Fabrics and How They Work, Part 2: Primaloft

Fabrics and how they work

Primaloft

History

Primaloft came about in the early 1980s when the US defence department approached Primaloft’s older parent company to look into developing a fabric alternative to down. They wanted a fabric with all the insulate and packability qualities of down but more importantly it needed to retain heat in damp conditions, something that traditionally down struggles with. The first fabric they created was known as Primaloft one.

How it works

In this article I am mainly referencing the series of Primaloft fabric’s that Montane use which are Gold and Silver ECO. They all follow a similar structure in that the fabric is made up of ultrafine polyester micro-fibers, formed in what’s called a staple of about 2” long. The staples are intertwined together in such a way that they create air-trapping pockets in the fabric while still keeping a very compressible structure and because it is a synthetic fiber it is water resistant.

In Use

The benefits to using Primaloft in garments are numerous. For me the stand outs are the really great warmth to weight benefit, the packabilty and the fact that it still performs when damp is a really big plus points. I like to compare it to the good old fleece jacket, which we have all had over the years. My Montane Prism jacket (Primaloft eco fabric) weighs 418 grams, which is a weight saving of about 30% on a normal traditional fleece and the pack size is about half and likely be warmer as well.

Montane's use of Primaloft 

Montane have been at the forefront of using Primaloft in their synthetic range and currently use it in about 10 different jacket and pant options, as well as gloves and headwear. The jacket I previously mentioned, the Prism, has to be one the most versatile pieces and has won numerous accolades over the years. Going forward they are developing a new range a base layers using one of Primoloft’s new fabric combination’s which mixes Primaloft yarn with a merino wool blend, Primino, which will make a great feeling non stinky fabric next to the skin but more importantly will make for a faster drying fabric one of pure merinos drawbacks.

In Conclusion

If you venture outdoors where you are in cold and damp conditions take a look at Primoloft garments, they are in my opinion, the best option for those conditions .

Here is a Primaloft training video from a trade-show going over the points I touched on, plus more.

 

 

  

 

A note about the author

Martin Walker has been working in the outdoor industry for over 25 years and over that time has amassed an enviable knowledge of all things outdoor. He is also the owner of Furtherfaster. It is fair to say he may be a bit biased towards the brands he sells but that's fine they're great brands.  He uses Primaloft a lot; it can be cold in New Zealand.