The materials chosen for any clothing or equipment used for outdoor activities are vital. Designers choose the materials to make the items suitable for their purpose. Some considerations when choosing materials are if it is warm, whether it is waterproof, and if it is durable. A common material used for outdoors gear is polyester and this is something you will find in everything from clothing to tents, and from sleeping bags to backpacks. When choosing the best products, it is important to think about whether ones made from polyester are the most suitable option. A common query is does polyester keep you warm? Here we look at the qualities of polyester in comparison to other materials.
Does Polyester Keep You Warm?
One of the main reasons why clothing and outdoor products are made from or include polyester is that it keeps you warm. Polyester does not wick the moisture and perspiration. The tight weave of the fabric also keeps the heat trapped inside. Therefore, it will keep you warmer for longer. It is for this reason that polyester is used on many outdoor products or equipment and as one of the main materials in clothing for the outdoors.
However, the fact that one of the main qualities of polyester is heat retention means that it is not a breathable material. While this makes it good for outdoors products and the outer layer of clothing, it is not the best option for the inner layer of clothing. For this reason, many items of clothing are made using a mix of polyester and another fabric that has breathable qualities. Combinations such as cotton and polyester are sometimes used to give clothing breathability while also retaining the heat.
Is Polyester Waterproof?
When enjoying outdoor activities, protection from the elements is important. For this reason, many items are waterproof or water resistant. You may see that many outdoor products are made using polyester, thus assuming this material is waterproof. However, this is not the case as polyester is merely water-resistant.
For a fabric to earn a waterproof label, it is so tightly woven that no water can enter the fabric at all, even at the seams. To achieve this is a difficult task and is usually done using a technique called ultrasonic welding. This is an expensive process that is only used on items that are 100% waterproof.
Polyester is a fabric that has a high level of water resistance. It is one of the most common water-resistant fabrics used. The other common material used for water resistance is nylon. Although these materials are not officially waterproof, they are known as ‘everyday waterproof’.
This means that both polyester and nylon offer a high level of water resistance that will prevent water from entering the material in common situations, such as during heavy rain or snow. However, it would not protect against water if it was submerged in water for a prolonged period.
Therefore, polyester provides enough water resistance for use in both clothes and outdoor gear. Although it is not officially classed as waterproof, it is a material that most would consider as waterproof and it is suitable for outdoors gear.
Polyester vs. Cotton
Two of the most common materials you will see used in both clothing and for outdoor gear are polyester and cotton. While polyester is a synthetic material, cotton is a natural fabric made from cotton plants. Both these fabrics have different qualities that make them suitable for different uses.
The main advantage that cotton has over polyester is that it is a breathable material. The tight weave of polyester means that it is warm but not breathable. While polyester is at a disadvantage in the breathability stakes, it is this quality that means polyester keeps you warm.
Cotton is also a soft but strong fabric that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. However, polyester is longer lasting than cotton as it is a synthetic fiber that is not biodegradable like cotton.
Polyester is the better option for materials that are exposed to the elements as it is water-resistant. On the other hand, cotton is a highly absorbent fabric that will soak in any moisture. Polyester also dries quickly as any moisture lies on the surface. Cotton takes a long time to dry as it has absorbed this moisture.
Considering these pros and cons, polyester is the best fabric for outdoor clothing and gear. The main advantages it has over cotton is its water resistance,its ability to keep you warm, and the fact that it is long-lasting.
Cotton and polyester are sometimes used together to create a fabric called polycotton. This gives the advantages of both materials and is often used in clothing. It is water-resistant and keeps you warm but is still breathable. It is also strong, it will not shrink, and it is an affordable material.
Wool vs. Polyester
Wool is another material that you will commonly see in clothing and outdoor gear. Again, this has its pros and cons in comparison to polyester that means it is good for some purposes and not for others.
Wool is the best option for keeping you warm as it is a good insulator. It is for this reason that coats are often lined with wool. It is also the reason hikers and backpackers often wear wool socks, hats, and gloves in freezing conditions. In terms of insulation, wool is far superior to both cotton and polyester.
The fibers of wool are soft and this makes it a good option for clothing as the fabric feels nice against the skin. As the fibers have elasticity, it is also a strong and durable material. However, just like cotton, wool is biodegradable. By comparison, polyester has a much longer lifespan.
There are two main disadvantages of using wool for outdoor gear. The first is that wool fabrics will absorb water, so they offer no protection from wet conditions. Secondly, wool is an expensive material in comparison to cotton and polyester.
This is where polyester has the advantage over wool. It is an affordable material that offers a good level of water-resistance making it an ideal option for outdoor gear.
Which is the Best Fabric for Cold Weather?
Which is the best fabric for cold weather depends on how the fabric is used. Each has qualities that are suitable for specific purposes, while also being poor for other purposes.
For clothing, wool is the warmest option. However, its lack of water resistance means it is a bad choice for outdoor gear. It is better suited for use in the lining of jackets. The superior level of insulation it offers makes it the ideal choice for hats, socks, and gloves as keeping your extremities warm in cold weather. Wool is also good for the inside of sleeping bags.
Cotton is the worst fabric for cold weather. Cotton has many uses because it is cheap, breathable, strong, and lightweight. It is fantastic for everyday clothing and an excellent choice for bedding. However, its poor water-resistance and lack of insulating qualities make this a poor choice for outdoor activities.
Polyester is the middle ground between the two. While it does not offer the same level of insulation as wool, polyester is warmer than cotton and much better at keeping you warm. It is also far cheaper than wool, so products made from this synthetic material are less expensive.
It is the water resistance of polyester that is the main reason that polyester is used for clothing and equipment that you will wear or use in the cold weather. During the colder months, there is an increased chance of rain. Therefore, it is important that manufacturers use a fabric that will not only keep you warm but will also offer water resistance. Polyester is such a popular choice as it meets these criteria as polyester keeps you warm and dry.
It is worth noting that many items use all three materials to take advantage of the qualities of each. For example. A sleeping bag or winter jacket may have a wool lining to keep you warm and a polycotton mix fabric on the outer layer for water-resistance and breathability. It is common to see different fabrics used for different parts of clothing or equipment in this way.
All fabrics are suitable for different purposes as they each have different qualities. Although wool is the best insulating fabric, it is not the best option for clothing and equipment used for outdoor activities in the colder weather. The overall best option is polyester as not only does this keep you warm, its qualities give many other benefits for cold and wet weather. However, it is important to note that both cotton and wool have qualities that work well in various aspects of clothing and equipment. Therefore, it should not surprise you if you find that the clothing or gear you buy has a mix of these materials.
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