what is a sherpa blanket

What is a Sherpa Blanket? Everything about Sherpa Blankets

The Sherpa people migrated from Tibet about 500 years ago and settled in the perilous peaks of the world’s tallest mountain — Mount Everest.

And what happens when you live in a place where mountain weather sometimes cools down to as low as 30F? You make warm, cozy blankets that do a great job of keeping the cold out.

Then curious tourists come, see how warm and toasty you are despite really cold winter weather, and a light bulb goes off in their head — a real aha moment.

They decide that the rest of the world needs to copy your ingenious way of battling the nasty frosts of the Himalayas. And now, I love me some Sherpa blanket! But what’s a Sherpa blanket?

What’s a Sherpa Blanket?

 a sherpa blanket

A Sherpa blanket is a kind of fleece blanket made from Sherpa fabric. It’s a luxurious fabric manufactured using 100% synthetic fibers such as polyester or acrylic, but manufacturers sometimes use cotton. The fabric is produced in a way that makes it mimic the amazing properties of wool without being as heavy, delicate, expensive, or animal-unfriendly. Unlike obtaining wool, no sheep ever gets stressed out or suffers cruelty when obtaining Sherpa; it’s an eco-friendly option (at least to an extent). These blankets are brushed and then crimped to give them an aesthetically pleasing wooly appearance and feel. Yes, it’s faux sheepskin, but Sherpa is warmer than many regular fleece blankets.

Below is a set of reasons why parents, seniors, and everyone else love Sherpa.

1. Sherpa Blankets Shine at Insulation

When it comes to insulation, nothing comes close to a decent Sherpa blanket. These blankets are great when it comes to trapping heat/warmth, keeping babies and adults warm during the cooler months.

Aside from heat insulation, this material also does a great job of shielding the wearer against chilly winds. Have you ever wondered why babies sleep forever when wrapped in a Sherpa blanket? It’s because the feather-soft Sherpa lining of the blanket creates a Nirvana-like experience, a fuzzy heaven that little ones don’t want to exit.

Fleece vs. wool, which is warmer? Fleece isn’t as good as wool when it comes to insulation. Wool offers natural insulation — better insulation. That’s why the heaviest and warmest winter coats for the coldest winters are made from wool rather than fleece. And as stated earlier, sherpa blankets are made to imitate wool.

2. Sherpa Wicks Away Moisture Like a Pro

If you think ultra-fluffy Sherpa blankets are lame at wicking away moisture, think again. This world-famous fabric dries pretty quickly contrary to what you might imagine. When it comes to transferring moisture away from your baby’s delicate skin, only 100% cotton is a worthy match.

What’s the net effect of wrapping a baby in a blanket made of one of the quickest-drying, most breathable materials ever created?

The baby sleeps like, well, a baby. And there’s zero chance that the little one will drown in sweat while napping! They’re super soft, warm, comfy blankets.

3. Sherpa isn’t As Bulky as Wool and Other Fleece

We want lightweight everything. Lightweight shoes, lightweight jackets, lightweight helmets, lightweight bikes, and lightweight snuggly blankets.

Sherpa blankets are lighter and less bulky compared to wool ones. Also, Sherpa blankets are plushier and thicker than many fleece ones. But they’re not as heavy and bulky as their fleecy competitors. That said, some fleece blankets are pretty thin and feel like nothing when you throw them on your body.

But how light are Sherpa-lined baby blankets? Baby blankets lined with fluffy Sherpa are so light that you can use them safely in the car or on the stroller. Whether you’re traveling to some destination with your baby or just strolling across the city shopping, this blanket got your baby covered.

You don’t want to keep your baby covered the entire time, of course. When the weather outside warms up, ditch the blanket no matter how light it is. Instead, crank up the stroller fan or the car’s air con.

4. Sherpa Baby Blankets Are a Stylish Buy

Some of the most useful products on the planet also happen to be some of the ugliest. But this isn’t the case with Sherpa blankets.

