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Polartec introduces NeoShell, "most breathable waterproof fabric"

Polartec, LLC, manufacturer of performance fabrics, has introduced Polartec NeoShell, the most breathable waterproof fabric available on the market today.

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 However, these outdated static tests also yield some bizarre results that are completely counter to real world observations, like hardshells are supposedly more breathable than 200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.

Polartec NeoShell will be available in a range of combinations including super lightweight flat tricot backed styles to luxurious high loft backs with extremely durable woven face fabrics.

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.”


If "WPB-1" (lavender line) is eVent, I'm pretty darn excited by this...

If it's "exclusive", would it be eVent? I like eVent as well, but this may be something else.

I will say that I've had excellent performance from Polartec products, and wouldn't hesitate in recommending their fabrics. 

2 thumbs up on polartec, always love innovation as long as it is a step forward not backwards.

Here's a nice comparison at Adventure Journal of This and other new high-tech fabrics.


If WPB-1 is eVent, the improvement in the rate of water vapor flow compared to eVent is roughly 12% based on the graph.  This is not astounding.  My Rab and Westcomb eVent shells keep me dry, and they have proven themselves in durability through some years of use and abuse.   I don't expect NeoShell to feel much drier in the real world when compared to eVent.

Durability is another issue.  I'm sure Polartec has put this membrane through the testing wringer.  Will the membrane hold up after my washing machine has at it for a hundred cycles?

The big development is the 4-way stretch.  This is the one reason why I'm so excited about NeoShell.  I'll be the first in line to buy a Westcomb Apoc.


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