Everybody has that one "thing" they're perpetually searching for. For Captain Ahab, it was the Great White Whale. For King Arthur's Knights, it was the Holy Grail. For me, it's the perfect accent blanket.
Over the past couple of years, I've compiled an impressively large list of "perfect blanket" candidates. I've spent countless hours scouring the internet, and rummaged through stores, in hopes of finding just the right one. After years of searching, I've finally narrowed down this obscenely bloated list to a handful of potential contenders. Here are a few of my favorite manufacturers, and some of the fantastic blankets they produce.
Please note that the criteria for this list is based on design, and design alone. Material (100% wool vs a blend) and size (throw vs bed) were not part of the equation (though I've been leaning towards a wool throw). It's is completely unscientific, and humorously lacking in any quantifiable data. This is strictly a "man, that blanket is rad, and I wish I had one" type of list.
Since 1865, Faribault Mills has been producing high quality woolen products from their factory in Faribault, Minnesota. This family run mill, the oldest operating business in the state of Minnesota, has built a legacy on quality. "Five generations of craftsman have elevated the weaver's art" to become the highly revered brand that it is today. Between the late 1960's, and the early 1990's, the Mill produced over half the blankets being made in the US each year.
Some of my favorite designs come from their Army & Military line of blankets. According to the Mill:
"The Faribault military wool blanket has been in our production since we began making blankets for the military in 1897. We carry on the tradition of making quality blankets today, holding steady to the processes that made them so durable back then. Our army surplus wool blankets are a living testament to America’s finest."
Can't mess with that.
When I think outdoor clothing, I think Woolrich. Not just because they bill themselves as "The Original Outdoor Clothing Company Since 1830", but because they are permanently engrained into my childhood memories. You see, as a kid, my Dad would take me to a hunting and fishing camp in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania. We would hunt for whitetail in the winter, and fish for trout in the summer. Nearly every sportsman at that lodge donned some piece of Woolrich clothing.
The Buffalo Check Wool Shirt was the clothing of choice for every man in that camp. You couldn't go a season without seeing that famous red and black plaid. In fact, that pattern was so prevalent, that it's now the official color of my camping memories. You can't buy that kind of marketing.
A fan favorite is the official Hudson Bay line of blankets and throws. To quote Woolrich:
"Woolrich offers Hudson's Bay Point Blankets under the official license of the historic Hudson's Bay Company. Our Hudson's Bay Point Blankets retain the authentic 100% wool quality that has made these blankets legendary. Like those sold in the 18th century, today's blankets are made in England with wool blended from sources in England, Wales, New Zealand, and India. Each type of wool is selected for qualities that help create a water-resistant, soft, warm, and strong final product. The wool is dyed before it is spun and then air- and sun-dried to brighten the colors. This blanket warms the interior of any home. It will keep you and your guests warm on the coldest nights, just as they've kept generations of trappers, hunters, fur traders, and Native Americans warm and comfortable. "
Pendleton Woolen Mills
There is no disputing the fact that Pendleton is a giant in the woolen products industry. Since 1863, this Oregon-based mill has been producing some of the highest quality blankets on the market. They've also developed a wide range of popular clothes, bags, and home accessories. The company collaborates with brands such as Levi's and Dr. Martens, to develop unique products, with a Pendleton flair. Their commitment to social responsibility, and the environment, makes them a company you can feel good about buying from.
The Mill is largely synonymous with their own brand of Native American themed blankets and patterns. Since the company's beginnings, they've worked directly with North American Indians to weave products that accurately represent the visual designs of the culture. Many of these Indian-themed products, such as the blankets, robes, and shawls are "highly prized" by much of the Native American community. One way the company gives back to the Indian community, is by donating proceeds from their blankets to the American Indian College Fund.
Pendleton famously produces a line of National Park themed blankets. According to their site:
"Since the early 1900s, Pendleton has honored America's greatest national treasures — our National Parks — with a collection of distinctive park blankets. Each blanket has a Pendleton label signifying its authenticity and a special woven label with the park name and image of an important natural feature. 100% pure virgin wool. Dry clean. Made in the USA."
Photos courtesy of Hanks Clothing.
Best Made Company
So now, I present to you, my most favoritist blanket of them all. The blanket to end all blankets. The one and only... Best Made Company Famous Red Wool Blanket.
So, It's not that I consider the quality to be above any of the other companies on the list (it is made by Pendelton, so that says something). It's that, as a total package, I really dig this blanket. Here's why:
- I've been looking for the perfect shade of solid red for a long time. This is that shade of red.
- The four stripes and folding hashes (found in a slightly darker red along the edge of the blanket) add the right balance of design for me. They are clean, subtle enough to not overpower the blanket, and can be hidden with a fold.
- That X in the center is pretty pimp.
- That woven patch is pretty rad too.
- The dark red overlock stitch adds just enough contrast. I also like the edge of my blankets stitched (not plain, or tasseled).
Now, it's no secret that I'm a Best Made fan. Am I buying into the marketing? Sure. Does the price tag increase the perceived quality for me? Maybe. Could I use this money to buy two other high quality blankets? You betcha. (though at $248, it's on par with other blankets in this category). The reason I connect with this particular blanket, is because It has everything I'm looking for in one purchase.
This is by no means a definitive list. Far from it. These are just a few of my personal favorites. Here are a number of other blankets that are also amazing, and well worth checking out. Go buy one.
There are so many great blankets these days. Get out there and find your own. Have any other suggestions for the perfect blanket? Let me know.