Part 3 – Clothing Philosophy: Fabric Choice

January 31, 2011

The world is our oyster.  Starting fresh we were able to choose any material, not bound by current ranges and history. The short and the tall of the matter was SYNTHETICS.  In a country like New Zealand this is a dirty word, but put simply wool and merino wool doesn’t perform when the going gets tough. Merino is better than wool however they both take too long to dry. I have had considerable hunting and fishing experience in Merino and it simply does not dry fast enough compared to high quality synthetics. When you are exerting maximum energy your body will perspire faster than a breathable garment can transport the moisture.  This means the perspiration will soak into the prime layer and insulation layer.  The outer layer of the wool fibre does not absorb moisture however the internal core does, wool will hold 35% of its weight in water!  Also the ridges in the wool fibre allow the sweat molecules to stick to it.  Sweat molecules are sticky when they are in the liquid form.  The smoother the fibre the faster the garment will move moisture and therefore dry. Wool will help keep you warm if you get wet providing there is no wind, however you will be much warmer, more comfortable and safer if you are dry!

 

Our clothing range is designed to be worn in any configuration which sets it apart from other ranges; we call this System Wide CompatibilityTM or SWC. Why is SWC important? Because our temperatures vary dramatically, for example we can start the day at 0 degrees and by lunch time it can be 25 degrees. If you layer up with brushed tricot or merino as a prime layer then a fleece top and a windblock fleece top, when you start sweating your prime layer will become wet as it does not have the ability to wick and move the moisture through to the fleece then out to the windblock outer layer. What this means is that these layers are not compatible with the other layers. Both merino and brushed tricot work well when worn as a layer that is exposed to the atmosphere because they are not restricted by the garments on top. In the Hunters Element System every layer must be compatible with every other layer so you are not buying garments with a limited use.

Is brushed tricot suitable for a Barrier Layer?

The most honest answer I can give is kind of. Not really much of an answer but I will give you the reasons for this. If you want a serious wet weather garment then you need a fabric that is preferably a woven fabric with a shorter nap, brushed tricot does not fulfill these requirements. Brushed tricot is great until it gets wet… it can hold 2 times its weight in water and takes forever to dry.  If you are wanting something for light showers and keeping out the wind then it is fine however it is still very bulky which is not ideal.

The brushed suede finish of the fabric makes it difficult to get a DWR (Durable Water Repellant – helps the water to bead off the outer fabric) to perform effectively.  When the outer fabric is wet it slows the jackets breathability making your Prime and Insulation layers soak up the perspiration until the outer dries, it also makes the jacket heavy. We have discontinued all brushed tricot raincoats except for the All Rounder Jacket. The only reason we offer this is because there will be a cross over period where some hunters will want to stick with what they know rather than something new and innovative.

An important point to note is that a raincoat is to keep you dry when it is raining, a raincoat should not be worn as your main hunting garment as when you have encounters with prickle bushes you can puncture holes in the membrane making it leak!

Are we using fleece in our system?

Yes however the fleeces we are using are not your conventional style of fleece. There are many different grades and styles of fleece that have different functions. I am talking about more than the normal fleece and windblock fleece which is common place now. We are using fleeces that wick moisture,  dry faster and have a higher loft which makes them warmer for the weight and bulk. Why do you want to carry big and bulky garments when you can achieve more from a new higher performing product. Low price fleece simply doesn’t last long and is mediocre in performance and function. However like everything it’s not expensive so you’re not expecting much, right?

We use fleece for our Furnace Insulation Layer and in selected Barrier Layer garments. Fleece is not suitable to be worn as a Prime/next to skin layer as it is hydrophobic (does not hold water). This means that when you’re really pushing it and perspiring, your body gets wet and sweaty and the fleece stays dry. What you need is a prime layer that moves this moisture away from your body then through your fleece mid layer, hence the reason to layer correctly.  Fleeces with a DWR treatment applied to them will not wick moisure, they repel moisture. A DWR is great for a rain coat or Barrier Layer garment outer but is not suitable for a mid layer.  An ideal mid layer should wick moisture from the inside to the outside.

 

A word of warning here is don’t get fleece and brushed tricot mixed up. Fleece is hydrophobic (does not hold water) where as brushed tricot is hydrophilic (loves water). There are many garments particularly of the wind block variety that have brushed tricot on the outside. These garments look like fleece but are actually fleece lined with a brushed tricot outer and they do not have the same performance as quality fleece.

To sum it all up, we could have offered any of these existing fabrics; however we are committed to taking hunting clothing to the next level. We want to help make your hunting experience as comfortable and as safe as possible.

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