Page 1

Natural vs. SyntheticMaterials I[o Logic in I'{ostalgin by NaNcv ANIsFTELD One of the first fallaciestaughtin debateclassis that there's no logic in an appealto tradition - that just becausesomething hasalwaysbeendonea particularway, it always shouldbe done that way (argumentumad antiquitaten).It's a familiar mode of argumentfor policies and practices,but it holdsno more logic than saying,"Doctors usedleeches to cure illness,so we shouldstill useleechesto cure illness." In additionto that bit of ill-logic, when it comes to relying on naturalfabrics,anothertruism comes into play: If you alwaysdo what you've alwaysdone, you'll alwaysget what you alwaysgot - cold feet, chills, built-up perspirationand thick, hinderinglayers.Scienceand technology havegiven us new materialswith which hunters'clothingcan be waterproof,breathableand lightweight without the moisturetrappingheavinessof wool and cotton.The choice is a no-brainer. Three types of fibers are used to make the fabrics that makethe clothing we wear. One is natural - the fibers that comedirectly from plantsand animals,suchas cotton,hair, silk and wool. Two are manufactured,usually lumped together as"synthetics."Theseare "regeneratedfibers," madefrom naturalmaterialssuchas celluloseor wood pulp processedinto fiberssuchas rayon and acetate,and true "syntheticfibers," like polypropylene(olefin),madefrom chemicalcompounds. Chemistry offers a multitude of options to synthetic fiber manufacturersas opposedto the obviously more limited options availablein naturally occurring fibers. With so much more latitude in termsof fiber compositionand processing,it is no wonder that syntheticswin handsdown when it comesto water repellency, abrasionresistance,thermoregulationand weight - the criteria by which effective outdoor clothing arejudged. Waterproofing?Considercotton first. Cotton is a hydrophilic fiber,which meansit attractswater molecules,holding that moistureagainstyour body. Rivers West'sH2P waterprooffleece, madeof synthetichydrophobic(non-absorbing)fibers,needs88 poundsof pressurefor the waterprooflng to fail. As Rivers West pointsout, if the rain is falling at a pressuregreaterthan 88 psi, you have a lot more to worry about than getting wet' Gore-Tex, a very thin porousplasticfilm laminatedto nylon or polyester,is as waterproofas rubber,but it breathes,so your sweaty little shins or shoulderswon't createcondensationon the insideof your bootsor jacket. That has made Gore-Tex the fabric of choice for outdoor gearfrom Browning's Gore-Texuplandjacket to Danner'sGore-

Tex lined grouseboot. Strength?Spandex,a manufactured elastomericfiber, can stretchmore than 500 percentand still regainits original shape.Fabricsmadeof spandexgive the weruermaximum range .H2P fleeceis also strongand of motion along with tear resistance takes 14.1poundsof force to rip or tear (testparameter:ASTM D1424 Elmendorf tear strengthtest),one of the higheststrength levelsfound in outdoorclothing. Thermoregulation?Polypropylene,reveredfor its wickability, dispersesthe moisture(we're talking sweathere)for quicker evaporationthat puts it at the headof its class.Clothing madeof polypropylenemaintainsthe core temperaturedespiteinternal changeslike built-up body heatand externalchangesin weather or environment.Another exampleof synthetics'superior thermoregulationis Craft's ProZero Extremebaselayer fabric's channel-stitchedpolyester,which hasair pocketsthat keep the air nearyour skin moving to acceleratemoistureevaporationand regulatetemperature. Weight?The four basicmicrofibers- nylon, acrylic, polyester,rayon - weigh lessthan 1.0denier(humanhair is 2-4 deniersper filament).That translatesinto fiberstwice as fine as silk, threetimes finer than cotton and eight times finer than wool. McAlister's classicfront-loadinggame shirt usesa combo of nylon and acrylic liningsto keepit light. Pella'sBird'n Lite vests andjacketsdo the same.And SealSkinzglovesthrow the whole syntheticrangeat you with a nylon and spandexouter layer over a waterproof middle membraneand inner PolartecPower Stretch fleeceinsulatingliner, togethersofterand much lighter weight than any other traditionallined leatherglove. Now imaginethe clingy, itchy feel of wet wool rubbing the back of your neck while steambuilds up insideyour jacket despite the dank, chilly air outside.When you raiseyour armsto mount your gun, the soddensleevesof Grampy's belovedold plaid huntin' coat grab your wrists which meansyou haveto jerk your arm forward to clear the gun butt and properly place it againstyour shoulder. 42


Instead,envisionyourself dry but warm. In fact, you don't even think about how your body feels becauseit offers no distractions.You concentrateon the dog and the impendingflush. Your gun lifts smoothly to your shoulder,no bulk pinching in the fold of your elbow. When it comesto choosing materialsfor upland hunting clothing, hunterswho deny the advantagesof technology can enjoy their wooly ill-logic, assuming,of course,they're not home shiveringunder the covers, having caught a wretched cold after perspiringthrough layers of damp cotton. The rest of us will be out hunting,moving silently,smoothly,throughthe brush with no physicaldisruption other than weight of the birds in our bags.