This product features two sides. There’s a side that packs tons of softness, fluffiness, luxuriousness, and great looks. Then there’s the other side with beautiful prints and amazing color choices for enhanced aesthetics.

The baby blanket looks and feels incredibly good. Your little one will look up and thank the heavens that they were lucky enough to be your child.

5. Sherpa is Strong and Lasts Long

When someone describes something as soft or fluffy, the last idea that pops into your mind isn’t “durable.”The idea that springs to mind is “short-lived” and “expensive.”

But that’s not how it is with these blankets. They’re soft to touch but unbelievably long-lasting. Still, nothing lasts forever, right?

6. Making Sherpa Blankets Necessitates Zero Animal Suffering

If you’re anything like yours truly, you love animals and the thought of anyone treating them with cruelty makes you cringe.

I eat less animal products these days (dairy), and I’ve quit consuming meat altogether. I love animals, whether they’re adorable pets like dogs, or unfortunate sheep that have to endure stress when being shorn.

Manufacturers use cotton or synthetic fibers when making Sherpa blankets. And isn’t this a good enough reason to start loving Sherpa?

7. Sherpa Is Easier to Care for Compared to Wool

Taking care of wool blankets and clothes can be a huge challenge. Wool is delicate, and wrong care and maintenance can harm it.

Wool shrinks more than Sherpa when subjected to high temperatures. This is why it might be possible to shrink a wool shirt down to a better fit. And here’s how to shrink wool shirts if you ever need to do this.

When washing a Sherpa blanket or removing stains from it, that’s quite easy. Synthetic and cotton fibers stand up well to water. And Sherpa fleece blankets don’t stain as easily. Stain removal can be a difficult job with natural fibers such as wool, but it does get easier with synthetics.

All you need to do to clean a Sherpa blanket is to add some baby-friendly detergent to cool water and handwash the item. Alternatively, you can toss the Sherpa baby blanket into the washing machine and wash it on a delicate cycle using cold water. You don’t want to use any kind of bleach or fabric softeners on Sherpa-lined items. More on how to wash Sherpa blankets in a later section.

8. Sherpa Tends to be Cheaper Than Wool

If you’re a price-conscious shopper, you’ll love that Sherpa-lined blankets, jackets, and toys are generally cheaper than those made from natural wool. Sometimes, the cost difference between natural wool and faux sheepskin-lined items can be substantial.

History of Sherpa Blankets

a sherpa blanket

The history of Sherpa blankets is intertwined with that of the Sherpa people, an ethnic group who 500 years ago traveled from Tibet to their current dwelling in the Northeastern Himalayas, Nepal. Sherpa means People Who Live in the East.

These people lived in an extremely cold environment (not as cold as the Arctic region though). They had to invent something to keep out the cold. Of course, the blankets they made came from real sheepskin, but that’s no longer the case when making modern Sherpa blankets.

Well, many items today are still made from sheep wool. However, more and more people seem to be gravitating toward animal-friendly products. Small wonder the world’s beginning to drown in a sea of vegan-friendly blankets and vegan everything else.

Wondering who invented Sherpa and when? The first company to make Sherpa fleece was Malden Mills Industries in the 1980’s, an American company known as Polartec today. This company focused on making lightweight fabrics and wool clothes.

The business wanted to help folks who participated in extremely exacting sports such as mountaineering stay warm while pushing their limits outdoors. Wool was the go-to fabric then because it had all the qualities that made for practical cold-weather apparel. But there were downsides to wool winter-weather clothing, too.

Wool was pretty heavy and bulky. This meant that the clothes weren’t the most comfortable or convenient when climbing up steep, icy rockfaces. Malden Mills Industries needed to find a new, better fabric, one that had the warmth-generating capabilities of wool without weighing too much or being too bulky.

