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Outdoor Retailer: Sweating the (Really) Small Stuff

by Dave MacLeay
January 25, 2008

Apparently nanotechnology – product engineering at the molecular level – has arrived in the outdoor industry. This week I’ve noticed several products or technologies being touted as “nano”:

  • NanoSphere is a similar nanotechnology treatment applied to some of Schoeller’s soft shell fabrics, claiming to offer increased water- and stain-resistance.
  • A company called NanoHorizons makes an anti-fungal treatment called “SmartSilver” that promises to control base layer body odor.
  • Hi-Tec’s “ion-mask” waterproofing uses nano technology to encapsulate individual fibers of any fabric or material, creating a highly water-resistant barrier without impacting breathability.

All three technologies utilize tiny (nano-scale) particles that bond permanently to the fabric, providing their benefits (water-, stain-, or odor-resistance) without otherwise impacting the material’s performance.

In the demonstrations that I saw, both the Hi-Tec and Schoeller treatments appeared to provide more aggressive protection than traditional DWR (durable water repellent) finishes, with water beading up and slipping off treated surfaces very easily.