Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clothing terms

Lots of talk around about compression fabric, base layers, wicking, moisture transfer. All ideas that have been around a long time, so here's a few definitions :
Compression fabric - Increases circulation by compression of large muscle groups. Viable during and after exercise. Arteries carry oxygenated blood and red blood cells to feed your muscles, veins return de-oxygenated blood and waste products ( lactic acid ) back. The return trip is where the body needs the most help as there is lower pressure. Compression fabric helps with this circulatory challenge during activity, and can also help minimize the micro tears in muscle fibers caused by intense exercise.
Descente has a new compression tight coming this fall. The C6 Compession Tight $100
Base layer - Most use a "wicking" or "moisture transfer" type material. Why ? To get the sweat away from your skin and transported to the outside of the garment for evaporation. Too much sweat accumulation keeps you colder when it's cold and hotter when it's hot. Dry skin helps your body thermal regulate more efficiently. I wear Descente base layer almost all the time.
Antibacterial, antimicrobial - Important to reduce odor, germs, and to increase the longevity of a garment. Carbon, Silver, and some other synthetic fibers are used to create or enhance these properties. Usually found in jerseys and chamois.
Windtex or Windstopper - A coating found on lightweight shells or vests to help keep wind out. Has some breathability and some water repellency. Descente uses a windstopper that makes the garment very quiet in the wind. It's not as "crunchy" or "noisy" as some other windstoppers and feels better on.
DWR 2000 - Durable Water Repellency 2000. A coating applied to a light shell or vest for water repellency. Not water "proof" The test applied is 2000 ml of water is poured onto a cubic yard of the fabric stretched over a vise. No water can penetrate in 24 hrs to get this rating, which is considered water repellent.
5000 ml Waterproof membrane - This is a water proof garment. Same stretch test but with 5000 ml of water poured over the garment to get this rating. The Descente Element jacket gets this rating for a $160 retail price, pretty good actually, for this level of technology and waterproof-ness. Seams are usually not taped. Gore-Tex was one of the first "membranes" to be applied to a shell to get a waterproof and breathable fabric. If you have ever worn one of those clear PVC rain jackets you know why breathability is important. There are many copies and knock offs of Gore-Tex type membranes currently being produced and sold under various trademarked brand names.
10,000 ml waterproof - same test but with 10,000 ml of water. This would be a ski level garment you might see from Arcteryx or Northface. The seams would also be taped for total waterproof rating.
Wool - Still a great natural way to make a garment, although it's resurgence in poularity with the retro-grouch scene is driving cost up. Naturally anti microbial, anti bacterial, and wicking. Keeps you pretty warm even when wet. Must be coated with something to wear against the skin or it's very itchy. Dicey to wash unless your wife is in charge of the laundry. She will know about Woolite.
Flat lock stitch - That cool tech looking box stitch on your bibs. When bringing two pieces of fabric together a regular seam leaves a lip that can create chafing in sports wear and is undesirable. Look at the seam on your t-shirts or jeans, we don't want to ride with a seam like that for 3 hours. A flat lock stitch leaves no lip or border either inside or out. A contrasting color flat lock stitch can really highlight the look of a jersey or short.
Backed zipper - Some long sleeve full zip garments will have a flap over the zipper to help keep wind out. It really helps.
Zipper garage - A little place to tuck the zipper pull when you zip up. Usually on jackets, long sleeve jerseys.
That's it for now. There is so much good technical fabric out there that we can be warm and comfortable no matter what the conditions.

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