Waterproof technology has remained about the same since the very first hard shell. Breathability is achieved through diffusion: moisture and heat create enough pressure that moisture vapor finally passes through the fabric. Soft shells trade waterproofness for greater breathability by making use of convection: a constant exchange of air allows more moisture vapor to escape. Now, Polartec® NeoShell® delivers the best of both worlds. Its exclusive membrane allows air to pull moisture vapor out – even at extremely low levels of pressure. So it helps keep you drier during high-exertion activities. Polartec® NeoShell® is the first-ever fabric to enable peak performance in any condition. It’s time to be liberated.
- Highly breathable two-way air exchange
- Blocks 99.9% of the wind
- Stretch for active comfort
- Warmth without weight
- Less noise than a hardshell
- Machine washable
No sooner has Gore launched its impressive new Active Shell fabric for autumn 2011 than Polartec announces NeoShell, a new waterproof material claimed unequivocably to the the most breathable waterproof fabric out there. Not only that, Polartec has also had a dig at outdated testing methods, which it says - in a not very subtle dig at its rivals – ‘yield some bizarre results’.
A golden ticket to Willie Wonka Land is nothing compared to a glimpse behind the scenes at Polartec’s factory of dream fabrics. North of Boston, Mass. is an unassuming building that houses research and production that helps to keep us warm and comfortable. Polartec has raised the bar again, extending garment performance with the launch this week of its new NeoShell hydrophobic, microporous polyurethane membrane technology.
There was no mistaking the message – ‘NeoShell® is the most breathable waterproof fabric on the market today.’ For Autumn next year expect to see Rab, Vaude, Mountain Equipment, The North Face, Eider, Mammut and Marmot using the fabric, with more to follow.
Unlike the majority of hardshell waterproofs on the market today which have zero airflow, NeoShell allows actual air permeability (0.5 CFM or 2 l/m2/sec). Even a tiny amount of air permeability, irrelevant from a wind chill perspective, iresults in much better moisture vapour transport. Trad shell fabrics need heat and pressure to build inside the garment before the membrane begins to work.
This new technology breathes actively thanks to an exclusive sub-micron fibre membrane with unprecedented air permeability and yields competitive scores on traditional waterproof breathability measures like RET and MVTR. Never mind the moans about marketing and hype, engage the brain and reap the benefit on the hill.
However, Polartec believes ‘These outdated static tests also yield some bizarre results that are completely counter to real world observations, like hardshells are supposedly more breathable than 200 weight fleece. Polartec is encouraging the industry to use a test that more closely emulates real world experience in the Dynamic Moisture Permeation Cell (ASTM 2298).’ That is s a test preferred by the United States military to evaluate fabrics as it more closely predicts actual user experience.
Stay tuned for our next article on the various waterproof breathable fabrics coming out this year.