Understanding Modern Clothing Materials
What it is, what it does, benefits, why use, when use?
With a cornucopia of words to describe modern day materials used in our everyday and active outdoor clothing, there is a danger of them merely becoming a household name without an understanding of their purpose or technological function. Brilliant design, innovation and scientific experimenting have led to the continuous evolvement of materials making our garments widely suited to all weathers, situations, terrain and activities.
To try to help make sense of some of the terminology, we have compiled a brief explanation for you.
Gore-Tex is a word that we all grew up with and is synonymous with the meaning of rubber coated ‘waterproof’ raincoats! But what does it actually mean and how does it work?
Gore-Tex is a micro-porous membrane that stops water getting in but still lets water vapour out making it “breathable”. A Gore licence is required for each manufacturer to use a Gore-Tex membrane in their products thus ensuring a stamp of highest quality, examples of which are seen within brands such as Harkila, Laksen & Musto.
Gore-Tex membranes come in a range of specifications with all being waterproof and with different degrees of breathability allowing manufacturers to use different types depending on the use they plan for their product ie lower breathability for a winter product to allow the body to retain more of it’s heat and higher breathability for a summer product to allow more heat and vapour to be moved away from your body.
The measure of any membrane’s waterproofness is its waterhead which is normally stated in 1,000’s and equates to millimetres of water held in a column on top of the membrane. Thus if a membrane states it is 15,000 that means it can withstand 15,000mm (15m) of water without letting any through.
For breathability, the measure is how many grams of water vapour the membrane will let through it over a 24 hour period. Thus, if a membrane states it is 10,000 breathability then it will allow 10,000 grammes of vapour to pass through a square metre of its material in a 24 hour period.
Obviously, the higher the number denotes the greater waterproofness or breathability.
Ideal for hunting, shooting, fishing, outdoor pursuits such as hiking, sailing, the list is endless, Gore-Tex is highly tested, reliable and a vastly technologically enhanced material which will keep you dry, wind protected and warm meaning comfort for long days out in the field.
SEETEX membrane has been developed and is only used by manufacturer Seeland. This undergoes stringent testing of the same sort as Gore-Tex. Fully waterproof, windproof and breathable, Seetex does the same job as Gore-Tex.
CTX membrane has been developed and is used by Laksen. Tends to actually be much more breathable than the equivalent Gore-Tex membrane which makes it ideal for country sports activities where high breathability makes sure that you don’t overheat.
DWR is the abbreviation for Durable Water Resistent which is a treatment given to the outer fabric of many garments. In the early days, waterproofing was done by applying a wax to the outer material to keep the rain out. In modern waterproofs it is the membrane that keeps the water out. That means that the outer fabric needs to be treated with something to help ensure that water beads up and runs off the fabric to stop it “wetting out”. Anyone who wears an untreated tweed coat will know that it gets extremely heavy once the tweed has absorbed rain ie it has “wetted out”. DWR stops this happening keeping your garment lightweight giving you greater comfort and freedom of movement.
WINDSTOPPER products – do they do what they say? Made by Gore-Tex, they combine complete wind protection with outstanding breathability and are treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) which, although not waterproof, will withstand a light drizzle as the water droplets bead upon the surface and run off rather than be absorbed. Light and easy to wear, the Windstopper means less layers and bulky clothing making them ideal for being outdoors. WINDBEATER by Seeland does the same job.
Leather is a warm, durable and naturally breathable product. Buffalo leather is tough and used for a range within the Harkila gents clothing while the ladies collection uses the soft and light sheepskin.
Cordura is found in a range of products from jackets to footwear to fishing tubes. Cordura fibres are highly durable and lightweight making them ideal for tough areas of wear, resistant to abrasion and scuff and is used by most brands to reinforce their products key wear areas.
