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Best fabric for athletes? Cashmere?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Cyclist, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. The Silverfox

    The Silverfox Senior member

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    And nobody on here is stupid enough to test the properties of those materials in such cases. I have cashmere, I have alpaca, I don't run marathons with that stuff right next to my skin. It would be stupid, requiring lots of time and effort to handwash stuff if I did that regularly, or plenty of cash taking them to the cleaners so they can have their lifespan shortened.

    Stuff like this is what synthetics are for.


    I don't think anyone has made the argument that most people will use exotic wools for athletic activities. Or that this would at all be a sensible use of time and money for most.

    Be that as it may, it's not a ridiculous notion to think that someone on styleforum who wears cashmere and pashmina a lot would know how their wicking capabilities are compared to each other.

    I wouldn't expect the average person on SF to know this, but I'd say the odds of finding someone with that kind of knowledge of exotic wolls is much greater here than on some exercise-forum.
     
  2. Patek

    Patek Senior member

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    If you were really serious about biking you'd wear vicuna.

    +1! Now that is for real athlethes. Just make sure it is baby vicuna, everything else is for plebs.
     
  3. Master Squirrel

    Master Squirrel Senior member

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    But can anyone tell me if any of the other exotic wool or wool-like fabrics are going to do a better job of wicking sweat and being comfortable under a wide range of conditions than cashmere?
    As a former bicyclist who did approx 400mi/week, I will answer. Are the following better (property wise) for the money: Quivut: NO. Alpaca: NO. Angora: NO. Vicuna: NO. You will be just fine with the cashmere if you like it.
     
  4. otc

    otc Senior member

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    And nobody on here is stupid enough to test the properties of those materials in such cases. I have cashmere, I have alpaca, I don't run marathons with that stuff right next to my skin. It would be stupid, requiring lots of time and effort to handwash stuff if I did that regularly, or plenty of cash taking them to the cleaners so they can have their lifespan shortened.

    Stuff like this is what synthetics are for.


    You are incorrect...wool is the shit.

    That being said...merino and cashmere are the way to go and all of those other materials are stupid.

    I roll with some of these: http://www.ibexwear.com/shop/product...-bike-knickers which are not 100% wool but instead make careful use of synthetics that makes them stretchy, washable, and a bit more wind resistant in the right places.
    Merino jerseys are great too. I have an old merino sweater that I started wearing for winter riding (and even for a run) that got some snags/holes...it turned out to be perfect. I machine wash it every few uses (I usually have something under it) and it is fine.

    Would love a thrift store cashmere or something...but the issue is that you need pretty long sleeves for the riding position but you don't want a lot of bulk...I might try sewing an XL like you would take in a t-shirt from the sides
     
  5. Cyclist

    Cyclist Member

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    Let me answer your question with another question. Do you really think Style Forvm, which is about classic mens clothing, is the right place to ask a question about athletic wear?

    I hoped so, yes. I found this site when Google suggested this thread as a good match for a question about cashmere quality. It goes on for four pages, with lots of detail on where the best fabric comes from, how it's made, how production affects quality, etc. Seeing as how people in here have probably worn alpaca and angora and mohair, while I haven't ... people here are at least in a better position to know this stuff than I am.

    So, if no one in here is going to answer a really basic question, where can I find the answer? Most athletes in cold places would rather spend $300 on a North Face fleece jacket then on a few sweaters, so they can't help me. I'd rather benefit from other peoples' experience if that's possible...
     
  6. afc345

    afc345 Senior member

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    The best undergarment I've ever worn is the ones used by the Norwegian Army. It's basically some kind of mesh shirt made of wool, which does the job of wicking sweat and warming up cold air between the layers better than anything I've tried. Can be worn under anything. It's not cashmere though [​IMG]

    http://www.brynje.no/super_thermo_shirt.html Really the best undergarment for any condition you can buy.
     
  7. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    I hoped so, yes. I found this site when Google suggested this thread as a good match for a question about cashmere quality. It goes on for four pages, with lots of detail on where the best fabric comes from, how it's made, how production affects quality, etc. Seeing as how people in here have probably worn alpaca and angora and mohair, while I haven't ... people here are at least in a better position to know this stuff than I am.