This company leveraged the inspiration it drew from the creativity of the Sherpa people and created a fabric that made winter wear more appealing, lighter, and comfier. This was (and still is) a community of natural mountain climbers; folks who’d learned how to stay warm and comfortable even when the going got chilly and windy. It’s this collective creativity of the Sherpa that birthed modern Sherpa fleece.

It was a good ending for everyone including sheep and lamb. The company was kind enough to credit the community for their ingenuity by naming the newly invented fabric after them.

This new, smoking-hot fabric boasted the looks and feel of wool without being wool-heavy. And the best part? It wasn’t as pricey as wool. Plus, it performed decently as far as insulation — not as good as wool but quite close.

Sherpa vs. Fleece: What’s the Difference?

Sherpa is similar to sheepskin as far as looks and feel are concerned. It has a smooth knitted side while the other side is fuzzy and nappy. As for fleece, any fabric that’s brushed on one or both sides to create a soft pile is considered to be fleece. This means that Sherpa is a kind of fleece.

One key difference between Sherpa and other kinds of fleece is that it’s typically used as a liner while regular fleece often is used to make items on its own. Another difference is that Sherpa isn’t as thick as fleece, but it’s softer and tends to cost more.

Below is a comparison between Sherpa and fleece so you can have an even clearer grasp of the differences and similarities. The section below focuses on fabric thickness, softness, warmth, moisture-wicking ability, use, maintenance, and cost.

Sherpa vs. Fleece: Which is Softer?

Both are soft fabrics, but Sherpa is a tad softer. It’s one of the softest and fuzziest fabrics ever designed.

Moisture-Wicking Ability

Even though both fabrics are created from synthetic fibers such as acrylic and polyester, they boast decent moisture-wicking ability.

Fabric Care and Maintenance

Both fleece and Sherpa are quite easy to care for. They have reasonable resistance to stains, and stain removal isn’t super difficult.

Handwashing fleece or Sherpa in cold water with a mild detergent is enough. But the fabrics can also be machine-washed with cold water. You don’t want to dry fleece and Sherpa clothes in a tumble dryer though. But some people choose to tumble dry the fabrics on a low-heat setting.

Fabric Use: Fleece is More Versatile Than Sherpa

For the most part, Sherpa fabric is used for lining a whole range of winter-weather apparel. By comparison, fleece fabrics are used to make complete items such as winter coats, baby blankets, gloves, cold-weather jackets, sweatpants, and whatnot. Evidently, fleece is more versatile than Sherpa.

Fabric Thickness and Warmth

Both are fuzzy and warm. Most fleece fabrics are available in varying thicknesses and weights while Sherpa tends not to be as thick. But it’s certainly not thin.

There’s super light fleece, microfleece, and thick polar fleece while there’s just lightweight Sherpa that features fuzzy, velvety pile.

Both fabrics are warm, but Sherpa-lined coats and jackets can be incredibly warm. Since fleece can be used singly to make a garment and is available in thicker versions, it may be warmer in some cases.

Fabric Cost

Neither fabric is exactly dirt-cheap, but regular fleece tends to be cheaper.

How to Use a Sherpa Blanket

Sherpa fleece blankets come in different sizes. The throw size happens to be the most popular, but if you share a bed or snuggle on the sofa with someone, you may want to order the twin size Sherpa fleece blanket.

If you’re wondering what size Sherpa blanket to buy as a gift for a loved one, choose the throw size. A throw-size Sherpa blanket will always find some use around the house.

The recipient can use it to stay warm while riding in a car. Or they might use it to fight off the cold in their chilly office.  And when they’re watching their favorite TV program, what’s better than to grab their throw-size blanket, drape it across the shoulders, and just immerse themselves into the experience?

A twin-size Sherpa is the perfect blanket if you share a bed with a SO. It’s wide and long enough, and it’s not as thin as those flannel blankets that have zero weight to them.

