PHD Mountain Software

PHD's Fabrics, insulation and zips

Waterproof Fabrics | Water-resistant Fabrics | Downproof Fabrics | Fleece | Synthetic Insulations | Down Insulation | Zips


  Waterproof Fabrics
HS2 HS2 is PHD's 2-layer laminate, the new high-spec option for taped shells on our down gear. This ripstop fabric strikes an excellent balance between lightness and durability. It is light enough to be the optional taped shell on our sleeping bags and tough enough for expedition use in our Omega clothing, while the Kappa clothing makes full use of both its qualities.

HS2 is waterproof to a much higher level than necessary (unless you are a deep-sea diver) and offers excellent breathability. (weight: 88gsm)
HS3 HS3 is a 3-layer laminate, the new fabric for our Alpamayo shell gear. The old argument that a 2-layer fabric with a separate mesh inner was both more flexible and more breathable than a 3-layer has been overtaken by the performance of current 3-layers such as HS3.

This new ripstop fabric also removes the disadvantages of mesh (which snags on velcro and can form an ice-trap in extreme cold) and makes the gear considerably lighter. HS3 is waterproof to a much higher level than needed in outdoor gear and offers excellent breathability. (weight: 115gsm) A note about 3-layer waterproof fabrics.
Tempest A technically advanced waterproof breathable material. 100% Nylon. Good abrasion and tear resistance, yet offering high flexibility for such a tough material. (weight: 160gsm)

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  Water-resistant Fabrics
Drishell Ripstop nylon with an ultralight coating: achieves total windblock, along with high breathability and effective water resistance. Superbly efficient for a very light overall fabric weight. Drishell has proved itself over time and in all parts of the world. (weight: 54gsm)
Ultrashell The lightest of PHD's coated materials. This ripstop nylon provides complete windblock and good water resistance at minimal weight. Ultrashell provides a valuable payback in performance with very little weight penalty. (weight: 40gsm)

Note: unlike some other so-called 'proofed' fabrics, Ultrashell does not rely solely on a DWR (durable water repellent) coating. Although it has a DWR coating, more importantly it has a breathable and permanent PU coating applied on the underside of the fabric that cannot be abraded through daily use.

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  Downproof Fabrics
M1 Microfibre Lightweight silky microfibre. This close-weave 20denier fabric is fully downproof, but also light and flexible enough to allow the down maximum loft. A reliable performer that has proved itself over time in our lightweight gear. (weight: 39gsm)
MX A mini-ripstop nylon with excellent tear strength, MX is the pick of the superfine 15denier downproof materials. We have tested lighter fabrics, but most have had significant drawbacks, while our confidence in MX is based on extensive use.

MX is the standard inner in all our Minim and Minimus gear, and also the inner for our high mountain lightweights, the Hispar sleeping bags, jacket and suit. We are so confident of its performance that we have now switched the inners of our hi-tech Diamir sleeping bags to MX, reducing both weight and bulk. (weight: 32gsm)
10X We first came across a 10denier fabric about 8 years ago: breathtakingly light, but as fragile as tissue paper, it came apart in the hand. Ultralight fabrics have developed a lot since then and we have watched them all the way, interested, but refusing to use any material which would not give reasonable service in a true outdoor environment.

MX was the first modern ultralight fabric we selected, a 15denier classic which has proved itself again and again at expedition level. We are now introducing 10X into the range, a 10denier ripstop in which we have gained confidence through our own outdoor testing. It is not as robust as MX, but durable enough to put our new Wafer products beyond touch-me-not gear and to let them take their place as genuine camp clothing.

This fabric is so light that it acts as the ideal shell for the lightest fill of PHD's superb downs. The Wafer gear may surprise you with its warmth, but the small-panel design could not achieve its loft without the almost weightless 10X enclosing the down.

