Waterproof Breathable Fabrics
I have been asked a lot about KUIU’s rain gear and how it compares to other brands in weight and performance. When researching rain gear it is really important to understand the different choices of waterproof breathable fabrics to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Below is some basic information that I hope will help you make the best choice for your type of hunting.
There are three categories of waterproof breathable fabrics, 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer fabrics. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. 2-layer & 2.5-layer fabrics are lighter in weight and less expensive. 3-layer fabrics are significantly more durable, will last longer and are much more dependable.
Two-layer fabrics essentially consist of gluing a laminate or coating to a lightweight face fabric thus forming a single fabric. You can identify 2-layer rain gear by looking at the inside of the garment; it will typically be white or light grey in color and smooth to the touch. Packlite is one example of a 2 layer waterproof breathable.
2.5 layer fabrics add a very thin protective film to the laminate of a 2-layer fabric to increase abrasion resistance and add some protection for the laminate. You can identify 2.5-layer fabrics by the printed grid pattern over the top of the laminate on the inside of a garment.
A 3-layer fabric is made up of a laminate sandwiched between a face fabric and inside or backer fabric. 3-layer fabrics are much more durable due to the two layers of fabric protecting the laminate creating added strength. 3-layer fabrics significantly decrease abrasion and punctured caused failures so often experienced in 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics. The downside to most 3-layer fabrics is cost, weight and the lack of stretch or no stretch if a garment is using a ePTFE like Gore-Tex or eVent.
Waterproof breathable laminates and coatings are very thin and fragile. Abrasion, stress and punctures can create tiny leakage channels. I have researched and tested 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics that have failed in less than an hour of field-testing.
We only recommend 3 layer fabric rain gear. Two layer rain gear should only be considered packable emergency rain gear. If you plan to spend any amount of time in your gear do not risk your life or your once in a lifetime hunt on rain gear you cannot count on.
My goal for KUIU was to develop a durable, four-way stretch, 3-layer fabric that would weigh as much as a 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear. I worked closely with Toray to successfully develop a fabric that is the foundation of lightest 3-layer rain gear available. The Chugach fabric uses Toray’s DermizaxEV a 4-way stretch laminate technology with an amazing 20,000/20,000 waterproof & breathability rating.
KUIU’s Chugach Jacket weighs in at only 17oz and the Chugach pant is a mere 13oz which are on par for 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear. We have Tested this gear for two seasons on Kodiak, which has a rich history of proving waterproof-breathable’s do not work, and did not had any failures.
I hope this information helps you better understand the fabric choices available in rain gear so you make the right decision for your hunt.