A Sherpa blanket is thick and heavy enough, but not too heavy that it’s uncomfortable. It’s the right kind of heavy, the kind of heavy that lulls you into restful bliss before the usual worries of life usher in insomnia.

If you have a baby or toddler and it’s a little cold where you live, cover the little one with a nice Sherpa baby blanket. Leave the head uncovered — find other ways to keep the noggin warm. The blanket is highly breathable, but suffocation can happen to napping babies, you know.

In the car, tuck the Sherpa baby blanket around your kiddo. It needs to stay over the harness, NEVER under it for safety reasons.

Draping a Sherpa baby blanket over an infant car seat when it’s extremely cold is a good idea. It shields them against cold wind while trapping the kid’s body heat in for a comfortable, fun ride. Since it’s unsafe for kids to wear bulky winter coats while in a baby car seat, why not get them a nice, lightweight Sherpa baby blanket?

Finally, you can keep your kid warm and cozy in their stroller when the weather gets nasty. Since a Sherpa stroller blanket is typically smaller than a regular crib-size cover, no extra material gets in the way.

You don’t want to cover the stroller when it’s warm outside to block the sun. Instead, use a stroller fan. Or simply peel off a layer.

How to Wash a Sherpa Blanket

There are two ways to wash a Sherpa blanket:

  • You can handwash it with a gentle detergent in cold water.
  • The second method is to agitate it with a washing machine in a cold water cycle. If your washer lacks the cold water cycle, select a low-temperature setting.
  • Stay away from fabric softeners and chlorine bleaches.
  • If you use an all-purpose detergent, that’s OK. However, find a way of eliminating any lingering residue from this detergent. The best way to take care of any remaining all-purpose detergent is to rinse the Sherpa blanket with cool water mixed with half a cup of white vinegar. But why endure the pain when you could just use a gentle, Sherpa-friendly detergent?  
  • Sherpa care tip: Avoid loading Sherpa blankets alongside other clothes. If you don’t wash the blanket individually, the other items in the load will rub against its soft, fluffy fibers. And the result? Pilling and some of the fibers shredding, neither of which is pretty. 
  • Finally, air-dry the item instead of tumbling it. Can you dry a Sherpa blanket in a dryer? Yes, you can, but you need to choose the lowest temperature setting available. It’s best to air-dry the blanket.

How to Remove Stains from a Sherpa Blanket

Greasy or oily stains inevitably get into beautiful Sherpa blankets. And no one except professional cleaners likes stains. Luckily, getting stains, especially fresh ones, out of a Sherpa fleece blanket is quite easy.

  • In most cases, all you need to do is put some dishwashing soap onto the shameless stain and let it stand for about 10 minutes.
  • Then, use wash the blanket using cold water and rinse it using cold water. Finally, hang the item out to dry. You can also tumble dry it on a low-heat setting.
  • Another way to get stains out of a Sherpa blanket is to pour a little baby powder onto the affected spot. Then, use your fingers to rub the powder into the stained area. Leave the rubbed-in powder to work its magic overnight. It should absorb the oily stain, giving the blanket a really nice look and smell.
  • To remove stubborn stains from a Sherpa blanket, spot-clean them. Simply apply a bit of gentle detergent and rub it in with your fingers. Don’t use any harsh chemicals or chlorine-based cleaners on the blanket if you want it to last. Next, spot-wash the stained area with cold water or even warm water.
  • Finally, use a hair dryer to dry up the spot-cleaned areas or air-dry the item.

How Do I Keep My Sherpa Blanket Soft and Fuzzy?

When new, all kinds of fuzzy blankets look nice, soft, and luxurious. But every time you wash them, some of the fibers end up matted. And the look isn’t too pleasant.

So, how do you keep your Sherpa blanket looking nearly as great as it did when it shipped in?

