For several years, brands have been working hard to improve the eco credentials of their waterproof clothing, removing harmful PFC chemicals and experimenting with recycled materials – but now Polartec claims to have made another “pioneering” improvement in terms of sustainability and performance. It has finally “cracked the code” on an eco-engineered weatherproof technology with “absolutely no compromise in performance”. The secret? It’s a completely different membrane from the microporous, multi-layered membranes of the past.
Here’s the full lowdown.
Creators of the original synthetic fleece in 1981, Polartec has spent the past four decades redefining the outdoor fabric market. Innovations include inventing high-loft fleece, pioneering post-consumer recycling, reinventing stretch fabric, and developing grid construction with Polartec Power Grid. And this week the company’s latest innovation has been released – Polartec Power Shield. It’s a brand new, bio-based fabric technology offering “more sustainable, higher performance and versatile all-weather protection” for outdoor enthusiasts.
Described as “one insane membrane”, Polartec Power Shield is 48% plant-based, made from non-food source, non-GMO, renewably and sustainably farmed bio materials. To create it Polartec’s scientists were tasked with developing a breathable and waterproof membrane that was plant-based and non-PFAS. Not an easy job.
What they came up with is a new system that uses molecular diffusion, rather than micropores, to move out water vapour while maintaining a barrier against water droplets. This type of technology isn’t new—but a membrane that can layer within technical fabric and withstand stretching, washing, and the abuse of outdoor sport is “totally unprecedented”, as Polartec put it. Moreover, because this new technology is free from micropores, it also can’t clog up and lose breathing performance.
“Plant-based building blocks that do not compete with human food sources.”
Part of Polartec’s mission to replace harmful petroleum-based products with living matter substitutes, while simultaneously increasing the efficiency and performance of fabrics, Power Shield is billed as a game-changer. The advanced monolithic membrane of Polartec Power Shield is made from a combination of plant-based and non-PFAS materials, and achieves an “industry-leading combination of waterproofness, windproofness, long-lasting breathability, high durability, and comfortable stretch”, according to Polartec. This approach eliminates the use of PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances), which are – to put it in layman’s terms – nasty chemicals that are bad for the planet. Polartec is in the process of completely eliminating such chemicals from its entire fabric range.
Steve Layton, president of Polartec, says: “With the launch of Power Shield, we’re reinforcing Polartec’s expanded capabilities of breathable and waterproof solutions – from expedition grade durability to fashion-forward hand and drape – while also pioneering the use of bio content to achieve these remarkable functionalities. We’re proud to launch a proprietary solution constructed from all non-PFAS polymers and plant-based building blocks that do not compete with human food sources. It is our commitment to reduce reliance on petroleum while producing a membrane that offers greater water-resistance performance than we’ve ever brought to market.”
Polartec says Power Shield is constructed for a wide range of solutions, and is the most capable and versatile waterproof breathable technology to date in the company’s fabric portfolio. Power Shield has a hydrostatic head waterproof rating greater than 20,000mm and a breathability grade of 20,000g/m2/24h – both premium standards. Polartec expects the fabric to be paired with many products, from supple stretch to bombproof wovens, and from low-snag to high-stretch knits. Polartec Power Shield is available now to manufacturers and makers across the globe in six variations of face and backing fabrics – in both knits and wovens – and will hit the shelves in autumn 2023.
|READ MORE: POLARTEC.COM|