Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking


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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking on 01/02/2007 21:12:48 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Simple lapped seam on 01/03/2007 11:19:56 MST Print View

Sails are often sewn with this seam. Two parallel 3-step zig-zag stich lines that overlaps the raw edges works well on stiffer dacron sail cloths but can pucker lighter fabrics like silnylon unless you have a presser foot designed for overlocking with a conventional machine that uses a thread restraining "edging bar". This out to work really well on Cordura without any special presser foot but might be overkill and is slower to sew than the extra straight stiches the author recommends. Zig zag stiches are nice and stretchy and strong. I like to use them in tarp ridgeline with polyester thread that isn't as stretchy as the underlying fabric.

I had added supplex nylon patches to high wear areas of lighter gear. In areas where it is hard to stitch on then iron on adhesive films work OK. The adhesive lasts about as long as the patch. Some gear is just expendable. Ugly prototypes are fun to wear out. Home-made gear can be cheap in dollars but expensive in time if you don't have a pattern to work from. Sometimes I seam rip old commercial gear to replicate in lighter, heavier, or just customized versions. Having a good machine such as a Bernina or a Viking that can handle both light and heavy fabrics well is a big help, but even lighter machines can be hand turned for small items. Even a hand sewing awl is useful for repairing heavy items.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Bushwhacking gear on 01/03/2007 14:36:06 MST Print View

I appreciate the information about the fabrics. I am a member of a group that does off-trail "scrambling" in the north and central cascades, and, as you say, our local big box outdoor retailers tend to focus on what's cool, and therefore impractical for our use - cotton and cotton blends being the biggest offenders. Cotton kills! is a common chant, due to the high likelihood of hypothermia in this region. Few of us sew, so we tend to replace clothing frequently, go raggedy for long periods, or resort to that ultimate of fashion statements - duct tape!

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Re: Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking on 01/03/2007 17:52:18 MST Print View

How does the eVENT fabric fit into all this?

I am new to "gaiters" and like the Integral Design eVENT gaiters. It did occur that they might not stand up to a rattlesnake, but no way to test without doing it.

Edited by bdavis on 01/03/2007 17:54:57 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Coating variations on 01/03/2007 18:15:18 MST Print View

There are different blends and weights of polyurethane.
Some are worse than acrylic, especially if they use a
lot of vinyl in the blend.

There are solvent based and water based polyurethanes. The
solvent ones last longer in wet conditions and in the wash.
The water based are sometime promoted as being more environ-
mentaly friendly.

Cheaper urethane blends will add vinyl which weakens the coating but looks very waterproof.

Expensive blends will sometimes add silicone for increased
strength and waterproofness under pressure.

The weight of the coating has a significant effect on waterproofness under pressure. At 3 oz or more per square
yard, (coating weight) it can be heat sealed for dry bags.
For comparison, the acrylic coatings used on pack cloth
are generally .25 oz per square yard, as are the silicone
coating used in "silnylon".

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
high-tech fabrics on 01/03/2007 20:24:08 MST Print View

Roger, are any of the high-tech fabrics such as
spectra/dyneema
or kevlar/aramids suitable for clothing?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking on 01/04/2007 01:56:07 MST Print View

> How does the eVENT fabric fit into all this?
It is a 'membrane' fabric. You should think of it in the same class as GoreTex. I have not tested it in our Australian spikey scrub, but I suspect it may be as suisceptible to pin-hole damage.

What that does not cover is the face fabric: what and how strong and what DWR is used. The combinations are endless.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Coating variations on 01/04/2007 02:00:22 MST Print View

Dave Olsen wrote:
> There are different blends and weights of polyurethane.
> Some are worse than acrylic, especially if they use a
> lot of vinyl in the blend.

Dave knows his fabrics.

Continuing on from there, I have seen 'silicone' coated spinnaker fabrics which obviously had some polycarbonate (think Lexan!) polymer added. The gabric ended up quite stiff and crinkly, and a tent I made out of this fabric proved to be very noisy in the wind. After a while I think the coating weakened at the crinkle-lines and started to leak gently as well.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: high-tech fabrics on 01/04/2007 02:09:57 MST Print View

> Roger, are any of the high-tech fabrics such as
> spectra/dyneema or kevlar/aramids suitable for clothing?
Well, those are FIBERS, not fabrics. I make the distinction because how the fibers are woven makes huge differences to how it behaves in a fabric.