Here’s how to do it:

  • Wash the blanket and dry it up as described above. Then, grab a small brush with soft, plastic bristles. If the bristles aren’t soft enough, chances are you’ll snap the matted fibers.
  • How do you know if the brush is soft enough and therefore safe? If you can use the brush to get dander off your dog’s hair, then it is soft enough, and you can use it to fluff up a matted Sherpa blanket.
  • So, get down to business with that soft-thistle brush. Use gentle force to fluff up those matted fibers. It’s all manual work, and it’ll take a bit of time. But it’ll certainly restore your matted Sherpa blanket.
  • While at it, why not spray some Febreeze mixed with a half-spoonful of air conditioner? No Febreeze? No problem. Use water instead. Mix two cups of clean water with the hair conditioner and get this nice-smelling concoction into the now soft and fluffy blanket.

Sherpa Blanket FAQs

What is a Sherpa Blanket?

A Sherpa blanket is a type of fleece blanket made from mostly synthetic fibers and sometimes cotton. It was created in the 1980’s by an American company called Malden Millers Industries and it’s called Sherpa because the inspiration that birthed it came from the mountaineering culture of the Sherpa people of Nepal. One side of the blanket features velvet-like texture while the other side looks and feels like soft wool.

Why is it Called a Sherpa Blanket?

It’s called Sherpa after the Nepalese ethnic group that migrated from Tibet hundreds of years ago. This community wears wool-lined clothes, heat generators that help them endure the nastiness of Himalayan winters.

Is a Sherpa Blanket Warm?

Yes, a Sherpa blanket is really, really warm. It’s what you need to stay warm and cozy as you ride out the worst of the winter season.

Is a Sherpa Blanket Soft?

Yes, a Sherpa blanket is feather-soft and caresses the skin like no other. In fact, Sherpa blankets are softer than other kinds of fleece blankets. The brushed side of the fabric is extremely fuzzy and traps in body heat with great efficiency.

Can a Sherpa Blanket be Monogrammed?

Yes, it’s possible to personalize a Sherpa blanket with names and photos.  You can also personalize it even further with a monogram. Your creativity is the only limit to how much you can customize the item.

What’s the Difference Between a Sherpa and Fleece Blankets?

Fleece blankets can be used singly to make items such as gloves, winter coats, cold-weather jackets, and baby blankets versus Sherpa is usually used as a heat-trapping liner in baby blankets, gloves, toys, cold-weather jackets, and other items.

Fleece is sold in varying weights and thicknesses, and some fleece blankets can be really thin and light versus Sherpa blankets that come in reasonable thickness and weight. In terms of softness and warmth, both keep the wearer comfortably warm, but Sherpa is softer. Care-wise, both are relatively easy to care for, and stains are reasonably easy to get off. As for price, Sherpa-lined blankets and other items tend to be more expensive versus conventional fleece fabrics.

What is a Sherpa Blanket Made of?

A Sherpa blanket is made of mostly synthetic fibers such as polyester and acrylic and sometimes cotton that are brushed into a nice pile. After brushing, the fibers are crimped to give them that distinct, wooly look. It’s a lightweight knit fabric that looks and feels similar to sheepskin on one side and velvet on the other side.  

Is Sherpa Warmer Than Wool?

No, wool is warmer and offers tons of natural insulation. It’s wool’s excellent insulation properties that make it the preferred fabric for making winter coats for folks living in extremely cold climates. But it’s more expensive. Even worse, lamb and sheep have to suffer discomfort when humans are shearing them to obtain this natural fiber.

Final Thoughts About Sherpa Blankets

Sherpa blankets have become ultra-popular for a number of reasons. They’re lightweight and really warm without being too thick or too bulky. And while they’re pricier than many other kinds of fleece fabrics, they’re cheaper than wool.

They may not be the finest option for the harshest winters, but they help you endure cold nights and cooler months with confidence.

They’re exactly what you need for snuggling on the sofa watching a movie, reading a book, or just cuddling. And your baby will love you more for giving them better-quality sleep devoid of cold and sweat.

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