A Bird Hunter's Toggery: If ItAin't BrokerDon'tFix It by Tovr Knnn Bird hunterstinker. We modify shotgun stocks so they conformto our dimensions.We experimentwith loadsand chokes to get the bestpossiblepatterns.Occasionallywe tweak Mother Naturethroughselectivecuttings,burningsor plantings.But when it comesto hunting gear that has worked well for seemingly forever,why messwith success? We have always used natural materials.Take wool, for example.The world saw its first wool factory in A.D. 50 in Winchester,England, but the fiber had been used as early as 4900 B.C. in the Mediterraneanregion.Wool absorbsmoisture,which, in turn, keepsthe body dry. It resistsdirt and tearing and provides warmth even when wet. If a camp candle falls onto a wool shirt, don't worry; it'll smolderbut not burn. Explorers like Ernest Shackletonand Edmund Hillary wore layers of wool of various thicknesses.If it was good enoughfor them, it's good enoughfor me. Cotton makesfor a perfectfirst layer againstthe skin.It's got a tremendouslyhigh absorptionrate and can soak up 27 times its weight in water.The fabric that results from the weaving processis naturallystrong and gets strongerwhen wet. It's flexible enough to contourto every hunter's shapeand is non-allergenic.Supertight weavesseemas tough as nails and are perhapstougher. Natural materialsblend well with synthetics.Add Lycra for sffetchor polyesterfor toughness.Wool and cotton take colors, like blazeorange,readily. They soak up coatingsthat enhancetheir performance.Impregnatecotton with wax, and it's a waterproof, durablematerial that resiststhe elementsincluding barbedwire or rattlesnakefangs. For wool? A tight weave is all you need.Natural

materialsdon't break down or delaminate when subjectedto heator sunlight. Take the C.C. Filson Company'sproductline for example. The variety of different weights of cotton and wool are matched with a particular warp/weavefor the best levels of comfort and performance.The more cotton and wool, the warmer and tougher the material.Looser weaveslet heatout; tighter weaveskeep it in. It's easyto regulatebody temperatureby combining lightweight, midweight and heavyweighttops or bottoms,with thin next to skin. Add an outer layer of a shootingshirt, brushpantsor chaps, and you're goodto go. Leather products such as boots and gloves last for a long time while they retain their look and feel. Leatherhasa high tensile strength,molds to everyone'sunique shapeand doesn'ttear easily. It not only insulatesbut it also absorbsperspirationand dissipates it at a later time. Abrasion,heat and fungusresistant,leatheris a perfect material for a bird hunter's environments.And it warms to your body temperaturewhich only addsto its suppleness. Natural gear can be maintainedby anyonewithout the need for specialingredients,techniquesor processes.Cotton and wool can be hung up on a peg or dried by the flre. Their natural absorptionand water repellency remain intact. Leather boots can be air dried or placednearthe wood stove.Add a coat of wax,let 'em sit overnight,they're good as new.And the sameappliesfor a wax cotton jacket. The beauty of thesetreatmentsis that they can be done in the rustic environmentof where vou usethem: a huntingcamp. We bird hunterswork through some of the thickest, toughest areasknown to hunters.Thornapple tines, briars and brambles glanceoff shirts,vestsor jackets.We encounterrustedbarbed wire from fencesused long ago. Below freezing temperaturesat morning becomesweltering temperaturesat midday.And when the skiesopen up and the rain falls as if we're standingin a carwash, we needgearthat risesto the challenge. The fact that a product was developedfor a spaceshipis engagingto a reader.You'll neverread abouta sheep'sdiet that resultedin a superior wool that went into the constructionof your vest.You'll neverreadaboutthe fertility of the soil in a cotton field and what a luxuriousboll it yields,do you? Heck, wood is a natural material, and you'll rarely if ever gush over a synthetic stock.It's not glamorouslike materialusedby astronauts,and thereinlies the point. Somedaysoonit seemsas if we'll ride aroundin spaceships like Buck Rogers.I suspecttherewill be a versionof bird hunting then,but maybeit'll be with laserguns insteadof fine doubles. Until then,I'll have at my side gearmadefrom naturalmaterials. Justlike my dogs,just like my birds,just like the way it shouldbe.

WhzreDo YouStandon Things?If this edition of " Both Barrels" inspiresyou to talk bark plecseeither mail or emailyour conments.The UplandAlmanac,P.O.Box 70,FairJax, W 05454or info@uplandalmanac com. W I N T E R 2 01 O


Both Barrels Natural vs Synthetic by Tom Keer originally printed in Upland Almanac  

One of the first fallacies taught in debate class is that there's no logic in an appeal to tradition - that just because something has alwa...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you