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Textile tests need to be rigorous

Testing mechanisms for performance textiles are often not based on reality.

The most widely accepted standard currently, ISO 11092, does not put the textile to the test in real world conditions. The ISO 11092, which sets its test conditions at 35 degrees Celsius outside temperature and a relative humidity of 40 per cent, cannot measure the performance of breathable textiles in subzero winter temperature and snow/rain.

The test, for example, does not address the problem of condensation building up inside the clothing when the temperature drops below 14 degrees Celsius. In a dangerous case, this can cause the clothing to freeze up. When the temperature is high, on the other hand, breathability can be reversed, drawing hot steam and vapor inside the garment, boiling the wearer.

There is a need for breathability tests in cold, wet and dry conditions that measure condensation within the layers of a garment system. Such tests can be life-saving as performance garments are used by many working in extreme conditions. An India military serviceman caught in a mountain accident wearing an Ardmel garment was able to survive for nine days under extremely cold temperatures. While the serviceman died of other complications after he was saved, he did not suffer from any cold injuries. Had he worn a garment that could not prevent condensation, he would have died earlier of hypothermia.