More pragmatically, you can buy both nylon, Cordura and Kevlar fabrics at OWFINC. The Cordura is a bit more expensive than the ordinary nylon of course. However, while OWFINC quote a price per YARD for both of the nylon fabrics, they quote a price per INCH for the Kevlar!

So while the fibers might be suitable for gaiters or the seat of your pants, you would have to ask whether you could afford them.

Apart from that, those fibers and fabrics made from them are tricky things to handle, and you would need to use Kevlar thread for the sewing to retain the strength. I have some Kevlar thread, but it is hard stuff to sew with as well. Mind you, when I slashed those gaiters open on the sharp rocks on the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia, I did use the Kevlar thread to repair the tears. It took the abuse at ankle level.

From my experience, I think 500 denier and 1000 denier Cordura or Kodra fabrics or similar may be enough for me.

Hamilton Moore
(moorehd) - F
BDU on 01/06/2007 14:22:08 MST Print View

I do a fair amount of bushwacking in the deserts of southern Nevada in the cooler months. We have a lot of catclaws, a bush which has "catclaws" every inch or so on its stems and grow to be more than 10 feet high. They tear the flesh and have actually gotten stuck and torn off in the top of my head. They will snag on just about anything.

There is also the usual abrasion from rocks and lower brush.

I have found BDU's (Battle Dress Uniforms) the most useful. When new, they are too tough for the catclaws to stick, sliding though the tangles with immunity. I have never torn any and have yet to have a pair wear out though my pants, after 100 or so trips do occasionally snag on a catclaw.

They have an abundance of pockets.

They come in 3 constructions, all cotten=great for those applications where hypothermia is not a problem, half cotten and half synthetic, which dry faster, and synthetic for cold weather use.

They are relatively cheap $35.00 for top or bottom and available at most surplus stores.

It doesn't rain much here but I have seen people wear them in the rain without cover in the Sierra's, presumably those were the synthetic variety. The wearer said they did get soaked but still provided insulation.

They are pretty heavy but I doubt the durability can be improved upon at any cost.

For rain gear I have used frogg toggs which have been pretty tough but do get caught on the catclaws.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Very tough pants on 01/10/2007 14:45:15 MST Print View

In the U.S. RailRiders nylon pants have been a standard for durable backcountry pants.
HOWSOMEVER...a new company, 5.11, makes a nylon canvas tactical pant nicknamed "The FBI pant" for its use by that bureau.
The pants have double seat & knees W/ inside pockets in the knees to for inserting 5.11's optional thin neoprene knee pads. They protect against bumps & abrasions from scrambling over boulders. Perfect for the Mojave Desert here in S. Nevada.
The pants come only in tan or olive. They have two cargo pickets, slash hip pockets & standard front pockets.
Also the pants have provision for a cuff cord, should you want one.
They are also avaible in cotton canvas.
These pants are less expensive than RailRiders and are sxtremely well constructed with numerous bartacks at stress points. I just like 'em better.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/10/2007 14:48:10 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: high-tech fabrics on 01/10/2007 16:25:12 MST Print View

Nomex, a Dupont trademark for an aramid fiber cloth used in firefighting clothing is available here and there, but, as Roger says, it is expensive. Textile Outfitters - http://www.justmakeit.com/fabrics/fleece/polartec200/nomex.html
has it for $60 per meter.

On the other hand, nylon ballistic cloth goes for under $12, and it is more than strong enough for most clothing applications where high abrasion resistance is critical.

Edited by vickrhines on 01/10/2007 16:32:05 MST.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
what about leather? on 01/10/2007 19:52:31 MST Print View

I would think leather would be the ideal choice for extremely thorny/abrasive environments. If wetness is possibility, then wax or otherwise waterproof the leather. Otherwise, leave it unwaxed to promote breathability. Yes, leather is heavier than cordura, but it's also vastly more durable. I remember a pair of cordura desert boots I once used (the fabric ressembled 1000 denier uncoated cordura, though it might not have been by Dupont). They tore open on the side within a matter of days due to brushing against some sort of abrasive rock. Even lightweight leather wouldn't tear open this easily. Also, leather is naturally rip-stop, so tears don't propogate the way they do with woven fabrics. Also, needle-sharp thorns poke through even double layers of heavy coated 1000denier cordura with ease--not so with leather.

