Insulations–Lightweight & Comfortable
for Cold Weather Wear
By Kathlyn Swantko
Thermal comfort in apparel typically depends on the wearers' layering of various fabrics, external climate conditions, and the physical activity that is undertaken. The right cold-weather gear is lightweight and maintains comfort, creating a microclimate around the body that aids in performance and improves safety.
An understanding of the mechanisms of heat exchange through clothing is necessary to design the most effective clothing for extreme temperatures. The thermal insulation for the wearer is dependent on three layers: 1) a next-to-skin layer, which has the role of getting rid of sweat and prevent sweat remaining on the skin; 2) a breathable closely-knit or closely-woven outer layer used as a wind-breaker. This layer should be a thin fabric, and the ideal textile is an impermeable layer that also stops water droplets, while allowing the passage of water vapor to remove the evaporated sweat; and 3) between the inner layer and the wind-breaking outer layer, there is an insulation layer that traps the air.
The FabricLink Network highlights several new technical developments in insulations showcased at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019.
HeiQ launched its HeiQ XReflex, a radiant barrier technology for high performance fabrics that create warmth without bulk and allow the user to "Wear Less in Winter®". This innovative radiant barrier technology allows outerwear, midlayers, sleeping bags, etc. to maintain the required level of warmth, while reducing bulk.
With an ultra-thin reflective surface applied through a high-tech vapor deposition process, HeiQ XReflex reflects the body's radiant heat, increasing the thermal resistance and allowing maximum breathability. Matched with a specific insulation, this combination creates the optimal heat retention required for the product. By using one layer of HeiQ XReflex, a saving of 25% in bulk can be expected. With two layers, the bulk can be reduced by up to 50%, while maintaining the same level of thermal resistance. "Warmth without bulk is the best of both worlds for the active consumer", says Christian von Uthmann, chief sales officer at HeiQ Materials AG. "This technology reduces insulation bulk to create thin, lightweight, breathable products."
Polartec, the producer of innovative textile solutions and insulations, introduced its Polartec Eco-Engineering™ to set new standards for sustainable textiles. The Eco-Engineering™ initiative covers a variety of textile solutions, including the world's first fully recycled and biodegradable fleeces and breathable waterproof membranes, as well as other knits and insulation fills.
Joining Polartec are other industry pioneers, Unifi and Intrinsic Advanced Materials, combining Intrinsic Advanced Material's revolutionary CiCLO® technology with Unifi's innovative yarn products to promote biodegradation of polyester and nylon, as well as applications in polyurethane, in sea water and landfill conditions. The collaboration is an extension of Polartec Eco-Engineering™, a process that deploys recycled inputs, advanced production techniques, logistical efficiency, and rigorous testing and certifications to create an unrivaled innovation pipeline devoted to producing sustainable fabrics with elite performance characteristics. This includes OEKO-TEX® and bluesign® certification across all Polartec facilities worldwide. The Polartec Eco-Engineering™ effort seeks to set a new, higher 'triple bottom line' standard for the textile industry that includes fully recycled inputs, fully recyclable fabrics, and complete biodegradability.
Thermetrics, the designer and manufacturer of a wide range of advanced test instruments for measuring and evaluating the thermal characteristics of textiles, garments, and dynamic thermal environments, announced a new solution for evaluating and testing many of the new insulations and fabric developments available in the market.
The GENIUS of ANDI is Thermetric's new 35-zone sweating thermal manikin that joins its other thermal manikins that have been developed with the innovative features necessary for advanced thermal comfort research. Performance features exclusive to ANDI include Active Cooling and Dynamic Heat Flux Sensing (DHS). ANDI has the unrivaled ability to measure both positive and negative heat flux (heat loss and heat gain) and to respond to changing environmental conditions with unprecedented speed and accuracy. This versatile research tool takes the simulation of human physiology to a new level of sophistication. ANDI can predict the thermal comfort of sport performance and cold weather apparel, uniforms, sleeping bags, protective clothing, climate control systems, and more.