FAQ: Fabrics

FAQ: Fabrics

Some more infos about different Fabric:

Antimicrobrial treatment - A feature becoming more common on base layers. Such garments are treated with a chemical that stunts bacterial growth and reduces the smell that comes from extended wear between washings.

CoolMax - From DuPont. A family of performance fabrics that wicks moisture away from the skin and accelerates evaporation, keeping the body dry and comfortable. CoolMax is durable, soft and retains color.

DWR - An acronym for "durable water-repellent" finish. This is a coating found on most waterproof/breathable and water-resistant shells and pants. Because it is on the outside of the jacket or pants, it is your first defense against water - causing moisture to bead before it can soak into the garment.

Fleece - Fleece is a modern version of pile. Unlike pile, which is mechanically sheared, fleece is knitted from loops of fabric. Most fleece is made of nylon or polyester. Fleece is generally denser than pile, with a softer finish. Fleeces also tend to weigh less. Much of the newer fleece has built-in water repellency, so it sheds light dustings of snow and water quickly. Fleece comes in different weights - the lighter weights for mild conditions, and the heavier weights for cold weather.

Gore-Tex - Made by W.L. Gore & Associates, this is a waterproof, breathable and windproof membrane that is laminated with other fabrics to create jackets, pants, hats, bivouac bags and gloves. It is available in two- and three-layer laminates.

Laminate - A technique for making a fabric "sandwich" that is commonly used in waterproof-breathable garments. In laminated fabrics, the often-delicate waterproof-breathable barrier (such as Gore-Tex) is protected by a nylon or polyester face fabric on the outside. The inner layer of the barrier is protected by another layer of fabric (in a three-ply garment) or by a layer of mesh (two-ply).

Lycra - A material that provides stretch to garments made from nylon or polyester. The result commonly is called Spandex.

Micro fleece - This is a densely woven, velvet-like non-stretch microfiber that is soft and smooth against your skin. Micro fleeces don't always wick (some of the newer fabrics ARE made with wicking properties; check hang tags), but it makes for a terrific lightweight mid layer that takes up very little space in your pack.

Microfiber - Made by a variety of companies. Microfibers are generally made from nylon or polyester threads, with a dense weave (or knit). Tightly woven microfibers are often wind resistant. With a DWR coating, they can be very water-repellent as well.

Pile - Pile is made by punching short lengths of fabric through a base layer, then shearing and shaping the result. Most pile is made from polyester yarn, although nylon yarn is also used. Pile is rarely windproof and doesn't compress well, so it takes up more room in your pack than some of the newer fleeces or microfleeces. Pile can also pill (the appearance of tiny tufts of material on the fabric).

Polarguard - Manufactured by Kosa. This is a continuous-fiber filament designed to trap air to maintain warmth. Different versions of Polarguard (3D, HV) are used as insulation in sleeping bags, gloves, vests and jackets.

Polartec 200 and 300 - Made by Malden Mills, this is a knitted, double-sided fleece fabric that insulates by trapping body heat, while breathing sufficiently to allow body moisture to escape. The Polartec Bipolar series is a double-surfaced fabric with a highly durable wind-and-water-resistant outer surface that protects you from weather, and a shearling inner surface that traps heat and wicks moisture. Polartec 200 is a mid-weight fabric; Polartec 300 a heavyweight version.

Polypropylene - This fabric is a paraffin-based synthetic that dries quickly. It is generally very light weight, with high heat-retaining qualities. It also has excellent moisture transporting qualities.

Primaloft - A very fine polyester fabric used in sleeping bags, parkas and gloves. Primaloft is very soft, sheds water easily and has a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

Sympatex - Made by Akzo Nobel. One of the more commonly used waterproof- breathable membranes that can be laminated to almost any textile. This ultra-thin, non-porous polyester membrane is waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable. It comes as a direct insert, lining or three-ply laminate used in outerwear, footwear, gloves and accessories.

Windproof fleece - Windproof fleece was introduced to the market in the mid-1990s. An ultralight, windproof membrane is sandwiched between two layers of fleece (or pile), resulting in a lightweight, windproof garment.

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