Fabrics for Survival!
Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below!
In this show, we will be looking at the science behind the phrase ‘cotton kills’ and will learn what fabrics work best in the wet and the cold. If you love those 50/50 shirts made from cotton-poly blends then I have bad news. They will still kill you, although it may take a little longer.
Listen to this broadcast or download “Fabrics for Survival” in this player!
We all love the feel of cotton and know it is a miracle fabric in warm weather that can keep us cool and comfortable. We also know that clothing keeps you warm by trapping warm air near your skin. However, when cotton gets wet, it ceases to insulate you because all of the air pockets in the fabric fill up with water. When you sweat, any cotton clothing touching your skin will absorb your sweat like a sponge. Cotton garments can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water, meaning they take a long time to dry out and they will cool your body in even moderate temperatures.
Next, we go through the Good (wool, polyester, and nylon), the Bad (cotton-polyester, corduroy, and denim), and the Cellulose (Rayon, Viscose, Tencel, Lyocell, Bamboo, and Silk). I will discuss the wicking properties of each and why they are so great or not. Here is a hint; the outer layer of each wool fiber is called an epicuticle. This coating repels water drops, preventing them from soaking through the fibers. The “crimp” or kinkiness of the wool fibers also builds dead air space into any wool garment, providing insulation even when wet. Polyester fibers do not absorb any water and Nylon absorbs very little. Both of these are used to make “fleece” insulating garments.
Also, you do not want to miss the argument I will get into with myself on the properties of silk. Join me on this show as we go through some science and understanding on what fabrics are best for the outdoors.