If using leather, I'd probably go with seam D and then run some superglue over the seam to protect the threads.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Very tough pants on 01/10/2007 21:21:08 MST Print View

Thanks for the lead, Eric. I needed some new nylon pants. I ordered a pair of the 5.11 pants and a shirt. The shipping was free unlike at RailRiders... they wanted $12 S&H for UPS Ground. I think I liked the features of the 5.11 pants better. Anyway, we will see. I'll post my opinion of them after I have had them out on a few trips. I go to the Grand Canyon in March. That would be a great time to mess them up.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Re: Very tough pants on 01/10/2007 21:30:34 MST Print View

For the record my favorite hiking pants are Gramicci rock climbing pants. They are the pinnacle of inconvenience. I love them. No fly, no button/snap (pull on), gusseted crotch, tight fit, super light. They are nylon and very quick drying. They are very light but I don't have the weight handy. The "belt" is an integrated strap of nylon webbing and a buckle. They are very tough. They could be lighter only if I cut the pockets out (considering this after the last BPL print magazine...)

Oh, yeah, I wear them when I climb as well... dual use! :)

Edited by jjpitts on 01/10/2007 21:31:38 MST.

darren stephens
(darren5576) - F

Locale: Down Under
Bushwhacking Gear on 01/12/2007 14:34:25 MST Print View

Nice to see a bit of Aus bush Roger.
While not as well traveled as you I do know what you are talking about. Basically from my house I can walk into the kind of sandstone ridge country you are talking about between wollemi and Goulburn River NP. You can follow ridges for miles, sleep in caves etc. But the end result is the same, blood and scratches.
I use an amp 35 pack because it’s tough but it’s still always having branches snapped off by it or it gets dragged along rocks.
As far as rain goes in summer it usually doesn’t. If I get caught by a storm I just take of my shirt and tough it out then dry out around camp. I’m winter wear a British army DPM gortex jacket, brand new of eBay for $60; it’s a little heavy but super tough and cheap as chips.
I still have and use plenty of UL gear but this is all about fit for purpose and with a bit of planning you can still go light, you just have to know what the terrain is.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Very tough pants on 01/13/2007 23:01:44 MST Print View

> In the U.S. RailRiders nylon pants have been a standard for durable backcountry pants.
Next Bushwhacking gear article - coming. But I found the RailRiders rather breezy, and not all models were really functional. More in the Article.

> HOWSOMEVER...a new company, 5.11, makes a nylon canvas tactical pant nicknamed "The FBI pant" for its use by that bureau.
Hum ....

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: what about leather? on 01/13/2007 23:05:38 MST Print View

> I would think leather would be the ideal choice for extremely thorny/abrasive environments. If wetness is possibility, then wax or otherwise waterproof the leather.
Well, please remember that we might spend 3 days walking IN the river all day. I don't think leather gaiters would like that very much.
On the other hand, we do take leather gloves on some trips to handle the lawyers vines etc, so it has uses.

Yes, it is good stuff in some places, but leather is much heavier and much dearer than Cordura.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Bushwhacking Gear on 01/13/2007 23:07:54 MST Print View

> Nice to see a bit of Aus bush Roger.
> While not as well traveled as you I do know what you are talking about. Basically from my house I can walk into the kind of sandstone ridge country you are talking about between Wollemi and Goulburn River NP. You can follow ridges for miles, sleep in caves etc. But the end result is the same, blood and scratches.
LOL! :-)
Yep, that's Wollemi NP!

Christopher Kuzmich
(obchristo2) - F
Re: Very tough pants on 11/07/2007 09:38:51 MST Print View

The 5.11 pant is actually an old Royal Robbins climbing pant. Dan Costa, previous owner of Royal Robbins took the 5.11 pant design with him when he sold Royal Robbins- seeing as it was the only design of unique value (Royal Robbins gave up designing climbing clothing to focus on travel clothing).

Both 5.11 and Royal Robbins are located in Modesto, CA.

Edited by obchristo2 on 11/07/2007 09:54:16 MST.