At Merino Wool Gear, we love getting technical about clothing. We love the ins and outs of design, manufacturing, sourcing, etc. And rather than examining a single product, we often review brands as a whole. And one brand that is just as technical as we are: Duckworth Merino wool.
So, whether you’ve tried Duckworth Merino wool before or are a happy returning customer, we hope to provide more information about one of our favorite Merino wool brands.
Disclosure: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain our genuineness and authenticity. However, as an affiliate member, we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
According to Duckworth, the idea for a clothing brand first started on a Montana ski lift. However, their history and legacy can be traced back centuries. And that’s no exaggeration.
Duckworth co-founder John Helle is a fourth-generation sheep farmer. The Helle ranch in Montana is home to tens of thousands of acres of green pasturelands where the Merino sheep live freely. They get shaved once a year, and that wool gets processed into Duckworth apparel.
Image Credit: Duckworth Merino Wool 101
And the best part about Duckworth’s wool is that all the materials are source-verified. The supply chain stays within the United States, and as the consumer, that savings gets passed on to you.
Nowadays, the Helle family’s fifth generation is almost running the ranch, and Duckworth sells the clothing. And let us tell you, it’s by far some of the highest-quality, most unique Merino wool we’ve tested!
Duckworth Merino Wool Specialties
Duckworth focuses on cold-weather outdoor gear and layering pieces. They offer various products, including tees, tanks, bottoms, outerwear, and more!
In our opinion, their clothing style is not as modern as other brands, but rather timeless. Along with the classic look, Duckworth creates their clothing to withstand the harsh winters in the Rockies and the hot Montana summers. In other words, Duckworth’s Merino wool clothing protects you from the elements, just as it does with the sheep.
So whether you’re a skier, hiker, rancher, traveler, or just need an extra warm (and extra comfy) piece of Merino wool clothing, Duckworth has the gear for you.
Where Does Duckworth Source Their Wool?
Unlike many brands that source Merino wool from Australia or New Zealand, Duckworth gets their wool from sheep in the USA. Dillon, Montana, to be exact. And it’s a slightly different breed of Merino sheep than you may expect.
Duckworth uses Helle Rambouillet sheep, a close cousin to Merino. They split from the Merino breed in 1786, when King Louis XVI purchased 300 Merino sheep from his cousin in Spain. A couple of generations later, this new Rambouillet breed ended up in the USA.
A flock of Helle Rambouillet sheep on a snow-covered Montana ranch. Image Credit: Duckworth
Centuries of separation in differing climates have created slight differences in the wool. For example, the Rambouillet sheep in Montana experience harsher conditions than Australian Merino sheep. So, the wool they produce is slightly hardier. It’s made to withstand the frigid Montana winters and surprisingly warm summers. So when it’s spun and knitted, you get the same natural weather-fighting capabilities as the sheep!
Nowadays, the Helle Ranch is home to 10,000 Ramboiullet sheep. They thrive in the lush pastures of the Rockies. Duckworth does their best to transform this natural material into comfortable, stylish clothes for your wardrobe. But really, the sheep are the star of the show.
Sustainability & Ethics
Merino wool is, in itself, a sustainable material. Sheep eat grass, soak up the sun, get shorn, and then the cycle continues. Yet, Duckworth goes the extra mile in maintaining their land. With four generations (and the fifth nearly running the show), the Helle family understands the importance of respecting the meadows and pastures their sheep depend upon. They are self-proclaimed ‘Stewards of the land,‘ and rightfully so. With centuries of experience and continued success, they are as sustainable as possible in today’s business world.
And as you can imagine, as the sheep are the star of the show, they are treated as the star of the show. Duckworth is upfront and transparent about its ethical treatment of its sheep. They basically live as wild animals, munching on the grasses and wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains. In fact, Duckworth says they only come in contact with humans a few days per year when they’re shaved for the summer months.
When they are free to graze, the sheep are happy. Happy sheep produce higher-quality wool with a springier crimp and more temperature regulation properties. So, with everything they do to make their sheep happy, we must give Duckworth an A+ rating in the ethics department.
If you want to learn more about the ethics behind Merino wool as a whole, you can check out our comprehensive ethics guide here.
What We Like
Aside from Duckworth’s commitment to its sheep and the land, we would like to highlight a few more aspects of its brand. This is a partial list with many more positives, yet the following traits set Duckworth apart from the competition.
Fabric Performance & Creativity
While many Merino brands showcase their products at the forefront, some are more secretive about the technology behind their fabrics. However, Duckworth is 100% transparent about the material they use and with an easy naming system. For example, the Vapor hoody is made of the same material as the Vapor briefs!
