Keeping warm and comfortable when you’re sitting inside is no problem at all. But try staying that comfortable when you get out into the elements and start really pushing your physical limits. To meet that challenge without getting sweaty, then wet, cold and shivery, you need breathable thermal insulation in your coat or jacket.

A fabric that works with your body

Any garment that is soft and warm will feel very comfortable to wear. But once your body temperature and perspiration start to respond to external conditions, the garment needs to be made of a fabric that can work with your body to provide optimum performance. However, an intensive research and development effort of some reputed organisations have finally resulted in the development of a material that could respond to all the challenges thrown at it by outdoor living.

First of all warmth. The fabric had to be able to prevent heat loss from your body in extremely cold conditions, and where wind chill was a factor. Secondly, breathable insulation. Breathability means the ability of a fabric to wick moisture away from your body so that you maintain your body temperature without sweating. Thirdly, softness. Who wants to wear a high-performance garment feeling like sandpaper?

One or two of these attributes are available in many fabrics. But delivering a combination of all three has taken a considerable research effort. The performance of the fabric has also been measured in terms of the speed in which moisture is taken away from the body and passed through the fabric to the outside. So, if it’s raining and you’re running, how quickly will your sweat be passed through your jacket and out to the air?

Understanding how fabrics breathe

The secret is in the difference between the humidity on the outside (the environment) and the humidity on the inside (your body). If you’re generating 80% humidity, and the humidity outside is 30%, the moisture on the inside will pass to the outside, but only if the fabric is breathable.

A series of small spaces within the insulating fabric hugely increase the breathability of the fabric, but still keep you warm. It’s all a function of the size of the spaces – they trap air to provide insulation but are large enough to dispel moisture through the fabric. They also have another great benefit – they allow four- way stretch, so the insulation can be used with high-tech modern performance fabrics.

Look more closely, and you’ll see that the fibres that make up the fabric have a shape that maximises insulation. The insulating fabric is lab tested to ensure that it really does what it claims, so that clothing manufacturers can incorporate it into their ranges knowing that it will perform as promised. Wind tunnels and water vapour tests are conducted with one aim – keeping you warm, dry and comfortable. Click here to know more.