Polartec introduces NeoShell, "most breathable waterproof fabric"
Polartec NeoShell will appear in Fall 2011 collections from numerous outdoor apparel brands including 66 North, Mammut, Marmot, Montura, Rab, The North Face, Vaude, and Westcomb.
“Polartec has offered the most complete layering system of performance fabrics for decades and now we can add a truly revolutionary waterproof breathable solution,” states Polartec president, Andy Vecchione.
“The Polartec brand only enters categories where we can deliver true innovation and breakthrough performance. Polartec NeoShell represents a massive shift forward in all-conditions comfort.”
Polartec NeoShell is completely waterproof (10,000mm) but unlike most hardshells on the market today with zero airflow, NeoShell allows actual air permeability (0.5 CFM or 2 l/m2/sec). Even a tiny amount of air permeability, imperceptible from a wind chill standpoint, accelerates moisture vapor transport significantly.
While traditional shell fabrics require heat and pressure to build inside the garment before the membrane begins to work, Polartec NeoShell breathes actively thanks to an exclusive sub-micron fiber membrane with unprecedented air permeability.
This new fabric yields competitive scores on traditional waterproof breathability measures like RET and MVTR. However, these outdated static tests also yield some bizarre results that are completely counter to real world observations, like hardshells are supposedly more breathable than 200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). This is a test actively used by the United States Military to evaluate fabrics because it more closely predicts actual user experience.
Most versions offer excellent stretch, so much so some apparel brands will merchandise Polartec NeoShell as a “waterproof soft shell” while others place the fabric squarely in their “hardshell” collections. The new hydrophobic, microporous polyurethane membrane truly offers the best of both worlds.
“Polartec’s heritage of successful product innovation makes it possible for our brand to enter the waterproof category. This launch comes on the heels of the incredibly successful introduction of Polartec Power Shield Pro that won three “Gear of the Year” awards this fall,” states Nate Simmons, global director of marketing. “We are overhauling expectations for outerwear performance and creating a much drier, less steamy experience for technical users.”