is the lack of weight to it. Sherpa fleece is incredibly lightweight, which means the blankets made from it are light enough for even a baby to use.
The reason it is so lightweight is down to its manufacture. Being 100% synthetic means the artificial fibers it contains are as light as a feather. Compare that to the fibers found in a wool blanket and you begin to see where the weight difference lies.
Wool can be very heavy, especially if the atmosphere is a little damp. It can suck up moisture quickly, which adds to the weight. Sherpa blankets, being manmade, are less likely to absorb water, so they don’t have the same tendency to gain weight in wet conditions.
A Sherpa blanket has one of the main characteristics of natural fibers, which is strange for a synthetic fabric. That property is the ability to wick away moisture. It’s an ability known as breathability.
Sherpa fabric can take sweat away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable. This is great news if you are snuggled under your Sherpa blanket but starting to feel a little too toasty.
It’s also a good safety feature for baby blankets. As babies can’t regulate their own body temperature, their clothing needs to do it for them. Polyester-based fabric is usually a no-go for babies as it cannot ‘breathe’. Although Sherpa is a type of polyester, its blend and knit structure give it breathability.
Sherpa fabric is relatively cheap compared to other fabrics, especially natural fiber materials. This means the blankets made from Sherpa can also be cheaper.
If you compare a Sherpa blanket against the same item made from wool, the cost savings can be substantial. Wool is known for being pricey. The thing is, Sherpa fleece is not only cheaper, but it has similar properties to wool. Making it a great budget-friendly alternative.
How to Care for a Sherpa Blanket
Sherpa blankets can be washed by hand in cold water. However, due to the size of the blanket, you may find it easier to use a washing machine.
Set your machine on a cold setting and use a gentle wash with a light spin if possible. Too much rough handling can cause the Sherpa fleece to pill or shed. A good way to reduce the chances of pilling or shedding is to put the blanket in a laundry bag before you add it to the washing machine.
Because of the risk of pilling, it’s always advisable to wash your Sherpa blanket on its own. Let’s take a look at some other common causes of damage to Sherpa blankets and how to avoid them.
|Damage||How to Avoid|
|Stretched fibers following a hot wash or dry||Always wash your blanket in a cold setting using a gentle cycle. Air dry.|
|A blanket covered with slime||Don’t use fabric softeners or bleach when washing|
|A blanket covered with lint||Always wash your Sherpa blanket on its own to prevent it attracting lint from other garments|
|Blanket is pilling||Always air dry Sherpa blankets|
What Are the Best Sherpa Blankets?
With so many options available, it can be hard to choose the best Sherpa blanket. Firstly, you have to consider the size of your blanket. Do you want it to cover you completely, or just your lap? Another thing to think about, the thickness of your blanket. How warm do you want to be?
To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of our recommendations. Here is our selection of the best Sherpa blankets.
How Many Types of Fleece Are There?
When it comes to fleece, there are a number of different options. We’ve already looked at Sherpa fleece, so here’s a brief overview of other fleece fabrics you may come across.
Similar to Sherpa, Polar fleece is slightly heavier and a little bit thicker. Its warmth properties are close to if not the same as Sherpa.
This fleece repels water and has a polyester sheen to the surface. Smooth on the outside with a plush surface on the inside, this one is great for rainwear.
Cotton or Polycotton Fleece
Fleece containing cotton fiber makes great athletic wear. It has a similar look to polyester fleece, only without the polyester shine.
While most fleece stretches due to being a knit fabric, this type has Lycra or Spandex added to it. Super stretchy, this material will give you plenty of flexibility when you need it.
Another fleece similar to Sherpa, microfleece, is also double-sided. Great for insulation, this is slightly lighter than Sherpa. It’s sometimes used with Sherpa to create blankets.
French Terry Fleece
There’s no fluff with a French Terry Fleece. This is fleece in its unbrushed state and is flatter with less of an obvious nap to it. It’s also not as warm as Sherpa fleece.
The purpose of this fleece is texture. Created from two different yarns, this one has a unique look and feel. It’s used for decorative effects in some garments. Again, this one isn’t as warm as Sherpa.
Sherpa blankets are a great, cost-effective alternative to heavy woolen blankets. They are soft, comfortable, and long-lasting. Investing in a Sherpa blanket will give you worry-free winter warmth for years to come.
Let me know in the comments if you liked the article. Has it helped you decide if a Sherpa blanket is for you? Do you already own one? Want do you think of it?