It happened in a matter of a few years: my fabulous outdoor wear stash is hopelessly outdated.
As some of you have deduced I have an extensive stash of technical fabrics from PolarTec LLC, which was still called Malden Mills when I purchased them prior to the 2007 buyout and are now not the latest and greatest in outdoor fabrics technology.
In order to find out which fabrics would be most useful for early Spring gardening chores in keeping out wind/rain and for kneeling or sitting in soggy soil I have done some research on the newest PolarTec fabrics and would love to have the new NeoShell fabric in the stash.
Here’s a rundown on NeoShell used in the new stretch Neo jackets offered by retailer Rab. Terry Abraham, backpacker extraordinaire, has an extensive blog review of his NeoShell jacket performed. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Apparently, the industry standard is “eVent”. A pair of eVent rain pants from REI sells for $189 But I understand that the eVent fabric makes crinkly-crumply sounds when it’s worn. So, being a loyal MM/PolarTec customer I lust after the stretchy and quiet NeoShell. Discovery Trekking Outfitters in Canada sells it and many other wonderful PolarTec fabrics.
Here in online US I found minimal sources for anything beyond fleeces: RockyWoods.com has PolarTec fabrics as does SeattleFabrics.com And of course you might try the PolarTec fabric outlet Mill Direct Textiles but I didn’t see anything remotely new and revolutionary in their online stock but they might know who is retailing their more technical fabrics. Maybe.
But here’s what I have, all are outdated prototypes of these fabrics: WindPro, Windbloc, PowerStretch, PowerDry and numerous fleece varieties. My fabrics are older versions and I could find no photos that reflected what I actually find in the stash. Nothing I have is truly water proof so I can count on soggy knees and derriere. I did find a length of an early GoreTex that can serve as a ground cover I move around with me as I work.
I also have another 1980’s type of workout suit fabric that was supposed to be “water resistant”. Hmmm, it not at all resistant, it started absorbing water immediately
Glad I tested it before I used it on soggy ground :) Out it goes! It’s so outdated I will feel no remorse in tossing it, rather than making a trip to the Good Will donation bin.
And, of course, there’s always the old plastic sheet or a garbage bag for a ground cloth. I’d prefer to use something that can be thrown into the washing machine with the rest of the muddy clothes like the GoreTex.
I haven’t decided which I’d like best: a bib and a number of polar fleece tops or a whole covering like a true overall.
Rosie’s Workwear has some cute ideas, including the use of velcro for quick shedding of muddy clothes. I love the facings on the cuffs and collar, don’t you? Rosie’s coveralls are not waterproof or even water resistant but they are designed to be worn over a whole set of clothes, hence they are “overalls”. For $80 I could buy a pair of water resistant, UV blocking pants from Patagonia But I’d be out an amount of money and still have these other fabrics in the stash. I think I’d better choose stash over the new stuff or my stash will soon rate with the dinosaurs in fabric development history.
I have 3 yards of an awesomely thick wool with poly/cotton as the weft yarn that is far more water resistant than Windbloc Power Dry described below. The tightly woven wool is super at resisting water!
but after an hour or more the droplets suddenly vanished and all that was left was a wet spot
I hesitate to use it though, since once wool becomes too dirty is grows less water resistant. I may cut pair of bibs from it just the same and be careful with getting it too dirty. I did throw a 6″ x 6″ swatch of it into the washer with other fabrics and washed it in cold water: it shrank .5″ in length, none in width and came out so soft and yummy.
I tested the Windbloc PowerDry and it absorbed the water droplets within approximately 15 minutes but the moisture could barely be felt on the inner side of the fabric. It will absorb sweat away from the body and is super soft and stretchy and dries by hanging in 2 hours or so. It will be excellent at blocking the cold winds. Here it is. The lighter, fuzzy side is the side to be next to the skin so it will be super comfortable and might make up into a wonderful set of bibs.
Well, I’ve done my research and I have made no hard decisions yet since it seems I must make compromises when using any of the stash fabrics. So now I need to come up with the pattern and pick the first fabric to cut.