Voormi: The Next Generation Woolen Apparel Tested and Reviewed

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I’ll get to Formy in a second, but like many hunters of my generation, I’ve learned that wool is the way to go. I invested in the best of the Filson – Mackinaw Cruiser and matching pants. Later, I took cues from the Benoits, Northwoods deer-hunting legends from Maine, and outfitted myself with the plaid sweatshirts, jackets, and pants they used while tracking monster dollars through the snow.

As the ancient fishermen knew, the advantages of wool is that it retains its ability to insulate even when wet, it is quiet when brushing, it is durable, and if a woolen garment is torn, you can repair it.

However, wool comes with some downsides. After a day hunting in wet snow or rain—as was the custom in many of the places I have lived and hunted, such as northern Michigan and Washington’s Cascade Mountains—those woolen garments, already somewhat bulky, seemed to double in weight. They also absorb sweat as easily as water and can ripen during a hard week of hunting.

With all the miracle fabrics coming up over the past 20 years, I’ve stayed away from wool for the most part, other than my socks and sometimes Merino Long John. Lightweight, waterproof, and breathable layering systems from the likes of Sitka, Kuiu, Stone Glacier, and others have come to dominate my collection.

Excellent fishing
The Voormi River Run Jacket is ideally suited for hunting in low temperatures. John B. Snow

How do you say “Voormi”

But about two years ago, I came across Voormi, a Colorado-based company with a unfortunately hard-to-pronounce name (chime with “for me”). I started with one of my long sleeve zip base layers and slowly added pieces to my gear set. Before long, I was regularly wearing about half a dozen of their items and realized their wool was the real deal.

It’s come to a point where no matter where I fish, fish, or fish—whether in Africa, Alaska, Montana, Mongolia, or Mexico—I’m probably wearing something of their making. One of the most interesting things about the company is the way they craft pieces that not only excel in the cold and wet, which you’d expect from wool, but work great when it’s hot and sunny, too.

Formi wool features

  • Core Construction clothing features a waterproof/windproof layer within a fleece-like fabric
  • SC stage clothing is made to absorb light for improved concealment
  • UL double-surface clothing is light, moisture wicking, and provides UV protection
  • Made in USA

Voormi has a range of different types of technology built into their parts. I usually don’t like to read marketing phrases, but Formi has enough talking with their lineup that it makes sense to note in the list. Also, having tested their stuff in many different environments, I feel that their technology does what they say it does, so I’m comfortable using their terminology.

basic construction

Their core structure blends wool, carbon fibre, polyester and cotton nylon within a single layer of fabric to create waterproof and windproof clothing that is both quiet and comfortable.

double deck UL

The double decker UL is a very light blended wool that protects from the sun, weighs almost nothing, absorbs moisture, and works really well when it’s hot and sunny. They also have a double-surface flour blend, which is a little stronger when it’s cooler but also hardens well.

surface hardening

Surface Hardened Thermal Fleece is one of the most interesting and versatile fabrics they make. It is extremely durable and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. It sheds water, keeps winds out, and provides excellent warmth, yet it’s well-ventilated—all while being comfortable to wear and able to handle a lot of abuse.

SC . stage

Another class I have a lot of experience with is Voormi’s Phase SC, which is their camouflage. But being a tech company, they refer to it as “Hide Technology”. This is also very versatile. It is quiet and designed to have a minimal visible footprint in low light. It also does a good job of not retaining odors. It does well in cool to cold conditions and can handle a moderate amount of rain. Because it’s so breathable, it’s also good for active hunters who raise their core temperature, hike and climb and then may end up sitting still for an hour or two while glassing.

Voormi test in the field

As I mentioned, I’ve taken Voormi’s stuff around the world and I’ve been really impressed with how well she handled everything thrown at me. Here are some of my experiences and observations with specific pieces.

in the form of a hoodie
The author wears the River Run Hoodie during a long-range shooting competition in Montana. John B. Snow

Hoody River Run

Linus has his blanket. Frodo has his ring. It has got a Hoody River Run. This long-sleeved, hooded gown comes with me pretty much everywhere. It uses Dual Surface UL technology and is made of Merino wool. It has a loose and comfortable fit, and although it is very light, it can take a beating. I wear it during shooting competitions, in anything but the hottest conditions I will ever wear while hunting, and most recently, surviving a grueling two-week sheep hunt in Alberta.