Again, a name synonomous with warmth and fleece but how does it work? Offering over 400 different Polar fabrics from Power Stretch, Thermal Pro, Wind Pro, Classic 100,200,400, Alpha, Power Shield and the new NeoShell, the Polartec world is thriving! Warmth and breathability are due to the combination of close knitted, fleece polyester ensuring insulation and a light feel and windproof material. Wear on its own or as a midlayer for complete protection.
Found in both clothing and footwear for incredible insulation and warmth, the latest Platinum version combines insulation with instant moisture transportation away from the skin working by wicking away damp to keep you dry and extremely comfortable. The finest microfibers within Thinsulate material mean that they will trap more air in less space thus giving you greater insulation. Works well with gloves, boots and jackets and is found in products from Hoggs of Fife, Seeland, Harkila etc
When DuPont were developing THERMOLITE they instinctively looked to our natural world and discovered that fur on polar bears contained an inordinate amount of tiny air pockets for incredible insulation thus, a new fabric was born. Not only an insulating material, THERMOLITE works on the basis that its low weight will offer extremely comfortable clothing to wear and a great freedom of movement. Made with ADVANSA engineered hollow-core fabrics that trap air for greater insulation, the wearer also stays drier as it dries 20% faster than other insulating fabrics and 50% faster than cotton, especially ideal for sock wear. Found in Harkila and Musto garments among others.
Warm, drier, softer and compressible, water resistant, ultra-fine, fibres make up PRIMALOFT material. Insulating air pockets, but also waterproof as the fibres create a tight shield when wet to resist the moisture, yet are incredibly warm at the same time to maintain a core body heat. Found in gilets, jackets and a multitude of products, PRIMALOFT is versatile, easily compressible for packing and lightweight to wear. See Harkila and Musto.
Offering superior moisture management due to the 4 channel fibres within COOLMAX which move perspiration away from the skin and through the fabric for quick evaporation. Garments and socks made from it offer long lasting comfort and are ideal for hiking, running and all manner of leisure activities. Found in Musto, Harkila and Hoggs of Fife footwear.
The material is treated with a thin layer of wax to make the surface softer and more water resistant as it repels water drops, is windproof and ultimately durable. Harkila jackets, Seeland, Musto are amongst many hunting and shooting jackets that are treated with wax for this waterproof, soft effect.
Hollow Fibre yarn
Hollow fibre technology is a collection of man-made fibres with air pockets within to provide heat insulation. A soft and light material, it is not found in outer materials but more used for socks or legging products.
Sourced from our natural world, Eco friendly fibres from Bamboo have been found to make for a highly breathable material that is resilient and durable as well as absorbing moisture thus ensuring a quick drying fabric. Ideal for all sorts of sportswear and shooting/hunting including socks, rash vests, shirts etc the bamboo fibres also have micro-antibacterial properties so banishing body odour and offer scent control. Harkila and Gul/Gil range offer many products with this innovative material.
The most understood and respected trademark within the wool world, this guarantees that the product is made from 100% pure wool, essential for warmth and insulation.
The finest and softest wool available, this intelligent wool offers all weather protection, keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when the temperature plummets making it ideal for active sportswear. Moisture management in the fibres which can absorb up to 35% of its dry weight to keep your body dry yet in cold weather the natural crimp in the wool ensures superior insulation. Biodegradable and renewable, it also can lock away odour molecules keeping the garment fresh even when actively exercising to be released when washing. A protective natural outer layer prevents stains. This is the ideal wool to layer, to maintain body temperature according to the weather and your level of activity. Found in Harkila, Laksen, Musto, Woolpower and House of Cheviot products amongst many others.
High quality wool, especially soft and warm, insulating, durable and dirt resistant used for warm jumpers, gilets, and ties.
Ensures climate control by combining natural and man-made fibres to create an insulating and moisture transporting wool based material to keep you both dry and warm.
Warm and soft, this Techwool is a combination of wool and polyester to create a crease-resistant material, both stronger and lighter than pure wool and ideally used for inner layering as it can quickly transport moisture away from the body.