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DIY Fabric Testing
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Garrett Soper
(sope0021) - F

Locale: Northwoods
DIY Fabric Testing on 01/27/2012 15:41:20 MST Print View

I recently took some scraps from fabric I had laying around and also ordered some fabric samples to do some DIY, pseudo-scientific fabric testing.

I was aiming to test breathability. I realize there is some argument whether there is a correlation between air permeability of the wrong side of the fabric and actual breathability, but I decided to do some comparisons and see what I found.

I bought a fish tank oxygen pump and a few tiny measuring cups. I filled up the cups, rubberbanded the fabric over the edge (with the waterproof side towards the water), and then flipped it upside down and held the oxygen tubing to the fabric bottom to see if it would bubble at all.

I was trying to set up a DIY version like this:

I tested nine different fabrics, and what I found is:

Uncoated 1.1oz ripstop: bubbles were large and constant.

1.1oz Ripstop with DWR: took a few seconds to bubble and then bubbled similarly to uncoated ripstop.

0.9oz Ripstop with DWR: bubbled right away, with quick, large bubbles, and emptied its water in a few seconds.

Low-loft Powershield: bubbled consistently with medium bubbles, one after the other.

Fuzzy Powershield: bubbled quickly and pretty consistently with a bunch of tiny bubbles.

Gore Soft-shell: did not let any bubbles through.

Generic Soft-shell: in the vein of fuzzy Powershield in weight and feel, but did not make any bubbles.

Gore-Tex 3 Layer Pro-Shell: let through medium-sized bubbles very slowly but consistently.

Generic WP/B: let through a single bubble in about a minute of holding the tubing against its wicking side.

I took some video of it:

Anyone else do any DIY fabric testing or comparison?

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
thanks on 01/27/2012 17:18:41 MST Print View

Thanks for doing this and posting the results.

Garrett Soper
(sope0021) - F

Locale: Northwoods
Water resistance... on 01/29/2012 17:32:21 MST Print View

For those who are interested, I also decided to test the water resistance of all the same fabrics. I rubberbanded the fabrics over the empty measuring cups and then let them sit (in groups of three) in the shower for ten minutes.

Uncoated 1.1oz ripstop: Predictably, the shot glass/measuring cup with uncoated ripstop collected about an inch of water, almost filling up the little cup. The fabric itself was soaked.

1.1oz Ripstop with DWR: Surprisingly (possibly), the 1.1oz ripstop with DWR was the most water resistant of the ripstop fabrics. It collected less than a quarter of an inch in the bottom. The fabric was wet.

0.9oz Ripstop with DWR: This one was the biggest surprise out of the ripstop fabrics. It took on as much water as uncoated ripstop and the fabric was wet. This surprised me, as this ripstop appeared to be resisting the most water when I tested it. The water visibly beaded up on the surface. I tried to be careful in positioning the cups under even amounts of shower, but the results of this and the fact that so much water was beading and rolling off this fabric make me wonder whether this one was hit by more water than the others.

Low-loft Powershield: There was no water accumulation in the glass with low-loft Powershield. However, the wicking, fleece side of the fabric was soaked. In a ten minute heavy rain Powershield might keep a person drier than ripstop with DWR, but I would imagine that anything under the fabric itself, like a base layer would get wet from the fabric absorbing so much moisture.

Fuzzy Powershield: Like low-loft Powershield, there was no water accumulation in the glass, but the fabric itself was wet, even wetter than low-loft Powershield. I think anything underneath this fabric in a short rainstorm would also get wet.

Gore Soft-shell: There was no water accumulation, but like the two variations on Powershield, the fleece (wicking) side of the fabric was wet.

Generic Soft-shell: There was no water accumulation, but like the two variations on Powershield, the fleece (wicking) side of the fabric was wet.

Gore-Tex 3 Layer Pro-Shell: There was no water accumulation in the glass and the underside of the fabric itself was totally dry.

Generic WP/B: There was no water accumulation in the glass and the underside of the fabric itself was totally dry.

Video is again at