/ breathable wind proof fleece

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organmorgan - on 13 Nov 2012
breathable wind prooof
comments => Hello fantastic article on breathability but did not answer my question so here goes .
I had a Sprayway wind block fleece it was so good i got another Then after few years they stopped working and just became a standard fleece. One is fractionally better than the other.
It did not give specific wash instructions which i have found out . They say use soap only no detergent [ found out since that this leaves residue that knackers the fabric]

I have just bought a mountain hardware Tornado fleece which is same looking construction ie no visible membrane and soft and flexible just like a normal fleece.

So my question is what category of your article do these fit into and how should you really wash them ??

I am a 76 yr old scout leader and always try to pass on this type of information to the kids.

cheers john and thanks a lot for your efforts
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captain paranoia - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to organmorgan:

I'm suprised to hear that normal washing detergent damaged the polyurethane windproof membrane in the Windbloc fleece. I think it may simply have been a lot of use...

Detergents aren't recommended for anything with a water repellent treatment (so anything that is breathable and waterproof or wind-resistant), so the detergent negates the effect of the repellent treatment, so the fabric gets wets, and as water vapour can't pass through a solid layer of water, the garment stops breathing, and you get sweaty.

Google cannot find a reference to a Mountain Hardwear Tornado fleece (this thread is the first hit). So it's hard to say what to do...

However, I would generally say that normal fleeces can be washed with normal domestic washing products (detergent powder or liquid), since they don't generally need to be water resistant. You can treat them with a wash-in proofer if you want them to shed water, but, since the fabric is an open structure, raindrops impacting of the surface simply penetrate the fabric anyway, so there's little point.

With a membraned fleece, the membrane will stop water penetrating, and the denser type of fleece used often absorbs a lot of water, so a repellent treatment can be useful to stop it getting cold and heavy. So, for a membraned fleece, there is some benefit to using a soap-based wash, which will not negate the effect of the repellent treatment like detergent does.

The easiest way to tell if a fleece has a membrane is to try to blow through it; if you can't blow through it, it's got a membrane. There are perforated membranes that allow a little air to pass, but a non-membrane fleece will pose almost no resistance to air passage at all.

Personally, I don't like membraned fleeces, as they lack versatility, as you cannot remove the windproof layer to control temperature. I prefer to use a lightweight windproof shell (such as Pertex), which is more versatile, and allows easier selection of clothing to suit the climate and activity, and allows the different layers to be cared for appropriately.

Finally, a scoutmaster calling himself 'organmorgan'? In this day and age, that's brave... Long may your scouting continue, though.

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