Felt vs Wool Saddle Pads: A Comparison of Performance and Comfort

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 12/26/22 •  8 min read

We have been using a wide variety of saddle pads for English and Western saddles on many occasions. But on the choice of saddle pad material, every rider has different opinions. 

Some still like old fashion standard fleece, and some like saddle blankets but here we are looking forward to discussing the most controversial topic among saddle pads, felt vs wool saddles.

Some say, the fleece saddle pad and wool saddle pad are the same, but the wool saddle pad is definitely lighter and more comfortable than fleece. 

Fleece saddles use synthetic material and cotton mostly. And surely fleece pads are less costly than both felt and wool saddle pads.

Even though there are 15 grades of felt in the felt industry, most saddle pads are made of F15 grade that looks exactly like the commonly felt saddle we get, a black charcoal look. But the funny thing is even this felt saddle pad uses 55% of virgin wool and 45% of reworked wool content. So, let’s come out with all the confusion you have and find out the differences between felt and wool saddle pads.

Learn the difference between felt and wool saddle pads

Difference between felt and wool saddle pad

Here we’ll discuss the felt and wool saddle pad. This is how the differences between them will be visible to us. Also, you guys will have an idea about all-purpose saddle pads as both felt and wool saddle pad don’t meet all the criteria a rider and horse require.


Primary materials used in felt saddle pads are mostly synthetic felts, open and closed-cell foam, needled felts, woven blankets, pressed industrial felts, etc. 

In contrast, wool saddle pads have fibers from sheep and animals. That’s why a wool saddle pad is lighter.


Because felt saddles are mostly made of synthetic materials, their thickness is much greater than that of a wool saddle pad. It feels reasonably comfortable to sit on a felt saddle, but the felt saddle pad slips from the horse’s back sometimes. 

Wool saddle pads are less thick, if you want a thicker wool saddle pad, they will make it for you, but traditionally they are less thick.


It’s understandable when those felt saddle pads have pretty low breathability because the foam is more than 2 inches thick and has no chance of passing the air through it because it’s almost a sliding thing. 

For a wool saddle pad, we know natural fibers have more moisture-absorbing ability and are very breathable. As air passes through the wool saddle pads, a horse’s back always stays cool. 

Durability, washability, and cost

Both of them are durable, in fact, durability depends on the users. If you don’t clean the saddle pad regularly after use and dry it in the sun, it may lose some durability. So, both a felt and a wool saddle are almost equally durable.

Washing a felt saddle pad is much easier than washing a wool saddle pad. You can simply apply a brush and rub on felt saddle pads, but wool saddle pads need to be washed with proper treatment to maintain their longevity.

Price is unsurprising; natural fiber items are always more expensive. Felt saddle pads are cheaper than wool saddle pads. Yes, there are many felt saddle pads, that cost more than wool, because they look premium and have many other different features.

Different saddle pads

Different saddle pads

Here we would like to discuss the different kinds of saddle pads like some are felt and wool and some are very different from felt and wool. Also, some are made of a combination of both felt and wool. Let’s see them:

Felt saddle pad

The saddle pads a horseman used to know two hundred years ago the idea as totally changed now and today’s felt saddle pad is totally industry quality. So much research has been on saddle bad for the last 50 years and now the felt saddle pad we see is for ensuring horse comfortability first and perfect fit.

Wool felt saddle pad

If you are looking for the felt vs boiled wool saddle pad difference, then the wool felt saddle pad is something to show you the differences. Normally this saddle pad is made of compressed wool and maintains a thickness of 0.5 inches to 1 inch.

Wool-felt saddle pads can absorb three times more moisture from horses’ bodies. So, it keeps the horse a bit cool. Also dissipates heat evenly. But it is expensive and doesn’t have much impact like the F15 foam-made wool saddle pad.

Needled felt saddle pad

Easy to spot as the high concentration of synthetic material makes it shiny, slippery, and quite a bit hard. Most of the neoprene pads are needled felt saddle pads.

Pressed felt saddle pad

This kind of industrial felt saddle pad has no holes, is soft and supple, and doesn’t use any shiny synthetic material. The pad’s color is dark grey and the modern felt saddle pads are mostly pressed felt saddle pads.

Wool saddle pad

Already told you Fleece vs wool saddle pad has non-many differences, just the fleece saddle may use fabric, cotton, or cushioning while a wool saddle pad uses wool from animals directly.

Now questions arise, how come wool saddle pads look so compressed? Because the wool is steam-pressed which is required for an optimum fit to ensure the saddle stays in the right place. 

Wool saddle pads are more comfortable and collect more moisture than felt saddle pads. But in terms of tackling the impact, wool pads are behind the felt saddle pad.

wool pads

Are wool or felt saddle pads better?

It depends on what you want, otherwise only one would be the best one among all kinds of saddle pads and blankets. Let’s talk about the features of felt and wool saddle pads that are required for riding on the horse and the horse’s comfort.

How much do they fit?

Felt saddle pads are rigid and lightweight. Yeah, it doesn’t fit the horse’s back at first, but using it under the saddle over and over will make it the best fit for your horse. 

On the contrary, the wool saddle pad is softer and fits exactly on horseback. But if it gets damaged, repairing the wool pad will do no good.

Moisture absorbing ability

As we know horseback sweat a lot and that’s why we use saddle blankets or saddle pads to keep the leather saddle safe from sweat. The felt saddle doesn’t dissipate heat from horseback evenly into the saddle pad and some felt saddles deflect the heat. The heat stays in the center or where the pad touches the horseback mostly.

In contrast, a wool saddle pad absorbs the moisture from horseback and dissipates the heat evenly throughout the pad.

Purpose of use

If you go for a long-distance ride with a horse and surely your horse is going to sweat a lot, in this case, the wool saddle pad ensures better comfort for the horse. 

But the Wool felt saddle pad, which is made of boiled compressed wool, doesn’t do the same job compared to the foam or synthetic made felt saddle pad.

When you do tricks and skills with your horse and the saddle needs to tolerate the impact of the shake or bounce, in this case, the felt saddle pad does a better job and absorbs the shock well.

So, now you know from different angles, both felt and wool saddle pads have different things to offer. You can’t better any of them simply.

What saddle pad keeps a horse coolest?

Definitely, a wool saddle pad absorbs the sweat and dissipates the heat. So definitely it keeps a horse cool. But the more it absorbs sweat, the more it feels uncomfortable for the horse. Because the more it absorbs water, the more it hugs the horseback and it feels breathless to a horse.

But the felt saddle pad can’t spread the heat evenly and doesn’t absorb much sweat. Still, that never completely hugs the horse’s back, so air comes into contact with the horse’s back. Even though the wool pads are cooler, both ensure comfort in different manners.


Are wool or felt saddle pads better?

Both are better just like Felt cinch vs neoprene. Felt saddle pads prevent pressure points. It absorbs shocks and impacts. When a Wool saddle pad can’t prevent or reduce shock but keep the horseback cool.

What material is best for a saddle pad?

Both wool and felt are better for different kinds of purposes. But the wool felt saddle pad, which is more right than the normal wool saddle pad is better and fulfills the purposes of both wool and felt saddle.

What’s our opinion?

So far, we have tried to inform you of all the aspects of wool and felt saddle pads. But wool saddle pads definitely cost more than saddle pads and slips from horseback. But the Felt saddle pad doesn’t collapse. Also cleaning the saddle pad and saddle blanket is a major issue.

Wool saddle absorbs more sweat and the tent attracts dirt, sticks, and burrs. So the wool saddle pad is tough to clean.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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