Most folk in German speaking regions will obviously know what Loden material is about, however, the reason I'm writing about Loden is that, unfortunately, it's not very well known in the UK & Ireland. Although I believe tweed is along similar lines, coming from Scotland in the 18th Century.
Basically, Loden is a stronger and tighter weave of wool and is probably about 66% denser, it's water resistant, windbreaking and won't burn if a spark hits it. Considered by outdoor professionals to be the first performance gear which was used by the European pioneers climbing in the Himalayas and other extreme mountain regions.
Anyway, just to quickly summarize the background & history of Loden.
So, Loden is from the Austrian and German Alps, as typically it would be, it's also argued over, by the two countries as to who invented it first. They've been arguing over Mozart for years, a certain dictator and probably the Schnitzel, so might as well argue over Loden.
Arguing aside though, Loden was invented over 600 years ago in the Alps. It was worn by simple mountain folk in the high Alps to keep them warm during their activities and tasks outdoors. Eventually the Aristocracy got wind of this and wanted a piece of it, leading to all kinds of country fashions in Loden clothing and also being a silent material, implemented into hunting.
If you are interested in a more in depth history and the manufacturing process here is an article by Robert W. Stolz which covers those aspects:
So in my humble opinion, Loden is an amazing material
However, like with anything else it's not all good, it definitely does have some disadvantages. It's bulky and has fairly more weight compared to modern alternatives and although being water resistant, like everything else after getting rained on non stop (in my part of the world it is pretty much non stop, all the time, constantly) it will eventually get wet, which also makes it heavier too. Price is also high because regardless whether your garment is Austrian or German, it's made there as it was 100's of years ago. I think there are some Scandinavian companies now making Loden products (for the same price), but don't even come close to the Alpine quality, they are also making some of their lines in South East Asia and even mixing in synthetics.
Personally I use Loden almost every day, but it also probably depends on your activity, you might not want to pack a bulky Loden Anorak in your bag if your gonna be trekking for weeks. In my case I am in the woods on a daily basis and need something really robust and Loden does that for me. One of the qualities I love the most about Loden, is that it doesn't need to be washed, in fact it shouldn't be. It won't take on odor and you can clean it with just a wet cloth if you have a stain. Some outdoor folk just smoke their Loden smocks over a tripod on the fire and that's it clean.
Obviously being spark proof is another brilliant quality and you can comfortably sit by the fire and get bombarded by spitting embers and won't ever have any little annoying burn holes.
Breathability is excellent, so you can get battered by winds, whilst doing certain tasks and won't be drenched either while your garment helps you regulate body temperature better. Hunters love this stuff too, as it's silent, if you're outdoors stalking wildlife, there's nothing better than Loden.
The last few months I've been using 2 brands one Austrian and one German (Bavarian), both of which I have been hammering in the outdoors in everyday use for all the outdoor tasks that I cover, such as chopping firewood, trekking through the mountains, tracking and stalking wildlife to sitting by the campfire and woodcarving.
I will be doing a little write up on both brands individually, but here's a quick overview to get the ball rolling.
Firstly I'm using Loden-friedl which I initially started using for the Loden backpacks. A little Bavarian outfit that's been handcrafting Loden products for 60 years. They're mainly hunting orientated, and again, products all geared to silence, backpacks even having silent covers for buckles. In my hoofing kit tab, there's also a link to their website. It's currently only in
German, but site navigation is easy enough and the products speak for themselves.
Lodenwalker is the Austrian firm that I'm also covering. Now these guys have been in the business for over 600 years, so fairly experienced I'd say. Now their product range is very broad and also have fashion lines, but they are still at the top of their game in the quality of their gear. I've been abusing a pair of Lodenwalker trousers in the woods without mercy and they perform extremely well. What's great aswell is that Lodenwalker will just repair gear for you, if it fails (which I seriously don't believe will happen). Again, links are in hoofing kit or click here (German language only):
Like I said, I will be writing on individual pieces, but please have a look at the gear as Loden shouldn't be missed if your an outdoor enthusiast.