Technical fabrics, so excellent, but hard to source in regular fabric stores. But there are a few suppliers that fulfill online orders, based in the Pacific NW (where sports gear is born).
I've ordered from Seattle Fabrics before, but they don't always ship on time and they're not good about making sure to describe all product specs on their online catalog. Rockywoods
seems to have a good selection for UPF fabrics. I'd start looking there.
Here's a few things that I've learned working with technical fabrics in school (I'm a designer):Moisture Wicking:
These fabrics are soft and stretchy and made of nylon, or other synthetic fibers. They allow moisture from sweat to pass through their knit, keeping the skin dry. Leotard fabric. Good option for skintight daytime playa wear. Get freezing immediately if worn without outer insulation.
There are lots of nylon/polyester blends to be had in regular fabric stores, also, that work basically the same way but the technical versions will be more durable, come with antimicrobial, anti-odor or UV resistant coatings, and generally be manufactured to a higher standard. It might be worth using a technical wicking fabric if you need some kind of base layer for a suit made entirely of plastic or some other non-breathable substance (like the black body stockings that come with storm trooper outfits), or if you want a skintight outfit that can be worn more than once even after hours of sweaty use. Natural equivalent: Knit cotton or other plant fibers, jersey, light knit wool or animal fibers. DWR:
Stands for durable, water resistant. Usually some kind of woven synthetic/blend with a hydrophobic chemical treatment applied to it, kind of like a precisely applied Scotch Guard. Used in tents, outerwear and in home and marine applications. These fabrics come in many weights and weaves for different uses. Some of the most complicated DWR fabrics are used in performance snow gear.
DWR fabrics might not be worth the money spent on playa clothes, but you'll probably encounter this acronym if you're looking for materials to make tents or shade structures. DWR fabrics are desirable for people coverings because they are more breathable than their other water repellant cousin ripstop
. Natural equivalents: Silk, wool weave, cotton (heavy-light weave). Ripstop:
Is it a plastic or is it a fabric? These are woven fabrics made of nylon that might also be coated with silicone for the ultimate water and elemental repellant. Most sporty backpacks and messenger bags are made of various types of nylon ripstop as well as the all weather type tents. If you want not dust at all to get on something use a silicone impregnated ripstop cover. For the most secure containment, sew with a fine point needle and fine thread, and seal the seams up with tape or sealer, which can be purchased specially for the purpose. Ballistic Nylon:
Pretty much implies what you think it does. Heavy woven nylon. Probably comes in camo color. Also used often in bags and other gear with the ripstop. Similar to heavy canvas/burlap in use. Webbing:
Either nylon, polyester or natural fibers, is a type of durable strapping often used in bags and backpacks. UV Resistance:
Not to be confused with UPF, (the OP's SPF protective fabric) UV resistance means that the fabric will not discolor in the sunlight. Technical Fleece:
Lots of options here, some keep you warmer than others. Similar heat retaining qualities to knit sweaters. Works best in layers with other types of fabrics.
An outfit consisting of a wicking bodysuit as your first layer, an insulating jumpsuit made of performance fleece for your middle layer, and some kind of DWR outerwear fabric, ballistic nylon/ripstop (I don't know you might use this) or simple denim, canvas or other woven fabric that blocks wind will be very very warm
You can totally use this theory of layering with natural fibers as well.
Other things:How warm is my technical fleece?
All of these fabrics usually come with some kind of MSDS and specifications of what temperatures and conditions they're best withstand. If you're not sure just ask. Don't freeze out on the playa at midnight because you were lazy about your technical specifications. Why use technical fabrics when there are natural fibers that work just as well?
It's totally your preference. Usually technical fabrics perform better for less bulk, have more stretch and range of motion, and they come in lots of crazy unnatural colors, which might be a plus for some. Brands:
The most important thing to know is that people often confuse brand names with the type of fabric they are most known for producing. Supplex, Gortex, Lycra, and Cordura are some big brands that might sound familiar to you. Fire safety.
All of these performance fabrics are pretty gross when you burn them because of the heavy use of polymers which means they're melt and/or smoke when exposed to flame, so keep this in mind if you tend to get up close and personal with the burns. Many performance fabrics come with fire retardant coatings, but also keep in mind that fire retardant doesn't mean non-combustible. If you expect to get a little singed every once in awhile, sticking with whatever is usually recommended for fire safety would be best.