Technical Glossary Fabrics
T he shell fabric of insulated clothing must compliment the insulation to prevent heat loss. The ideal shell fabric would:
  • Minimise water entry - to help keep the insulation dry, and minimise conductive heat loss
  • Be windproof - to cut wind-chill by maintaining the dead air pockets in the insulation
  • Be breathable - to prevent condensation from body moisture
  • Be "downproof" - a tightly woven shell fabric will prevent down from leaking out

The most common shell materials are nylon, polyester, and Teflon laminates. Nylon and polyester are windproof, breathable, and downproof. They have the added bonus of being light, stuffable, and relatively inexpensive. Teflon laminates (like Gore-Tex and Dry-Loft) are more weather resistant, but also bulkier and more expensive. Denier is a measure of density of weave in threads per unit measure. Thus the higher the "denier" of material, the more densely it is woven. As a general rule, the higher the denier, the more durable the fabric is.

See Also: Insulation and Construction Technologies.



Reinforcement Fabrics

Cordura Cordura nylon is legendary for its strength and abrasion resistance. When sanded, the surface feels like a very soft canvas, but it has many times the durability.

Drilon A nylon/polyester blend that is densely spun for durability in the roughest of conditions.

Nylon Ambush This incredibly durable fabric made with Cordura and 3-ply yarns has a soft hand suitable for lighter weight applications.

Nylon oxford 3-ply Used as reinforcement where strength and abrasion resistance are important.

Nylon Senior Ballistics Developed for luggage, this is the most abrasion- and cut-resistant fabric available.

Nylon supplex taslan Incredibly strong and durable due to the 2-ply yarn, with a soft and flexible hand appropriate for combining with lightweight fabrics.

Polyester oxford 2-layer Gore-Tex Waterproof and highly tear- and abrasion-resistant 2-ply yarns in both directions provide superior protection to vulnerable areas.The use of 150D 2-ply yarn in the fill direction makes this an even tougher and more abrasion resistant reinforcement fabric.

Spandura The cordura yarns combined with Lycra result in an incredibly durable and resilient knit.

Shell Fabrics

DryMax Pique® high-performance polyester microdenier fiber; the pique knit gives this fabric a soft, cottony feel and look with incredible wicking capabilities.

Entrant Toray's waterproof/breathable polyester and nylon fabrics made with a coating of structure that incorporates two different microporous layers; for outerwear and activewear.

HDT® Micro fiber nylon treated with DWR provides a soft hand and water repellent finish with tough as nails durability.

IllumiNite A revolutionary reflective fabric. It is reflective over its entire surface. It is lightweight, wind and water resistant, and breathable. It's 30 candle power reflectivity enhances the visibility of the entire person.

Nylon microfiber ripstop Microfiber yarns in the fill direction result in a tightly woven, lightweight and compressible outer shell with impressive durability, water repellency, and wind resistance.

Nylon ripstop The 240 thread count, 40 denier ripstop is a fabric superior to many others on the market. It is a durable shell fabric which is also lightweight. The 2-ply grid threads result in an extremely tear-resistant yet highly breathable fabric. Calendering adds even more tear strength and reduces porosity of fabric to keep dust out.

Nylon ripstop 2-ply Gore-Tex® 70 denier ripstop is the best for combination of minimal weight and maximum tear strength. This is the lightest weight 2-ply fabric that Gore approves for rugged outerwear.

Nylon ripstop 3-ply Gore-Tex® The 3-ply Gore construction results in a more durable combination than a 2-ply/lining combination. This is the lightest weight 3-ply fabric that Gore approves for rugged outerwear. This 3-ply construction is lightweight and a super-soft alternate which is waterproof/ breathable. Used in conjunction with a 50 denier fabric, it provides the best combination of durability, softness of hand, and light weight. With no lining, the end garment is lighter weight and breathes more efficiently.

Nylon ripstop Gore DryLoft The lightest fabric Gore will approve for DryLoft, this tear-resistant combination of fabric and Gore laminate allows perspiration to escape and helps prevent down insulation from becoming wet from outside elements.

Nylon FTX 3-ply Gore-Tex® As one of the softest and quietest 3-ply Gore-Tex® fabrics on the market, our new FTX fabric is a real breakthrough for durable water repellency. Because of the unique nature of the false twist process, FTX captures and holds DWR more than twice as long as other nylons such as taslan, while the abrasion resistance remains equal. The tear resistance is an astounding 6K on the warp and 4K on the fill, significantly higher than even Supplex Taslan, the most durable similar fabric.

Nylon taffeta The high density 290 thread count provides a fabric that is downproof by construction, rather than processed, which results in a more breathable fabric.

