Last Updated on December 31, 2020
If you’ve ever shopped for clothing for your biking or general outdoors wear, then you might have come across the phrase ‘Thinsulate’ cropping up a few times and been slightly confused as to what exactly it means.
If you are slightly worried as to the exact definition of this rather strange material, you need not worry any further – we have an in-depth article giving you the inside skinny on this unique and comfortable fiber that is ideal for high-activity hobbies that require an increased level of warmth.
We’ll tell you what Thinsulate is made from, why it was originally designed and in what situations it is best to be used.
After you’ve learned a little more about this useful substance, you might even be tempted to rush out and buy yourself a pair of Thinsulate gloves or socks!
What Is Thinsulate?
Thinsulate was created and patented by the company 3M in 1960, which primarily manufactured it for ski apparel, expanding the line in 1979 to include general winter wear.
It’s no surprise that Thinsulate has been derived from the words ‘thin’ and ‘insulate’, marketing itself with the slogan ‘warmth without the bulk’. This apparel is designed to retain body heat but not restrict movement, which is very important for sports such as skiing.
When first introduced into the market, Thinsulate was a lot more expensive than the average terminal underwear, but with the increasing popularity and demand, the price has been thankfully driven down, now easily affordable for bikers, swimmers and casual skiers.
As a result, Thinsulate is now used as a dampening material, generating over $150 million in revenue in 1997 from increased marketplace demand. It is now also used for army clothing since the ’80s.
But what is in this unique technology and material that makes Thinsulate so sought after by outdoor enthusiasts?
How Thinsulate Works
You might be wondering how something can be lightweight but also provide you with an industrial level of warmth and insulation. Well, it all has to do with the density of the fabrics that Thinsulate uses in the weave of their clothing.
The fibers are knitted in such a tight way that heat is prevented from escaping through the pores between the fibers. However, the fibers are not so dense as to not allow moisture to escape. This will be important to keep your skin ventilated, which is crucial when exercising.
When exercising it will be very important that your skin be able to evaporate naturally so that you won’t get chafing and sores from skin-on-skin rubbing.
If you have socks made from Thinsulate material, then this will be very important for preventing blisters that can accumulate from increased rubbing on the shoes during intense activity.
Retaining heat and reducing excess moisture is what Thinsulate excels at and that’s why it is so highly rated by professional sports players and enthusiasts.
Thinsulate is also used by professionals in industries such as cold storage management, ice fishing, deep-sea trawler fishing and any other occupation that requires you to be in ice-cold conditions for a long period.
The insulation given by Thinsulate socks will prevent potentially lethal conditions such as frostbite.
More Thinsulate Science
As we’ve already mentioned, Thinsulate fibers are denser than regular polyester fibers, coming at around 15 micrometers in diameter.
The thermal resistance, or the R-value, of a Thinsulate product will vary depending on how thick the fabric is constructed. US R-values range from 1.6 for 80-grams of Thinsulate fabric to 2.9 for 200-grams of Thinsulate fabric.
The polymers used in Thinsulate vary, although most are made from polyethylene terephthalate. Thinsulate has been calculated to provide 1.5 times more warmth than down and twice the warmth of other materials that have a higher loft.
Because of the sheer versatility and durability of Thinsulate, it has now also been introduced to the construction of automobiles.
Companies such as Porsche have used it for the inside of the fabric roof of their Boxster car. This reduces the heat loss from the inside of the car, making it both very heat- and fuel-efficient.
Thinsulate also helps reduce noise loss in the Boxters, which will also help reduce the volume and ultimately the power output of your radio.
A Thinsulate lining makes your vehicle over twice as energy-efficient as your average car. Sedans, Ford pickups, Buicks and even F-16 fighter jets now use Thinsulate on the inside lining of their driver compartments.
What Else Can You Use Thinsulate For?
Thinsulate has grown on the market to the point where users and companies are coming up with more inventive and ingenious ways of using this material.
Thinsulate is now used on the interior of houses to insulate the entire home. It can also be used to reduce the noise levels in every room of the house.
When it comes to retaining heat and noise, then Thinsulate does the job like no other!
It’s no wonder that in 2015 Thinsulate was awarded the Top 10 insulator by the sportswear trade fair ISPO.
Our Final Say
So, there you have it, when it comes to buying a material that is both lightweight, breathable, flexible for high-activity sports and retains heat, you won’t be able to beat Thinsulate.
The fact that it has been used in such a diverse range of scenarios such as clothing, vehicle and house insulation is a testament to how good it is.
If you’re working in colder outdoor conditions, Thinsulate will be indispensable for keeping yourself well insulated and preventing blisters and frostbite, both very serious conditions that can become lethal if they are left untreated.
If you are a biker who anticipates spending hours and hours cycling in rainy and cold conditions facing high-speed winds, you’ll want to consider covering yourself top to toe in Thinsulate.
It’s affordable for the average biker and will make both competitive and casual cycling a lot more comfortable.
So when you’re next browsing for some cycling accessories online, be sure to add some Thinsulate apparel to your shopping cart!