Tests show DuPont Thermolite Base Performance Fabrics leave competition out in the cold
DuPont, the global leader in fiber technology, released important findings today from recent research studies which show that DuPont Thermolite Base perfor-mance fabrics are not only superior when it comes to wicking, drying, comfort and warmth, but also have proven physiological and performance benefits that beat the leading cold weather thermal fabrics.
Even in freezing temperatures, sweating is the body's natural way of cooling the surfaces of the skin and keeping the body from over-heating. Athletes, such as cross-country skiers and runners, can produce up to two liters of sweat per hour which is why choosing the appropriate base layer in a cold weather layering system is important for staying warm and dry. When clothing traps, absorbs, prevents or reduces the movement and necessary evaporation of sweat in cold weather, skin temperature decreases causing the body to work harder, which in turn can produce greater strain on the heart, higher levels of fatigue, dehydration, impaired physical performance and increased risk of hypothermia.
Because moisture management is especially crucial in cold weather, two separate studies were conducted – one to determine what influences clothing had on athletes in relation to body temperature and performance, and another to find out how the various base layer fabrics compared to one another in terms of wicking, drying, warmth and comfort.
Tests Show Clothing Can Influence Performance
One of the two studies was conducted at East Carolina University's (ECU's) state-of-the-art Human Performance Laboratory in Greenville, North Carolina. This study investigated the thermoregulatory/ physiological effects of performance apparel on athletes by comparing Thermolite Base against competing products as they exercised in a temperature-controlled environmental chamber. This research was con-ducted as a blind study so the athletes were unaware of which products they were wearing during testing.
At 40 degrees Fahrenheit, runners wore three different shirts – a treated polyester, a performance polyester and Thermolite Base as they both ran on a treadmill and sat in the controlled chamber. Varia-bles such as sweat loss and hydration, fluid retention of the shirts, perceived and actual thermal load, relative exercise intensity, fuel selection, as well as perceived odor, wetness and comfort of the shirts by the runners were measured in each of the trials. Throughout the study, the athletes were unaware of which products they were wearing and each trial was performed exactly the same way with all variables other than the type of shirt remaining constant.
The ECU findings showed Thermolite Base outperformed the competition in four key areas:
- Warmer Skin Temperatures – Infrared images taken of the athletes during testing showed that more heat escaped from the competitive shirts versus when they were wearing shirts made of Thermolite Base. And because Thermolite Base helps retain body heat, less heat was lost through the shirt and the athletes stayed warmer.
- Lower Heart Rate – Athletes wearing Thermolite Base had lower heart rates versus all competing fabrics. Lower heart rates resulted in the athletes having more energy to perform.
- Lower Rate of Perceived Exertion – Using the universally recognized Borg scale which measures perceived physical exertion or effort, the athletes rated Thermolite Base as the clear winner. When wearing Thermolite Base, the athletes felt that they did not have to exert as much energy to get the same workout as when wearing competing fabrics.
- Better Comfort – 100 percent of the test subjects rated the shirts made of Thermolite Base as the most comfortable of the competitive fabrics throughout all stages of the testing.
Thermolite Base Compared to Leading Cold Weather Fabrics
Because not all fibers and fabrics natural or synthetic, are the same nor perform the same, researchers at the DuPont laboratory in Charlotte, NC, compared the Thermolite Base brand to a variety of popular fabrics marketed as performance fabrics for cold weather use. In addition to Thermolite Base, researchers also tested acrylic, cotton, silk, wool, polypropylene and branded treated polyester fabric samples for wicking and drying rates, warmth, pilling and abrasion.
To ensure that the tests would be as objective as possible, researchers needed to be able to com-pare like products so it was necessary to knit, dye and finish each sample in the same construction in order to conduct a fair analysis. When it came to the fabric test results, Thermolite Base excelled in three key areas:
- Wicking Rate – Thermolite Base wicked away moisture faster than the other fabrics in this study.
- Drying Rate – Thermolite Base dried faster than the other fabrics in this study.
- Body Warmth – Thermolite Base was shown to be a superior lightweight insulator and provided more warmth at the same thickness than competing fabrics, even when wet.
"If sweat is allowed to remain on the skin, the body quickly becomes chilled and cold and there is greater risk of hypothermia. Fast-drying fabrics are especially important in cold weather to reduce post-exercise chill, chafing and heat loss," explains Claudia Schultze, Ph.D., and market development manager for DuPont Performance Fabrics. "Because Thermolite Base retains more heat and dries faster, that cold and clammy feeling is eliminated. If you are warmer and more comfortable, you can perform better and enjoy the outdoors longer."
Both Thermolite Base performance fabrics and Thermolite Insulations rely on hollow-core DuPont Dacron fibers engineered to entrap and surround the body with warm, insulating air, providing lightweight warmth without bulk or restricted movement. DuPont invented the hollow-core fiber after finding the same structure in the fur of polar bears and designed the Thermolite fabrics and insulations to work together, synergistically adding more warmth in the layering system through the built-in hollow-core insulation and through superior moisture management. Additionally, the enhanced air spaces between the fibers ensure outstanding breathability and since Thermolite Base is not treated with chemicals, laminates or electrostatic treatments, the performance benefits never wash out or wear away.
Consumers know about the importance of layering and the Thermolite family offers a total performance method of layering from "head-to-toe" and from "the inside-out." Because different activity levels require different degrees of warmth, the Thermolite family of fabrics and insulations provides consumers with the ability to combine the right amount of layers with the right type of insulation for their specific needs for the best winter protection and comfort level.
Thermolite Base Leaves Competitors Out in the Cold
While factors like wind chill, climate, tolerance to cold, fitness levels, and equipment can certainly influence performance and comfort in winter weather, what is worn is perhaps the most critical factor to consider when it comes to staying warm and dry. Results from these recent studies confirm that Thermolite Base beats competing thermal fabrics in providing lightweight, breathable warmth and comfort. Whether skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing or running, garments made of Thermolite Base are the ideal choice as the base or mid-layer in a cold weather layering system.
"The strength and awareness of the Thermolite brand name combined with these latest test results should provide us with the necessary tools to grow in our existing markets as well as explore other potential markets where there is a value for high performance, lightweight warmth," stated Jeff McGuire, activewear and outdoor marketing manager for DuPont.
Thermolite Base is the fabric of choice for turtlenecks, winter weight slacks, fleece, footwear and socks, hats, gloves, cross-training apparel, long underwear, sleepwear, and outerwear linings. In addition to Thermolite Base performance fabrics, DuPont's Thermolite brand of performance insul-ations include Thermolite Extreme, Thermolite Micro, Thermolite Active, Thermolite Plus and Thermolite Extra.
DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; health care; apparel; home and construction; electronics; and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 70 countries and has 94,000 employees.
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