Polyester 3-ply taslan 2-ply Gore-Tex® UV-resistant Gore-Tex® is often used as a uniform fabric by ski patrols because it stands up to the rigors of daily use. Polyester is used because of its superior natural UV resistance, color fastness and hydrophobic qualities

Polyester microfiber ripstop With the natural water repellency of polyester, tightly woven microfiber yarns result in an extremely soft-handed fabric that is downproof by construction, water resistant, windproof, and breathable. 1000 mm natural water resistance.

Polyester taffeta Naturally UV-resistant, polyester protects insulation from the suns weakening rays. The low moisture retention of a polyester shell (like Polarguard) will allow moisture to dry rapidly.

SealSkin® By Dupont. The key to this waterproof fabric lies in the remarkable interaction between three layers that make up every product. Each works in tandem with the others to create a watertight but breathable product. The middle layer is a Moisture Vapor Transpiration membrane. It allows perspiration to escape, but prevents water from entering. The innermost layer-either CoolMax@ or ThermaStat@-enhances that action by diffusing perspiration over a wide surface area so it can escape quickly.

Supplex by DuPont. Supplex is a soft,fine filament nylon that has the look and feel of cotton with the performance advantage of nylon. Water and wind resistant, breathable, and strong, Supplex dries quickly , it is difficult to tear, and is comfortably lightweight to wear.

Supplex nylon taslan 2-ply Gore-Tex® Soft-handed and flexible, yet incredibly abrasion resistant, durable, water repellent and breathable because of its densely packed fibers.

Triplepoint Ceramic by Lowe Alpine. A waterproof,breathable fabric where the coating hooks directly into the weave of the outer fabric so it can't peel off, even under heavy use. This coating prevents water droplets from penetrating the fabric, yet allows water vapour to escape. Extra cavities created by ceramic particles enhance the process.

Versatech® by Burlington . It is a nylon microfiber shell fabric that is windproof, breathable, and water resistant. The ultra dense weave will not allow wind to pass through, yet it will allow moisture vapor to escape. It is treated with a durable water repellent finish to give you water resistance without compromising breathablity.

Lining Fabrics

Nylon taffeta Used to line parts of the garment that are exposed to more abrasion than mesh can handle, or in areas where hydrophilic mesh would attract moisture from the outside such as the hem or cuff areas. This smooth, durable taffeta slips easily over mid-layers.

Polyester CoolMax® Mesh Moisture transporting channel shaped yarns and the loosely knit construction quickly move accumulated perspiration to the waterproof/breathable laminate where it can be transported away from the garment.

Polyester brushed tricot knit The hollow insulating fibers form a knit that is brushed on one side. The moisture-dispersing knit keeps your skin drier, warmer and more comfortable.

ThermaStat The hollow-fiber construction provides excellent warmth-to-weight efficiency and helps regulate the body temperature as well as the temperature of the bag or garment. Its superior wicking abilities move moisture away from the body to maintain a dry environment.

Polyester taffeta with Aqueduct wicking finish (Polarguard sleeping bag linings)- We've added a moisture wicking finish to the linings in our Polarguard HV and 3D bags. The durable finish helps to draw moisture over a large surface area so it can readily pass through the insulating layers, improving comfort and dryness inside the bag. 50D/36 x 75D/72,126 x 90 thread count, 1.5 oz. with Aqueduct wicking finish.

Nylon taffeta (Exposure, Vertigo, Ethereal hood, Stratus hood, Back Country arms, hip area and pant legs)- Used to line parts of the garment that are exposed to more abrasion than we feel mesh can handle, or in areas where hydrophilic mesh would attract moisture from the outside such as the hem or cuff areas. This smooth, durable taffeta slips easily over mid-layers. 70D, 112 x 98 thread count, 1.9 oz.

Polyester CoolMax® Mesh (Exposure, Vertigo) moisture transporting channel shaped yarns and the loosely knit construction quickly move accumulated perspiration to the waterproof/breathable laminate where it can be transported away from the garment. 50D, 2.3 oz., by DuPont.

Nylon taffeta (Nuts 'n' Bolts, Absolute Zero Parka and Suit) strong and smooth for easy layering, our taffeta lining is downproof by construction resulting in greater breathability than coated or calendered fabrics. 50D/40 x 50D/40, 175 x 105 thread count, 2 oz.

Polyester brushed tricot knit (Exposure, Sub Zero, Chill Factor and Nuts 'n' Bolts pockets)- The hollow insulating fibers form a knit that is brushed on one side. The moisture-dispersing knit keeps your skin drier, warmer and more comfortable. 60 denier, 5 oz.

ThermaStatCM (Chugach Jacket and Vest)- The hollow-fiber construction provides excellent warmth-to-weight efficiency and helps regulate the body temperature as well as the temperature of the bag or garment. Its superior wicking abilities move moisture away from the body to maintain a dry environment.