Choosing the face fabric for rain gear is as important as the laminate underneath. Face fabrics impact weight, breathability, durability, noise, bulk, dry times, cost and range of motion. There are two fabric categories for face fabrics, knits & woven’s. Below is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of the two most common fabric choices of each category:
– Soft hand feel
– Slow drying times
– Typically built as a 2 layer fabric, which requires a mesh liner to help protect the laminate and reduce the clammy feeling against the skin.
– Soft hand feel
– Collects burrs
-Poor abrasion resistance
-Heavy when bonded to a laminate
– Very durable
– High abrasion resistance
– Hydrophobic-does not hold water
– Fast dry times
– Difficult to print
– Reasonable abrasion resistance
– Easy to print
– Quieter than nylon
– Hydrophobic- quick drying
– Not as durable when compared to Nylon
– Higher quality fabrics can be expensive
– Noisy compared to knits
Waterproof/breathable fabric manufactures have focused technology advancements on decreasing weight while increasing breathability and durability for the Outdoor Industry. There have not been any significant advancements in quiet rain gear since the early 1990’s when lofted knit fabrics were bonded to a laminate like Cabela’s MTO50.
For backcountry hunting, lofted knit face fabrics add weight and bulk to a layering system. Plus, once soaked it is very slow to dry. On extended hunts in Alaska or BC this type of rain gear can stay wet the entire trip making it heavy to pack and uncomfortable to wear.
My goal for KUIU is to find the best balance where weight, packability, breathability, waterproofness, noise, 4-way stretch and dry-times work together. In my opinion lofted knit face fabrics, while the quietest choice, sacrifice too much performance for backcountry hunts. I strongly believe a 4-way stretch polyester face fabric will allow KUIU rain gear to best meet all the performance requirements that we have defined.
I look forward to hearing your opinion.