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Material terms DECODED!

February 9, 2018   |   By Liam Arthur Material terms DECODED! - image Capture-92 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

There is a lot of mumbo-jumbo used in the camping industry to describe features of a fabric’s performance. Including things like its “weight”, its “material”, whether it has “rip stop” or not, how “waterproof” it is, how “breathable” it is and if it has a ‘UPF rating’ or not.

But what do all these terms mean? We describe all of these features you will find in fabrics to help you de-code which fabrics are worth looking at for your campsite upgrades!

Weight describes thickness?

For many generations, weight has been used to describe the thickness of a fabric. The weight of a fabric is determined by a sample of a predetermined area being weighed, and will help determine the thickness and durability of a material.

However when applied to different materials, a fabric’s ‘weight’ description may not give the full picture, it is better used as a tool for comparing “apples and apples” so to speak.

So how is a fabric weighed?

This part is simple, in the old days they used to take a 1 yard x 1 yard square of the fabric, and weigh it, this would give a measurement of “ounces per yard” or simply ‘Oz of canvas’.

This method has been modernized with metric and is now “Grams per Square Metre” or simplified (GSM) this measurement takes 1 square metre of fabric and weighs it for a result in GSM.

For an example;

If I have an Adventure Kings Swag made from 400GSM rip stop poly cotton canvas fabric, 1 square metre of fabric weighs 400g, however its properties cannot be compared with those of an Adventure Kings Awning, which is made from 170GSM rip stop polyester which has 170g for a square metre of fabric.

This brings us to our next point…

Material properties

Different materials offer different properties and are suitable for different purposes. Below are some general pros and cons of some of the fabrics available for the outdoor industry.
  

Material terms DECODED! - image Capture-93 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

 

Polyester-
Polyester is found in all Adventure Kings Awnings and some roof top tent components like the annex of the Tourer, but never in high abrasion areas like the base of a tent.

PROs: CONs:
– Durable

– Waterproof

– Quick drying

– Lightweight

– Flexible

– Stretch resistant
– UV proof

– Not great for abrasion

– Not very breathable

 

Nylon –

PROs: CONs:
– Durable

– Waterproof

– Quick drying

– abrasion resistant

– UV Proof

– Can stretch when wet

– Fabric can fatigue with repetitive folding

 

Canvas – Canvas is used in all Adventure Kings Swags and Adventure Kings Roof Top Tents.

PROs: CONs:
– Durable

– Heavy duty

– Breathable

– Flexible

– Abrasion resistant

– UV Proof

– Heavier than polyester

– Not as waterproof as polyester

 

 

 

PVC – is a floor material in Adventure Kings Swags, Adventure Kings Awning Tents and the annex in the Adventure Kings Roof Top Tent ‘Tourer’

PROs: CONs:
– Durable

– Waterproof

– Quick drying

– Very abrasion resistant

– UV Proof

– Easy to clean

– not breathable

– Hard to stitch

 

As you can see, with just a few properties listed some fabrics are more suitable for shelter, and others flooring and everything in between.

What is ripstop and why do I need it?

This is a great question, originally ripstop fabric was developed as a suitable alternative to silk for World War II parachutes, it was a durable mesh woven into nylon fabrics. The durable mesh offered a reinforcement that prevents stretch and increases the tensile strength of a fabric without requiring much extra weight.

Material terms DECODED! - image Capture-91 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

In recent years ripstop mesh has been woven into nearly every material to increase strength and durability without adding much weight. This is ideal for outdoor gear because you are constantly lugging it around.

Ripstop mesh is found on nearly every Adventure Kings eligible product from the massive range of Swags, to rooftop tents, Awning Tents and much more. Without adding dramatic costs and weights to a product you can easily and simply increase its durability and performance.

How do I stay dry in the bush?

Many fabrics possess ‘waterproof’ properties, the name seems to describe exactly what that means. But how does waterproofing work?

Many waterproof fabrics rely on coatings like polyurethane to prevent moisture ingress, this works by creating a thin film on the inside of fabric and prevents moisture from ‘wicking’ through the pores of a material.

You can find examples of Polyurethane (PU) coatings on the polyester fly sheet included with the Rooftop tent Tourer.

However not all fabrics rely on coatings to stay waterproof, the ripstop polyester weave found in Adventure Kings awnings, uses a tight gap free weave to prevent water from passing through.

 

Similarly the ripstop poly cotton canvas found in the Adventure Kings Swags, use water absorption and swelling cotton fibers to seal out the weather.

Waterproofing is a great thing but it rarely if ever addresses the problem of breathability, without a breathable element to your shelter you will sweat up a storm inside, and wake up wet, even on a dry night. This is why canvas is so desirable, as mentioned above, the cotton fibers swell to absorb a bit of moisture, this prevents the body of the water from soaking through to the inside.

The best thing about a Kings ripstop poly cotton swag or Kings Rooftop tent is that it is still breathable no matter what the weather is doing.

There is over 1 liter of water put out by a human body overnight through your breath and through sweat, and that liter of water will condense on the inside of any tent swag or camp setup regardless of the material.

The benefits to choosing a canvas material allows moisture to soak through the fabric, and allows itself to dry throughout the night.

Where as you can imagine, using a fully waterproof material like polyester, would trap in the moisture and cause a squelchy night’s sleep!

There is more to outdoor fabrics than you first imagined, and now you know enough to embarrass even the most experienced sales person.

So when you are shopping for your new gear don’t be afraid to ask “what material is that?” with confidence!