In fact, Duckworth goes the extra mile to showcase their fabric by explaining each one in-depth on their YouTube channel. We’ve summarized their catalog of materials below, but check out each link if you’re interested in learning more.
|Fabric Name||Composition||Fabric Weight (gsm)||Advantages||Best Uses|
|Vapor||38% Merino, 50% Polyester, 12% Modal||150||Durable, Quick-drying||Mild-to-cool weather with high activity|
|Maverick||100% Merino||160 & 220||Odor-resistant, Insulates when wet||Any next-to-skin layer|
|Polaris||80% Merino, 20% Polyester||175||Waffle knit traps heat, Breathable||Cooler climates as base layer or standalone|
|Comet||100% Merino (outer), 100% polyester (lining)||275||Moisture wicking from synthetics, insulation from wool||High perspiration activities in cooler climates|
|Powder||50% Merino, 20% Polyester, 30% Acrylic||300||Top-notch insulation, brushed like texture||Any cold-weather activity: base, mid, or outer layer|
|Sawtooth||100% Merino||370||Brushed wool button-down||Cold-weather shirt|
|Snowcrest||100% Merino||710||Heaviest traditional wool shirt||Even colder weather shirt|
|WoolCloud||80% Merino, 20% PET (insulation), 100% Nylon (shell & lining)||Insulation||Minimal bulk, sustainable||From 40 °F to -40 °F|
Supply Chain Optimization
Compared with other Merino wool brands, Duckworth is one of the most transparent about their supply chain. They know precisely where their wool comes from and where it goes, from their farm to your closet. And, the best part is, it always stays in the United States!
See, other brands may get their wool from Australia, manufacture the fabric in China, then sell it as a garment in America. However, as you’ve read, Duckworth keeps all production steps within the USA. They get all their wool from their ranch in Montana, then send it to various US locations for scouring, spinning, dying, knitting, and garment production.
Duckworth’s supply chain, all occuring in the USA. Image Credit: Duckworth
While keeping the entire supply chain within the country is green and more affordable, we love it so much because the savings are passed on to you, the customer. Duckworth knows that to keep its customers happy, it must create high-quality at a reasonable price. And they are doing just that.
Areas For Improvement
It seems like Duckworth knows their wool, and they understand what their customers want. Yet, as with every Merino wool brand, they face unique challenges. We wouldn’t necessarily say that the following are negatives but observations that could improve their already-reputable operation.
Larger Color Selection
The men’s collection contains neutral yet unique colors like desert sand, cabin red sage, spruce, and midnight. And on the women’s side, you get the same collections, with a couple extra pastel shades. Looking at the entire Duckworth collection, you may think: “there are tons of colors. What’s this guy even talking about?” Well, it’s not so much about the broad range of colors but the variety of options for each product.
For example, the Duckworth Snowcrest shirt only comes in black, and many of the heavyweight apparel have limited color spectrums. We’d like to see a broader range of colors overall; however, that’s purely out of personal preference.
More Size Availability
We love to help people find the perfect piece of Merino Wool Gear (hence, our name). And as you know, people come in all shapes and sizes. Thus, we like to see brands carry all sizes in all color options. Obviously, that’s not always possible. In Duckworth’s case, they only have the full selection of sizes (Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL) for their most popular sellers, while some of the more niche products are sporadically available.
From a business perspective, this makes perfect sense. Why would Duckworth carry extra inventory for lower-performing items? And since they have a limited wool supply from their herd of 10,000 sheep, they put more raw material into their best sellers. We can’t blame them for their size variations, but it would still be nice if some sizes didn’t sell out so quickly.
But, there is a positive here. Duckworth is one of the few Merino wool brands that allows for size and color notifications when items are out of stock. So, if you don’t see your size, just enter your email and wait for the alert!
Our Favorite Duckworth Merino Wool Gear
Now that you’ve learned much about Duckworth as a brand, it’s time to look closely at our favorite products. The following five pieces of gear combine what Duckworth considers their bestsellers with a couple of added products worth highlighting. Check it out below!
Duckworth Men’s Powder Hoody
50% Merino, 20% Polyester, 30% Acrylic | 300 gsm | Relaxed fit | 6 colors
Made for everything from cold-weather adventure to everyday use, the Powder Hoody is one of our favorite Duckworth Merino wool gear pieces! The soft, comfortable fabric feels excellent against your skin, and you won’t experience the itchiness of traditional wool hoodies. Moreover, the Powder fabric is warm yet lightweight, without any actual bulk. So, you can easily layer something underneath or overtop, depending on the weather.
If you want to learn more about this piece of Merino wool gear, check out the link below. Or, if you’d like, learn more about the best Merino wool hoodies here. Spoiler alert: this Powder Hoody made the list!
