Experience From - Milt Scholl , Norm Yarger , Curt Ringstad , John Lindsay, Doug McKeever
Norm Yarger wrote:
"I have one of the Moss Brown suits and love it. I ordered the regular 10 miler, but they must have been out because I ended up with their more expensive model for the same price. It seems to shed the water well, and even the high tech stuff has problems in cold weather when the moisture condenses on the inside before making it through the pores, so I find this just about as good and a lot lighter than my old Gore Tex."Gore Tex and just about any "breathable" waterproof clothing is worthless after running more than 3 hours in the rain, especially the rather endless rain here in the Northwest (we are something like 9 inches over normal for November). All you can hope for is that the jacket construction (typically multi-layered) acts like a wet suit and insulation to keep warm water next to your skin. For instance, I was out for 3 hours Sunday and it stopped raining for only 40 minutes, but the trees still dumped their accumulation. I usually carry an extra shirt AND a large garbage bag in case I get REALLY chilled, as well as extra glove liners.
Milt, I understand your problem with "breathable" fabrics when running in continuous rain. In the cold weather we have out here in the northern mid-west, the humidity may be low enough to evaporate the moisture, but it actually condenses on the inside.
So, number one for me is wind-proof. If I can stop the wind then all I need is a good wicking layer to get the moisture away from my body plus a layer to hold it. Then, if the coat is properly vented there is an opportunity for the moisture to get out. My old Gore Tex jacket had large back and breast vents. Also, I usually lower the jacket zipper when running down wind for more venting.
But wind-proof is the important feature during continuous rain so it can be part of the "wet suit" effect you noted.
What Milt forgets to mention is that the wetness is due to condensation of all the water vapor that the runner gives off- if you stand still in a good gore- tex garement you will stay dry indefinitly. I have had excellent results in an Activent ( Patagonia calls it Pneumatic) shell that I treat with Nikwax water repellant once or twice a year. The Activent fabric is basically a lighter coating of gore-tex perforated to gain greater breathability and water resistance rather than water proofness. As Milt points out it is of key importance to wear good quality undergarments of polyester or polypropylene and carry extras, to dissipate the water is my goal along with cutting the wind chill- you are going to be wet no matter what you wear.
I have New Balance track suit made out of Microft which is a light microfiber which is water repellant and wind resistant. It is not a coated fabric, but seems to rely upon it's fine weave for water repellancy.
I've noticed in the rain that it leaks in patches, mostly on the arms and front, within about 10 minutes. The rest of the garment repels the water. I've washed it many times in clear water to remove any detergent build up as specified in the maintenance instructions. I've also washed it in Nikwax TX10 to add water repellancy, but this makes no difference. I'm considering applying Scotchgard next.
Any suggestions as to how to restore water repellancy to this material, or is Microft just an inferior fabric to Activent or the Patagonia Pneumatic for water repellancy. The reason I persist with it is that it is extremely comfortable and doesn't make a lot of noise when you move like some of the other fabrics.
Curt: I agree with you about Activent. The Sierra Designs garment I mentioned in a previous post on this subject is Activent fabric. That particular model has excellent venting front and back, which makes it ideal for running.
The "pneumatic" by Patagonia is an excellent fabric, as well. If anything it breathes less well than the Activent, but it is 100% windproof and highly water resistent. Also, as you mention, washing the garments and occasionally retreating the durable water repellency with the appropriate Nikwax products is very much worthwhile in that an effective DWR keeps the fabric light in weight while in use and allows much more vapor to transpire when the fabric hasn't "wetted out."
John: Microfiber is indeed good for running clothes in that it is quiet, has a very good "hand", and is fairly windproof. However it is not particularly water resistant. I recall that in both garments the water resistance was superb the first time or two I used them. I don't have the test results at hand at the moment, but I recall that the test results show a significant reduction in water repellency after as few as four washings. I use the pullover I have, made by Lowe, and the pants, made by Sierra Designs, primarily for dry but breezy conditions where I don't expect to use it for raingear. Also,my pullover is incredibly bright orange and is good to use during hunting season out here in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. In my opinion microfiber (Lowe uses Silmond, a Japanese-made fabric) is nowhere near as suitable for wet-weather use as either Patagonia Pneumatic or especially any of the Activent garments. I have also tried washing the microfiber in Nikwax TX-Direct but it doesn't help much with water repellency. Microfiber relies on an extremely high denier to the fabric for both its wind and water resistance, rather than on any type of coating or laminate.