April 16, 2010, Newsletter Issue #294: The Insulating Layer of Ski Clothing

Tip of the Week

The insulation layer is the clothing that is put on over your long underwear. This second layer of clothing helps you retain body heat. It accomplishes this task by creating a layer of still or dead air around your body. Most clothing used for insulation is composed of polyesters that are treated with a process that makes the fibers stand up and trap air between the fibers. Then, the trapped air creates the protective layer of still air that insulates your body from the cold.

Fleece is the most popular fabric used for insulation. It is composed predominantly of polyesters, which are passed through a "napping" machine. This machine creates a fabric that is characterized by a tight solid weave on one side and a fluffy air-retaining surface on the other. There are a few different types of fleece that can be used for insulation. The original fleece, Malden Mills fleece fabrics are marketed under the trademark names Malden Mills , Polarfleece , and Polartec .

Fleece types are categorized by weight. Microfleece is lightweight. It is a suitable insulation layer for cross-country skiing and alpine spring skiing. Medium weight fleece, such as the Polartec TM 200 Series, is popular for skiers because it provides maximum warmth and minimum bulk. However, for very cold days, you might want to consider the warmer Polartec 300 Series. Many skiers choose two insulating layers, such as a turtleneck and a pullover.

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