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Shell Fabric Durability

Durability and Fabric Construction

The waterproof and breathable membrane present in outdoor waterproof clothing is 'bonded' to various nylon fabrics which are various weights and thicknesses. The durability of the 'face' fabric will be one factor in determining the durability of the fabric (and hence jacket) as a whole.

Simply bonding the waterproof/breathable membrane to the 'face' fabric leaves the membrane exposed to wear on the inside so manufacturers sometimes bond a third layer of fabric to the inside in order to protect the membrane from wear. These are termed '3-layer' fabrics.

You will notice some fabrics referred to as '2.5 Layer',  in order to save weight the manufacturer will apply a protective coating to the inside face of the membrane to protect it from wear, this is often printed with a design and is not a true 'third layer' as it isn't a discrete fabric that's applied. These 2.5 layer garments will not be as durable as three layer - but they may produce better breathability figures.

For similar jackets durability goes hand in hand with weight - so a 200grams shell jacket will not be as durable as a 300gram and so on, though features also have an impact on weight, so a jacket made from very lightweight material may appear 'heavy' because of the number of pockets, size of hood etc..