Knowing the differences and benefits between fabrics is useful knowledge for anyone serious about getting the most performance from their sport – and paddlesport is no exception.
With so many different brands promoting the benefits of their base layer fabrics in particular, it can be hard to know what to buy. For paddlers this is even harder as most brands are made for the sport they identify with, which is why after our own extensive research, we arrived at MicroSense being our no.1 choice for the performance paddler.
All textiles and fabrics are, of course, either made from natural or synthetic fibres. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, bamboo and linen are made of plant-based fibres; whereas fur, silk and wool are made from animal-based fibres. Synthetics, on the other hand, are man-made and produced from chemicals to create fabrics like polyester, polypropylene, rayon, acrylic, and many others.
Whether natural or synthetic, we wanted to find the perfect material for our base layers that was 100% comfortable next-to-skin, with excellent wicking and drying properties, whilst also being flexible and long lasting, capable of withstanding hours of relentless twisting and stretching encountered in performance paddling. Not least, we wanted a fabric that could be expected to survive the day-after-day abuse of lying at the bottom of a kit bag...!! (We don't ask for much, do we!)
After much wrangling over the pros and cons of considering the likes of Merino wool (known for its exceptional high performing natural properties), in the end, we felt that it was MicroSense which delivered the most all-round performance when considering the unique demands of high intensity, competitive paddlesports such as canoeing, kayaking, SUP – and even surfski.
Whilst able to meet these demands of performance and durability, as the name suggests, MicroSense is unrivaled in terms of its next-to-skin, silky-soft comfort thanks to a microfibre polyester and polypropylene yarn. Whilst the polyester provides the stretch and flexibility, it is the polypropylene which makes it so soft, despite being known better as a hard plastic (used for making playboats, for example...!). At this micro level, the polypropylene makes the yarn especially soft, but is also great for repellency, too – repelling moisture and bacteria caused from sweating, whilst also repelling water caused from splashing – helping keeping fabric dry from all directions!
One of the greatest criticisms in the use of synthetics in sport are its ability to remove odours from the fabric during and after exercise – something natural fibres do, well... naturally. To overcome this, MicroSense is treated with an antibacterial ‘silver ion’ additive, (branded, ‘Prolen Siltex Bodyfresh’) during the manufacture of the yarn. (The use of silver nanotechnology is well known for its antibacterial benefits). This additive is impregnated into the fabric, so does not wash out easily, keeping the fabric fresh for much longer than many other synthetics.
The other, perhaps more controversial argument used by natural fibres against the use of synthetics, is the environmental impact. There’s no hiding from the fact that as synthetics are man-made – their raw materials source from chemicals, potentially harmful to the environment. This was something we considered very carefully, and whilst in doing so, also learned that the increasing demands of processing Merino wool, for example, has its own environmental impact as part of a much-criticised livestock industry, not least how other textile processing methods can be equally as harmful.
The last most notable advantage of synthetics (which might be secondary to some, but of significant importance to the habitual performance paddler…!), is washing and drying. Synthetics can be washed more easily than natural materials and are therefore easier to care for, not least that they also dry much faster, too. This is especially important for those training and competing on a regular basis, who do not have the time or attention needed to worrying about fabric, but need to just rely on their kit ‘getting the job done’ as one would expect from quality performance wear.
Ultimate performance and comfort, quick drying, low odour and ease of washing… we believe MicroSense is the perfect fabric for our base layers, fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of performance paddlesport.
Visit our shop to select style, colour and size.
Available also in styles for Women.