Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Italian Army Wool Officer's Blanket vs Regular Italian Army Wool Blanket

Left: Italian Army Officer's Wool Blanket. Right: Standard Italian Army Wool Blanket (the dark black markings on both blankets are faded maker's marks) Photo: ©2018 Rocky Mountain Bushcraft

Bushcrafters LOVE wool blankets for their versatility in the field. One of the blankets they particularly like for this role are the surplus Italian Army Wool Blankets.

The Italian Army Blankets were available for many years from surplus stores for dirt cheap prices ($10 a piece in some cases). Weighing in at roughly 5 to 5 1/2 lbs, constructed of 100% wool, tightly woven, and built like a tank, they work great as a general purpose field blanket.

The Italian Army Standard Wool Blankets in use circa 1985:

Unfortunately, the supply of these blankets, like most quality military wool blankets, has dried up over the years and have become more difficult to find. The Italian Army blankets in particular have become highly sought after, fetching upwards of $100 to $200 per blanket on eBay and online forums.

As rare as the Italian Army Wool Blankets are, the Officer's version of Italian Army Wool Blanket is even more more difficult to find.

The Officer's Blanket has a distinctive star on it (see main photo above), is generally lighter in color, is longer than the standard army blanket by 10" to 15", and noticeably heavier. Dimensionally, my one Officer's blanket is 96" X 67", and the other is 98" X 66". How much heavier are these  blankets? One weighs 7lbs 12oz, and the other is 7lbs 14oz. That's nearly 8lbs of pure wool! 

By way of comparison, a large 4 point Hudson Bay Wool Blanket generally weighs 6 to 6 1/2 lbs:

Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2018

So the Italian Officer's Wool Blanket, at 1 1/2 to almost 2lbs heavier, is one serious field blanket!

Despite its weight, the Officer's blanket actually packs down much smaller than a Hudson Bay because of its dense, tightly woven construction. To give you an idea of just how small it will pack down, here is one of my Officer's Blankets next to a smallish 100% Wool USGI Army Blanket:

 Left: Italian Army Officer's Wool Blanket. Right: USGI 100% Wool Blanket
Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2018

That's a seriously small package for nearly 8lbs of wool! My rolled up Hudson Bay blanket is twice this size. 

As cool as these Officer's blankets are, they are extremely rare unfortunately. In fact, they are so rare that I could hardly find any information about them, even on bushcrafting forums. 

Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2018

To add to the confusion, it seems that a lot of people think that the regular Italian Army Wool Blanket is actually the Officer's model. As you can see from the main photo and from the differences in their size and weight, they are actually quite different. 

Hopefully, this post will help clarify these differences in case someone should run into one of them at a yard sale, estate sale, online, etc.

If you happen to own one and can add to this information, please leave a comment below. 



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