No lab method simulates Mother Nature perfectly, but lab testing can help develop and accurately compare fabrics for specific performance characteristics. At Patagonia, we use the most highly controlled and technology-neutral methods available that most closely simulate actual-use conditions.
Breathability is defined by a fabric’s ability to properly manage perspiration, or the moisture that evaporates from next-to-skin layers and is passed through the fabric as vapor. We test a fabric’s breathability by measuring its Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR). We run the test under lab conditions that accurately simulate multiple exertion levels and various environmental conditions – both inside and outside of a garment under actual use.
Types of Soft Shells
We make a variety of soft shells, utilizing different fabrics and construction methods depending on technical end use. Soft shells designed for alpine climbing utilize tightly woven 4-way-stretch face fabric for superb water and wind-resistance, plus dense, lofted fleece bonded to the shell for warmth. Soft shells designed for Nordic skiing and trail running are wind-proofed with bonded, stretch-woven fabric for a lighter overall weight along with wicking fleece to help manage extra perspiration.