It is not magic. Fabrics as thin as this do not stand up well to direct abrasion, so we do not recommend the Wafer gear as actual climbing outerwear. And they will melt as quick as any nylon up against a hot stove. But for all its thinness 10X is amazingly downproof and windproof and with reasonable care will go on giving you good service for years. (weight: 26gsm)

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  Fleece
Taiga Fleece This warp-knit fleece is primarily for real activity use rather than the street scene, although its comfort and lightness give little indication of its robust performance. It will resist abrasion and cut the wind far better than normal weft-knit fleeces, shrug off a shower and dry very quickly after a soaking. If work or play takes you out into the elements, take Taiga fleece - you'll notice the difference.

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  Synthetic Insulations
Primaloft One Primaloft® One is the ideal microfibre insulation. Ultrafine fibres are specially treated in a patented process and then combined into an insulating core that is incredibly soft, lightweight and water resistant. In our experience it absorbs water much more slowly than other waddings, a marked advantage in wet-cold conditions.

The nearest of the synthetics to the feel of down, yet tougher than you would expect. Primaloft One offers the best warmth/weight performance in the Primaloft range and is used in the Kappa, Zeta, Alpha, & Sigma jackets.
Thinsulate Thinsulate is a synthetic wadding specifically made for outdoor clothing. Its great lateral stability needs less stitch-thru than other waddings, giving excellent warmth/weight performance. It is a blend of microfibres (for warmth) and thicker fibres (for resilience), thermally bonded together to avoid the use of heavy and inefficient chemical glues. Warm, compressible and resilient it has all the chief virtues of a wadding to a high degree.

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  Down Insulation
700 Down Superb European goose down, lively and well processed. Fillpower average about 700 cu.in. Used in our Baltoro Sleeping Bags and most of our down clothing, where the extra fractions of fillpower are not so critical.
800 Down European goose down of rare quality. A truly excellent down with large clusters, consistent quality and lively long-term performance. The fillpower average is about 800 and the down has demonstrated remarkable performance in actual use. This is the filling for the Minimus clothing and for the Diamir, Minim, Xero and Delta sleeping bags.
900 Down A goose down of unique quality with exceptionally large lively clusters. Tested in 2007, then introduced in 2008 in a range of items.

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  Zips
YKK Aquaseal zips – waterproof Successfully used for years on dry suits and marine sportswear, these Aquaseal zips are the only fully waterproof zips we know light enough for clothing. No rain flaps are needed. Used on our Alpamayo shell gear. (Aquaseal are not the same as the commonly used YKK Aqua zips – see below)
Riri Aquazips - water-resistant These are the best of the water-resistant zips. On raingear storm flaps are still needed, but Aquazips provide an extra line of proofing when driving rain is searching to penetrate your clothing. Used on some of our high mountain down clothing.
YKK Aqua zips - water-resistant The lightest of the water-resistant zips. Used when lightness is more important than full rain protection.
YKK Moulded Member A robust moulded zip chosen for heavy duty use in our serious mountain gear.
YKK Coil A good easy-running coil zip.
  • We use No5 weight in our sleeping bags and most of our lighter clothing.
  • The No3 weight is reserved for our lightest gear.
Note about 3-layer Waterproofs:

* - It is only fair to point out that high performance waterproof 3-layers are a great advance, but they are not miracle fabrics and HS3 has the same shortcomings as all the rest. 'No sweat' is a fiction. NO clothing (not even a string vest, let alone a proofed fabric) can transmit moisture vapour at the rate it is generated by a human body working hard. From our experience with all types of breathable shells moisture build-up will be caused either by exertion overload (unavoidable) or to a lesser extent by variations in design (lack of ventilation, multiple-layer panels, etc) and condensation inside your shells will ensue.

Of course the main difference with the upper echelon of modern breathables is that the condensation is temporary, and with the right layers underneath HS3 will do a good job of keeping you comfortable, alongside its main function of keeping the weather out.

Andy Kirkpatrick has an excellent article on his blog:
The truth about waterproof breathable fabrics: Trying to cut through all the hype.

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