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Danny, I live in Singapore (26-34 Celsius weather & 80+ % humidity) & would like to deploy the Kinetic as a biking rain-jacket for the ever present threat of a tropical storm/shower. Please let me know if the Kinetic was meant for such weather conditions & if so, is there any hope that shipping to Singapore is possible in this drop.
" waterproof polyurethane membrane "
I currently live in Hong Kong, with riding experience here, in SG and Thailand. Personally, no way would I use a jacket like this in Singapore, NO membrane jacket breathes enough for the tropics. If you keep riding through a rainstorm, all the rain does is cool you off a bit.
I do have various eVent or GTX jackets. They are saved strictly for non-tropical environments.
You are absolutely correct of course. A monolithic PU membrane fabric is not going to breathe as well as something like eVent which is air permeable, despite what Danny's chart suggests. And no WPB jacket breathes well enough to use in high humidity climates.
Can you explain this comment more or point me to a resource to learn more abt this kind of info?
Just use Google for a start, there is loads on it. Look up the breathability figures for any membrane/laminate versus untreated polyester fabrics.
Or just hold up a couple of different types of jacket up to your mouth and try to blow through them. A simple nylon shell, a WPB shell, maybe a softshell. That should give you a very good idea of how well waterproof/breathable fabrics do for permeability.
In a nutshell... there are three types of WPB fabrics. Those which have little holes, and those which don't, and those which are combination of the two. Event is an example of the first, Hyvent an example of the second and Classic Gore-tex is an example of the third.
True microporous membranes (like Event) are generally the most breathable in the real world because they work by actually letting air pass through the holes of fabric. But they don't let much through, so even though they breathe relatively well, they will still steam up inside if you are sweating a lot. You can tell if a membrane is truly microporous by, as RockyMountains says, seeing if you can blow air through it.
Monolithic membranes like Hyvent or H2No (at least the cheaper versions) are generally made from a solid layer of polyurethane which does not allow air to pass through. They "breathe" (read: transfer moisture) via molecular wicking - essentially the water has to be diffused through the material and then evaporated away. These membranes may perform well in lab tests but in reality they are generally far less breathable. They work best in cold, dry environments.
The hybrids like Gore-tex use a microporous membrane with a thin monolithic membrane for protection. This is because skin oils degrade the PTFE (Teflon) that the microporous membranes are made from. Because the monolithic membrane is thin it diffuses moisture more quickly than a typical PU membrane, but still does not allow air to pass through. Although the newer Gore Pro is claimed to be genuinely microporous.
While most people find that microporous membranes are superior in terms of breathability, they also can temporarily lose breathability due to clogging of the pores. Fabrics with monolithic membranes like Hyvent or Gore-tex won't have this issue, although they can still lose breathability from wetting-out of the face fabric. All WPB fabrics benefit from being washed regularly.
Bottom line: you may find the a microporous membrane jacket keeps you less clammy/more comfortable for longer than a monolithic or hybrid membrane. However, no membrane (so far) is breathable enough to keep you from steaming up if you are sweating a lot.
Super helpful info. Thank you. And the blow method @RockyMountains mentioned sounds helpful. I run a lot (ultras) and have been using this for a few years now: https://www.amazon.co.uk/North-Face-Feather-Storblocker-Jacket/dp/B00PLD4QYM
I love it but have wondered if there is something better out there, since it's now relatively old. Since I get wet from running, it seems the best option is whatever would dry the fastest and not leave me feeling soaked when it is a downpour. I feel it's performed incredibly well in this regard and I tend to tie it around my waist when I warm up, and it drys quickly that way. The more I think about this and related your comments it also seems this is only relevant to me to avoid getting cold. If it was warm and raining (a situation I have not experienced yet, which is kind of crazy), then I'd probably not use a rain jacket but no idea if it was something really long (10+ hours).
I spoke to someone who worked in one of the main UK labs that did industry testing for WPB fabrics. His very British take on it was "the test numbers don't mean anything, you just need a jacket with big pit zips." i.e. the degrees of "breathability" between fabrics only varied from "not at all" to "okay if you're not doing any exercise" and that jacket design would trump WPB fabric choice.
For short, high activity environments, I just rely on shelled microfibre, treated with a water repellant. My body heat pushes moisture out faster than it get get in unless it's a torrential downpour, in which case I'd probably be getting wet anyway. I wouldn't rely on this for mountaineering or multi hour, obviously.
A step up from this would be to look into UK Paramo clothing, which is rated for waterproof. It is a very different paradigm to standard WPB fabrics though so the idea hasn't taken off in the US.
Thanks so much for the info. I'd say my situation is the same to the one you described, so then it's more of a question of how quickly things dry, how quickly I'm moving or whether I have warm enough gear. I have a friend who recently got knocked out of a race because of hypothermia. An amazing trick is to have a cheap one dollar poncho if you get freezing rain. Your wet underneath but your body heat gets trapped in with you. I need to ask him if he had one or if he just needed even warmer gear underneath. Paramo looks really interesting but the weight looks like a no go for my purposes where it's all about layering and de-layering most efficiently which is to say staying warm with the least amount of weight.