Duckworth Women’s Powder High Neck
50% Merino, 20% Polyester, 30% Acrylic | 300 gsm | Relaxed fit | 5 colors
Like the Men’s Powder Hoody, this women’s High Neck is soft, plush, cozy, and all-around comfy. You get warmth without the weight and a classic, timeless style that will last you for years.
In terms of design, it’s an oversized turtleneck but not so much a cowl neck. We classify it as a Merino wool sweater, but it’s more like a hoody with the hood (or lack thereof) designed around the neck.
In short, if you decide to get one for yourself, the Duckworth women’s Powder High Neck will be your go-to cold-weather layering piece. So, see if it fits into your wardrobe today!
Duckworth Men’s Vapor Brief
38% Merino, 50% Polyester, 12% Modal | 150 gsm (ultralight) | Standard fit | 6 colors
We’ve always said the best Merino wool underwear is the pair that you can barely feel. You want something comfy yet durable, supportive but not restrictive. And with a silky-smooth next-to-skin feel, the Duckworth Vapor Briefs are some of the best underwear.
The comfort level of these briefs is insane. The ultralight, odor-proof, itch-free Vapor fabric keeps your private area dry and cool. Moreover, the brushed waistband and functional fly add to the comfort level.
So, if you’re in the market for a new pair of Merino wool briefs, look no further. And once you try these Duckworth Merino wool underwear, you’ll never want to go back.
Duckworth Knit Rigger Hat (Unisex)
Ribbed Merino wool knit | Casual fit | One size | 6 colors
The Duckworth Knit Rigger hat is a classic, stylish beanie that will get you through those cold winter months. This may look like your traditional beanie, but it’s much better. Moreover, since Merino wool keeps you warm when it’s cool out and cool when it’s warm, you can wear it in the spring and fall without sweating. It just has that friendly, cozy vibe that we love so much.
The knit itself isn’t too thick, making it much easier to use the adjustable cuff. You can even wear the Knit Rigger hat as a hipster beanie if you’d like. Plus, there are half-a-dozen colors to choose from (Military Green and Goldrush are our favorites). Whichever color you choose, whether you wear it cuffed or slouched, this Duckworth Knit Rigger hat will be your go-to beanie.
Duckworth Powder Roper Gloves (Unisex)
Exterior: 3-oz. tanned deerskin | Lining: 50% Merino, 20% Polyester, 30% Acrylic | 300 gsm (lining) | 2 colors
These gloves must be one of our favorite and most unique pieces of Merino wool gear. The interior is lined with Duckworth’s 300-gsm Powder fabric, providing a warm and dry microclimate for your hands. However, the outside is tanned deerskin courtest of Sullivan Glove Co. in Oregon, making them strong, solid, and 100% made in the USA.
This rare mixture of wool and deerskin shows the incredible range of Merino wool. From hoodies to underwear to beanies, Merino wool does it all! Check out these Duckworth Powder Roper gloves below for more info!
Where Can I Find Duckworth Wool Sales?
If you’re looking for an easy way to score deals on Duckworth Merino won’t clothing, you might be out of luck. While they often have blanket holiday discounts and closeout sales, they are rarer than competing brands. Although, this lack of consistent deals is not out of disrespect to you as a customer. It’s mainly because Duckworth only sources their wool from their sheep, so there is less raw material overall. And if the clothes are so exclusive, there is little inventory for Duckworth to discount.
Although, if you plan on purchasing in the future, you can sign up for Duckworth’s loyalty program. You get $10 off for every 100 points you earn, and points are earned by spending money or performing other tasks. For example, after signing up, you can get 15 points for reading more about their wool, 35 points for sharing Duckworth content on Facebook, and 200 points for your birthday. A max of 600 points ($60 off) are allowed per order, so passing up on the loyalty program is challenging when the benefits far outweigh the efforts it takes to activate them.
Warranty & Return Policy
Duckworth is proud of their garments, which is why their warranty is so customer-centric. If your Duckworth gear fails due to a manufacturing defect within twelve months of the order, they will replace it for free. This does not include shrunk, pilled, neglected, or otherwise improperly cared-for gear. So start a warranty claim, send a pic to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they’ll sort you all out.
Moreover, if you get a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit or isn’t what you expected, Duckworth offers a simple return process. Just input your order number and zip code into their Happy Returns Portal, and follow the steps. Best of all, you’ll even get free return shipping if your order qualifies!
We hope we covered everything you wanted to know about Duckworth Merino wool. They are indeed a sustainable, high-quality Merino wool brand. They treat their sheep with respect and freedom, and in turn, they provide us with their wool for our gear.
Overall, we give Duckworth our seal of approval and hope you can check out some of their collections.
Still, if there is anything we should have covered that you’d like to know about Duckworth or suggestions about other Merino wool clothing, follow us on the socials below. By subscribing to our newsletter, you can get deals and discounts on the latest Merino wool gear.