    So, if no one in here is going to answer a really basic question, where can I find the answer? Most athletes in cold places would rather spend $300 on a North Face fleece jacket then on a few sweaters, so they can't help me. I'd rather benefit from other peoples' experience if that's possible...

    You could probably piece together the answer for yourself from the info in that thread. In short, cashmere is warmer per unit weight than merino wool. This almost certainly means that it has a capacity for absorbing water before it saturates. That does not necessarily mean that absorbed moisture will evaporate any faster from cashmere than from merino.

    I believe alpaca and vicuna are even warmer than cashmere per unit weight which would imply an even higher water absorption capacity. That said, while cashmere is somewhat more rare and 2-5x more expensive than merino, alpaca and vicuna are several multiples more than cashmere and quite a bit more rare. If I were you, I would stick with the cashmere you have since finding alpaca or vicuna is likely to be difficult and pricey. I do not know what the characteristics of angora are and mohair is not what you want.
     
  8. SpallaCamiccia

    SpallaCamiccia Senior member

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    Cashmere for sports sounds crazy to me!
     
  9. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    The best undergarment I've ever worn is the ones used by the Norwegian Army. It's basically some kind of mesh shirt made of wool, which does the job of wicking sweat and warming up cold air between the layers better than anything I've tried. Can be worn under anything. It's not cashmere though [​IMG]

    http://www.brynje.no/super_thermo_shirt.html Really the best undergarment for any condition you can buy.

    It says that it's made of polypropylene. [​IMG]
     
  10. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    It says that it's made of polypropylene. [​IMG]

    He may have gotten a garment in the same design, but a different fiber than the ones he owns.

    But fiber doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of performance gear. the properties of this stuff depends a lot on the often complex weave- for example, a wicking shirt will often have a weave that uses thicker and looser thread on the outside than the inside, with the finer stuff drawing water off the skin, and then the thicker stuff on the outside, with more absorption capacity, draws the water away from the inside to the outside, where it can stay away from the skin and then evaporate. Keeps the stuff driest on the inside and helps the moisture evaporate faster. There are other methods, and there are also shirts that don't do that at all, and are just plain mesh. I have cheaper mesh shirts and I have a nicer one or two- the cheap ones feel like a synthetic sticking to your skin. The nice one? I've worn it for 2 weeks straight canoing and never had it feel uncomfortable. Both are made out of exactly the same stuff, run of the mill polyester. But the weave of the fabric and texture of the fiber (which can be altered with synthetics, unlike natural fibers) can make a very large difference.

    That polypro shirt looks like a wicking waffle knit- meaning it'll pull the moisture away from the skin and has the little waffle pockets to lock in warm air. And polypro, as a fiber, tends to keep you pretty warm.
     
  11. afc345

    afc345 Senior member

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    It says that it's made of polypropylene. [​IMG]

    I think it's some sort of wool mixed with a material I don't remember the name of to make it flame resistant. Anyway, it's the shit. Wore it on a ski march that lasted for five days straight, kept me perfectly tempered all the way. Nothing but that under gore-tex outer, plus backpack and winter camo.The good thing about it that it doesn't become cold or wet when you are stopping for a break or whatever, it stays dry.
     
  12. TheDarkKnight

    TheDarkKnight Senior member

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    Isn't our long lost Vox an avid cyclist?
     
  13. The Silverfox

    The Silverfox Senior member

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    I think it's some sort of wool mixed with a material I don't remember the name of to make it flame resistant. Anyway, it's the shit. Wore it on a ski march that lasted for five days straight, kept me perfectly tempered all the way. Nothing but that under gore-tex outer, plus backpack and winter camo.The good thing about it that it doesn't become cold or wet when you are stopping for a break or whatever, it stays dry.

    Brynje's classic thing is to have a synthetic mesh shirt and a fine merino shirt in the same garment. sort of as an outer and an inner, with the mesh being the inner and the merino being the outer. If used as a midlayer with a fine merino baselayer it's very nice. The mesh is 100% synthetic, think they refer to it as merklon or something, but I think it's basically polypropelene, and it's woven in a very open way. It will transmit moisture and keep the outer away from the skin, creating pockets of air in between. Warms nicely and even if the outer is completely saturated with sweat it doesn't feel clammy as the merino outer doesn't really lay against your skin. The fabrics aren't mixed by the way, the mesh is 100% synthetic and the outer is 100% merino.
     
