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How to identify a high quality functional jacket and what should its capabilities be?

Waterproof, windproof and breathable - these are the qualities a good functional jacket should have. Whether it's a city trip or an upcoming hiking vacation, a good functional jacket is so versatile that it can accompany you on any of these adventures. Nevertheless, not all outdoor jackets have the same features, there are a variety of choices depending on your needs. So how do you identify which functional jacket you need? And how can you recognize a high-quality outdoor jacket? In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions about functional jackets and show you what quality features you should look out for when buying.

WATER-REPELLENT OR WATERPROOF? WHERE EXACTLY IS THE DIFFERENCE?

A high-quality functional jacket should be both water-repellent and waterproof, protecting you from wetness during any adventures. But what exactly is the difference between water repellent and waterproof?

Water repellent fabrics

If a fabric is water-repellent, this means that water cannot spread through the fabric at first. This results in the typical beading effect, in which water remains on the surface in the form of drops. Under the microscope, you can see that the fibers keep the water droplet away from the fabric, preventing it from soaking into it.

Basically, you can make any type of fabric water repellent. Some materials, such as some polyester fibers, are already naturally water repellent, but cotton fabric can also be made so by treating it externally with an impregnation. For this purpose, the outer material of water-repellent jackets is treated with a so-called DWR (durable water repellent) impregnation, which acts like a thin protective layer on the functional jackets. This keeps water from soaking into the inside of the jacket, at least temporarily. However, if it is heavy or permanent rain, a water-repellent product cannot withstand it for long.

Waterproof fabrics

Unlike water-repellent materials, a waterproof fabric does not allow water to pass through due to its high impermeability. Thus, it can withstand a certain water pressure (the water column). Even if it rains heavily and the water stands on the material over a large area, a waterproof jacket protects against wetness. In addition to the water-repellent impregnation on the outer fabric, waterproof jackets are in fact provided with a special membrane on the underside of the fabric. This membrane is a thin separating layer that affects the transport of liquid through it, preventing water from seeping through. In high-quality outdoor jackets, such as our teXXXactive® functional jackets, this membrane is protected from abrasion between other layers of material. The combination of a waterproof membrane and impregnated outer fabric ensures that our functional jackets are completely waterproof and windproof, making them perfect for your next outdoor adventure.

What is the water column data for a functional jacket all about?

As mentioned at the beginning, waterproof functional jackets withstand a certain water pressure without moisture penetrating the material. This waterproof membrane is measured by the so-called water column: Under the pressure of the water column, the material slowly begins to let water through. The water column is thus a key figure that can provide customers with an important indication of the quality of the jacket. The higher the water column value, the denser the membrane and the more impermeable the jacket. A water column of 3,000mm corresponds to a pressure of about 0.3 bar and means that the jacket is waterproof up to a limit of 3,000mm. When buying a functional jacket, you should therefore always make sure that the water column of the jacket is correspondingly high. All functional jackets in our teXXXactive® collection can withstand a water column of at least 3,000mm - 5,000mm and are therefore ideally suited for daily outdoor adventures. Even the zippers of our teXXXactive® functional jackets are equipped with a waterproof rubber coating that seals the zipper, so to speak.

To ensure the quality of our teXXXactive® functional jackets, we at camel active regularly conduct functional tests on material samples. Here, it is particularly important to check the tightness of the welded seams, so that water does not seep through here either.

What do I do if the outer fabric of my functional jacket absorbs moisture and the water no longer beads up properly?

Especially in places where the straps of a backpack permanently rub, it can happen after some time that a functional jacket leaks. This problem cannot be completely prevented, because the friction slowly wears away the impregnation, so that gradually the water no longer beads off and the jacket absorbs moisture. However, this is not bad at all, because the outer impregnation layer can be renewed quite easily. This works either with a wash-in impregnation in the washing machine or by special sprays that are applied to the material. Of course, you can also take a functional jacket to a dry cleaner for re-impregnation.

More detailed information about washing and reproofing of functional jackets can be found here in this article.

FUNCTIONAL JACKETS - WATERPROOF YET BREATHABLE. HOW DOES THAT WORK?

On the one hand, functional jackets protect against the penetration of water and cold air, on the other hand, they are breathable and release moisture to the outside. With a high-quality functional jacket, it is important to maintain the balance between water impermeability and breathability. But how exactly does this work?

Responsible for this is the membrane used in the jacket, which has a special micro-structure. For the teXXXactive® functional jackets, a (polyurethane) membrane made of very fine foam is used, which, after drying, lies on the fabric like an even film.

The pores of the membrane are too fine for water to penetrate, but permeable enough for water vapor to be released to the outside. In this way, the jacket retains its impermeability to water and at the same time is breathable, transporting perspiration to the outside in the form of water vapor.

Tip from our textile expert Jürgen: Do not dress too warmly under a functional jacket with a breathable membrane, otherwise the moisture exchange will no longer function properly. Professional hikers usually wear only a thin functional shirt under such jackets. A thick wool sweater, on the other hand, is often the wrong choice, because it is much too warm and so it happens that you start sweating despite a high-quality membrane.

What are PFC & PTFE and why is it so important to avoid them in functional jackets?

When buying a high-quality functional jacket, you should pay particular attention to the fact that it is waterproof and breathable and withstands a certain water column. But also the information about the absence of PFC and PTFE should not be ignored when choosing the right functional jacket. But what exactly are PFC and PTFE?

PFC and PTFE are chemicals that do not occur naturally. They are often used in the manufacture of outdoor clothing, as they primarily have water- and dirt-repellent properties. PFC is used to impregnate the outer material of functional clothing, while PTFE is used for the membrane, as it is particularly waterproof and windproof as well as extremely breathable. The disadvantage of both substances, however, lies in the non-degradable components and chemicals. These end up in nature and contribute to environmental pollution. PFC and PTFE can hardly be removed from nature, meanwhile these components can be detected almost everywhere in the world. Therefore, it is particularly important for nature and mankind to do without PFC and PTFE. The teXXXactive® functional jackets from camel active are 100% free of PFC & PTFE. Recycled material is even increasingly used for the waterproof, breathable membrane. So you are not only perfectly equipped for the next adventure, but also do something good for nature.

Discover our teXXXactive® functional jackets now! You want to learn more about sustainability at camel active? Here's our mission statement. #MAKEANACTIVECHANGE

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