Merino Wool, Montana-Style

Duckworth is an independent wool company out of Montana. They make some of the nicest wool shirts we’ve ever worn—soft, light, comfortable. Plus, their wool is source-verified, meaning it’s sustainably harvested from sheep they raise themselves at 9,500 feet in elevation in Bozeman, and all their shirts are stitched in the U.S., in the textile hub of the Carolinas.

So when we met Robert Bernthal, aka Bernie, who launched the Montana wool company Duckworth two years ago, and shared a bottle of scotch after a day of skiing in Utah, it was only natural that Flylow and Duckworth join forces. The result? The just-released Duckworth Co-Lab T, a quick-drying, odor-fighting merino wool shirt built for any activity that makes you sweat. We called up Bernie for a run down on what makes Montana wool so special.

So are you looking at a bunch of sheep from outside your Bozeman office right now?
Bernie:
That would be pretty great if I were. But no, our sheep live down the road. They’re at the ranch, which is about 15 or 20 minutes from our office.
duckworth_ranch_1
What’s so unique about your wool, compared to other wool companies?
The number one difference is we are the only Montana wool company. All of our wool is merino wool grown in Montana. Other brands used imported wool shipped around the world before it finally comes to a store shelf. Duckworth wool is grown at high altitude in the northern Rocky Mountains. From there, it’s sent to the Carolinas, which was once the hot bed of the American textile industry. We are 100 percent made in the USA. The ranching side of the business are fourth generation wool growers and a multi-generational skiing family, too. That gives them a huge connections to the mountains.

Does raising sheep at high elevations make for better quality wool?
Thanks to Montana’s extremely cold winters and hot summers, we can create a wool with a lot of crimp and loft. That makes our wool fabrics feel different than other fabrics. It’s loftier and has more stretch, without any added lycra.

You say your wool is “source verified.” What does that mean exactly?
Since we control the entire process, we are able to create custom fabrics where other companies are buying their fabrics off the shelf. We don’t buy anything off the shelf. It’s like buying a drink at a 7-11 versus going to a boutique bartender and ordering a custom made cocktail shaken with fresh squeezed juices.

The team at Bozeman-based wool company, Duckworth.

Speaking of cocktails, I understand this co-lab shirt with Flylow started with a bottle of whiskey after a day of skiing.
We were ripping it up at Deer Valley. We were skiing the extreme, and by that I mean it was extremely hard and icy. It was the end of a few days of gear testing, so the Flylow guys—Dan and Greg—invited us over to drink a bottle of whiskey. But it turned out they only had half a bottle. So we all had half a glass. They promised to bring more next time.

What made you want to work with Flylow?
Flylow is committed to producing exceptionally good outerwear, with hands-on design and owned by its users. It’s not directed by some private equity company. The owners are the users. Putting that intimate knowledge into product is the same commitment Duckworth shows. We are our core customers. So I’m honored to do a co-lab with Flylow.

Why should someone wear wool for active pursuits?
Wool has come a long ways. It’s no longer your grandfather’s sweater. That’s like comparing a car from the 50s to a Tesla. It’s got softness, stretchability, and performance. Wool was the original high performance outdoor fiber for hundreds of years and now, it’s the choice of outdoor experts around the world. That’s a testimonial to the natural technical ability of wool. Plus, it’s completely sustainable. Once you try a modern wool garment, you’ll never go back to cotton or polyester.

duckworth_ranch_4

Be sure to check out the new Flylow Duckworth Co-Lab T here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *