The use of fleece fabric dominates the clothing industry and is also a staple fabric found in everything from blankets to teddy bears. It is best known for use in outdoor sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and anywhere else its light weight, hydrophobic nature can be an advantage.
Fleece is a man-made fabric efficient at wicking away moisture that accumulates through sweat on the inside of the fabric and will cause wetness to bead on the outside of fabric which can then be shaken off with ease. Fleece dries quickly even when soaked through, yet has excellent heat retention properties. These traits make it an ideal fabric for use in jackets, the lining of cold weather gear, and even animal bedding.
The synthetic, soft napped material has been embraced for its many uses
since its inception in 1979. Before fleece, wool was most commonly
used for very cold weather climates where the ability of the fabric to
dry and breath while keeping the person warm were a necessity.
However, fleece surpasses even the finest woolens, and at a fraction of
the price and weight. Add to this that some fleece is highly
renewable, and not a material that relies on livestock to produce, and
at least in function, it is superior.
The Fleece Advantage
Although fleece may never be used for the same purposes as that of worsted wool, it is made in different thicknesses, and varying fleece fabrics are more suitable to certain conditions than others.
There are other advantages to fleece, besides being resistant to water, breathable, and warm, and that is its hypoallergenic qualities. Many people are sensitive to wool fabric, and polar fleece offers a better alternative to cotton or other fibers.
For sports and outdoor adventures, nothing can match the practicality of fleece fabric. Climbing mount Everest in the heavy wool and fur used in the first expeditions would be unthinkable with today's advanced fleece performance gear.
One drawback to using fleece is that it is not a flame retardant material, and is flammable. For long term care, purchasing the best quality fleece available is important from the start. Cheap fleece will tend to pile without much wear, attracting more lint and fabric particles than a better fabric. All fleece fabric should be hung dry, as exposure to high temperature drying and even fabric softening sheets can damage the fabric and make it less comfortable and functional.
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