Re: Supply Division Wish List (cotton versus polyester fleece)
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 13:10:40 -0700
I would have to respectfully disagree with Hank. Cotton may be a good
insulator when it is not wet, but when it is wet, it absorbs moisture to a
far greater degree than polyester fiber which is why polyester was chosen
for the fleece rather than cotton. When cotton is wet, it has virtually no
insulating value whereas wool and polyester will still insulate when wet.
This is supported by considerable research and is primarily why synthetic
fabrics such as polarfleece were developed.
Most high altitude mountain
climbing expeditions also are using fleece to replace down for this very
reason. It is axiomatic that insulating fabrics will become wet due to
perspiration or environmental exposure, so those which only minimally
absorb and hold moisture are by definition preferable to those that
excessively absorb and hold moisture (i.e. cotton).
To give you an idea
of how much water cotton absorbs, take a cotton garment such as jeans,
weigh it when dry, throw it in the washing machine then weigh it again
after it comes out of the spin dry cycle; do the same thing with a
polyester fleece garment; you will notice
a significant difference in the water retention of the two fabrics.
The evaporative process from wet
cotton consumes body heat at a substantial rate and contributes directly
to hypothermia. To demonsrate this phenomenon, you can take a pair of
cotton jeans and a polyester fleece fabric, saturate them both and set a
fan in front of them with a thermometer attached to each. The net result
will be that the jeans will take far longer to dry and the
evaporative cooling will reduce the ambient temperature shown by the
thermometer attached to cotton jeans, far more than the polyester which
will dry much more quickly and still insulate even when wet.
And from personal experience, I can tell you that I have been far warmer
wearing fleece in cold/wet camping experiences than I have when previously
wearing cotton before fleece was available.
As far as cotton socks are concerned, as I have noted in other posts, they
are absolutely the *worst* fabric for directly causing blistering. When
wet they cause friction blisters due to rubbing. Wicking fabrics such as
polypropylene and/or high bulk acrylic such as those made by Thorlo are
vastly superior to cotton socks, and much warmer in cold environments.
Thu, 19 Dec 1996, Hank Nest wrote:
> Cotton is bad for winter camping, eh?
> Fleece is great for staying warm on NON-PHYSICAL activities--when
> you won't be sweating into the material. Fleece (polyester) actually holds
> moisture to a greater degree than cotton, thus making you colder.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City