It does a great job of keeping the sun at bay and is a great layering piece. While hunting sheep, I wore it directly on my skin when it was warm and slept with it at night when it got cold. Even after wearing it for over a week in a row, it didn’t sort out.

I spent many hours of that chasing on horseback-busting trails through fir forests, and, despite the mistreatment, came up in one piece—although there are a number of little holes in them now, thanks to a 40-foot slide down a steep slope at the foot of the rocky mountain. It costs $129 and is worth every penny.

Initial catch
The author in the Access NXT Pullover with aoudad of West Texas got it after 1,200 yards through muskets and cactus. John B. Snow

Access to NXT Pullover

This shirt is amazingly versatile. It combines Surface Hardened texture with Phase SC camouflage. The mine is in harvest mode and has done well in fishing operations in Texas and Mexico where arid conditions create a lot of yellow and brown vegetation.

I don’t know exactly what goes into the Surfaced Hardened technique, but it does a good job when moving through mesquite and other razor brushes. I made a 1200-yard leg on aoudad in West Texas last winter while wearing a pullover and was able to slide to 90 yards from the ram without messing it up.

The Access NXT is especially available at home in cold to cold conditions. Combined with a proper base layer, it keeps you warm even in freezing temperatures. It also does a very good job of cutting wind. The cake topper is that the four-way stretch fabric is also remarkably comfortable.

Alberta sheep hunt
During a two-week sheep hunting trip in Alberta, the author relied on the River Run Hoodie with Voormi’s Merino Tech Tee. John B. Snow

Merino Tech . T-Shirt

Speaking of the base layer, this simple Merino Short Sleeve T-Shirt qualifies as a go-everywhere essential. Voormi isn’t the only company offering merino wool base layers, but not every other clothing maker has figured out how to make wool comfortable when worn on bare skin.

This shirt looks nothing like traditional wool and I’ve been wearing it all day (and all night) in complete comfort. It keeps you warm when it’s cold, and has good wicks so it keeps you cool when it’s warm. Easily stacks with other pieces to add an extra layer of warmth when needed.

High-E Hoodie

When the temperatures drop, and the winds pick up, I reach for this hoodie. It is deceptively warm and windproof. In fact, it’s so light that it took me a while to discover that it wasn’t really suitable for mild weather; I wore it under normal conditions and it quickly heated up.

But when it gets cold – which has been the case for half a year in my home country – that is the only thing. Like the Access NXT Pullover, it’s built with Surfaced Hardened technology, which gives it great abrasion resistance.

When pressed, the collar comes up under the nose, and the cap is tightened around the head, providing great protection against cold winds. For winter fly fishing trips and waterfowl, it is ideal.

It has a center pocket that pulls on both sides and is clipped to a snug fit, so it doesn’t have any excessive slop. But I’m not a petite guy, and XL fits me well; It does not restrict or restrict my movement in any way but it wears well under the waders.

Other Formi Pieces

I’ve also used Voormi’s stockings and long underwear, and they do everything you’d expect from those items. Voormi also makes harsher weather outerwear, which I haven’t used, but I have no reason to suspect that it doesn’t offer the level of protection and performance the company claims.

last thoughts

Making good clothes is surprisingly difficult. Usually, when I take a critical look at a company’s offerings, I’ll find a number of pieces that work well, along with others that may need some improvement. Formi seems to have avoided this contradiction. Each of the items I’ve added to my collection stands out for its performance.

But more important is how well the pieces complement each other. Base layers and middle layers work in tandem with each other really well for the versatility of mixing and matching. The upshot is that you can pack a few of their items and prepare for a great variety of environmental conditions.

And the combination of Voormi’s performance and durability removes the pressure of its premium price tag. For anyone who depends on high-performance technology equipment – or just wants to take advantage of best-in-class equipment – Voormi is a smart choice.

And let’s not forget that this is taking place in the context of the revival of the most traditional – and beloved – sports textile: wool. For those of my generation who have grown up with a reverence for sheep-based things, it is heartening to see it experiencing a renaissance and reclaiming its place as one of the best materials for outdoor gear.

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