  14. afc345

    afc345 Senior member

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    I believe what you are referring to is the Brynje Arctic Zip Polo which indeed is an merino outer and a mesh inner. Didn't know that it was completely synthetic, thank's for the heads up to that. I do have that garment as well, but I wouldn't use that for cycling, as it simply would be too warm. Solely wearing the mesh shirt would be the ultimate, in my experience, as it fits tighter and from what I have experienced wicks moisture better. The mesh undershirts supplied to the Norwegian Army which I have been using during my service were supplied by Aclima ( http://www.aclima.no/index.php?view=...bcat=2&lang=en )though, so it's slightly different. The one thing these shirts are prone to though is ripping. But that is probably caused by the garments shrinking when washed and handed out shrunk to grunts like me..
     
  15. The Silverfox

    The Silverfox Senior member

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    The mesh shirt and then an outerlayer, or just the mesh shirt?

    The warmth of the mesh shirt lies in the pockets of air, but these are contingent on there being something on top of it to keep them locked in. If you wear one of the garments that just a mesh rather then mesh and merino and you wear it without anything on top, I don't see how this could be any warmer than wearing a fishnet.

    If you meant it would be too warm to have mesh with merino as a mid layer with an outerlayer on top, I might agree, but it can be used as an outerlayer as well. They have a garment that I think is in the antarctic series that can be used as both mid and outer layer. It's essentially the mesh/merino top from the arctic series, but I think the merino might be a hint thicker, and in addition the front of the garment is windproof. I haven't tried it, but it sounds good for cycling (in decent weather at least) as the windproofing in the front allows it to be used as an outergarment, while the fact that the rest is purely mesh and merino makes it very breathable. Ultimate breathability without getting windchilled as your going down the hills.
     
  16. afc345

    afc345 Senior member

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    I was thinking the mesh shirt as the only baselayer with a windproof jacket over that, or even a longsleeved jersey with windproofing in the front.

    However, the Brynje and Aclima stuff is so versatile that it could be used in any weather and layered with anything, really. I know the outerlayer you are talking about as well, and I agree in that it would be pretty decent, but the problem would be to make it fit as tight as possible (and lack of pockets in the back) to avoid any flapping in the wind, which is very annoying and disturbing when going downhill fast.
     
  17. stu00a

    stu00a Senior member

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  18. Cyclist

    Cyclist Member

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    You could probably piece together the answer for yourself from the info in that thread. In short, cashmere is warmer per unit weight than merino wool. This almost certainly means that it has a capacity for absorbing water before it saturates. That does not necessarily mean that absorbed moisture will evaporate any faster from cashmere than from merino.

    I didn't realize that absorbing water / wicking was connected to warmth. I read that the softer a natural fiber is, the warmer it usually is, because softness means small follicles that bend easily, which is the formula for trapping and holding onto air.

    If I were you, I would stick with the cashmere you have since finding alpaca or vicuna is likely to be difficult and pricey.

    Yeah, that's probably what I'll do. I'm going to stick with merino for base layers, and cashmere for mid layer insulation, plus goretex when it's windy or raining. I was interested in whether there's anything better, but it difficult and pricey to find out, like you say, and it's cold now.

    Cashmere for sports sounds crazy to me!

    Then you'll hate this: after I get a few new cashmere sweaters, with no holes in them, I'm going to cut two of the thrift store ones up, and make pants out of them. One day when I should have done laundry, I went out riding in cotton/poly pants, it started to rain, and I was miserable.

    But fiber doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of performance gear. the properties of this stuff depends a lot on the often complex weave- for example, a wicking shirt will often have a weave that uses thicker and looser thread on the outside than the inside, with the finer stuff drawing water off the skin, and then the thicker stuff on the outside, with more absorption capacity, draws the water away from the inside to the outside, where it can stay away from the skin and then evaporate. Keeps the stuff driest on the inside and helps the moisture evaporate faster.

    Thanks!! I appreciate the info! And it makes perfect sense that the weave should be pretty important, too.
     
  19. zippyh

    zippyh Senior member

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    What would Eddy wear?

    [​IMG]
     

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