Everyone’s heard of Gore-Tex and eVent, but there’s some other great options for waterproof fabric too. Mountain Equipment uses their own Drilite on many of their jackets, pants and gloves. Unsure if it’s for you? Here’s an explanation of the fabric.
Drilite is a proprietary waterproof fabric developed by Mountain Equipment designed to be waterproof, light and durable. The fabric comes in three gauges allowing Mountain Equipment to create a range for varying categories of use.
Drilite is described as a ‘hydrophilic, Monolithic Polyurethane Membrane’. What it actually is is a layer of non-porous polyurethane thin enough to allow water vapour to pass through it’s molecular structure, this is the breathability. This single layer is only 13 to 15 microns thick and provides a complete barrier to water and dirt from the outside. It is also elastic in structure allowing for a degree of stretch and unrestricted movement for the wearer. The inside of the fabric has had a pigment print applied that is further enhanced by a Silica coating. This layer aids moisture transfer to the membrane whilst retaining the comfortable dry feel of the fabric. For varying types of end user the membrane is then finished with different weights of 100% Polyamide (Nylon) outer face fabric. This is explained below.
Drilite has a 40 denier face fabric with a textured weave. This is the perfect choice for every day use in the hills and mountains providing a waterproof and windproof barrier. And as the fabric is so light it is very packable making it a great choice for travel as well as serious trekking.
Ultra-light Drilite is as the name implies a fabric developed with the fast & light guys in mind. The face fabric in this case is a super fine 12 denier fabric that has a reinforcing 50 denier fiber running through it providing reinforcement and longevity. Jackets made from this the lightest form of Drilite can be packed down seriously small making them a great choice for the mountain runner and adventure racer.
Stretch Drilite is the choice for the technical end user, these are people who want the fabric to provide a reasonably close fit yet require the fabric to stretch and move with them. The main weave is 40 denier that has been combined with a 70 denier stretch reinforcing fibre. This keeps the weight of the jacket down yet allows for excellent freedom of movement for the climber and mountaineer.