Elder Irish Woman working on an spinning wheel - around 1900 Library of Congress collection - Public Domain Picture
Elder Irish Woman on an spinning wheel (around 1900)

Reference list of fibers and materials used in travel gear making

last updated 28th of April 2107

This page is a constantly work in progress referring tool to clarify the relevant properties of the most used fibres and materials in the outdoor gear making. After this short introduction there is a list of fibres and materials description in alphabetic order.

Properties of the fibres/materials listed here has to be taken as a theoretical guidance: production process and the quality of the raw material used changes drastically the reality of the final product.

When you evaluate a synthetic fibres take the result of the test reported on the etiquette with a certain degree of doubt . Such tests are leaded by the brands itself and take place in the closed artificial environment of a laboratory that has much fewer variabilities than reality.


It is a textile made of nylon or nylon mixed with other natural fibres as cotton, used widely in the clothes, luggage, and backpack making. It is extremely durable and very resistant to abrasions, tears, and scuffs, probably. Due to its qualities it is often used in military products. It was originally developed by the French Dupont in 1929, now it is possessed by Invist, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, a huge American multinational corporation based in Wichita, Kansas, United States.
Cotton is a natural fibre obtained by plants, it is mainly composed of cellulose. It is Hypoallergenic with a nice sensation on the skin. Almost inelastic it is moderately strong against mechanic, much less than silk and less than linen and wool. It is resistant to the sunlight. It has a great capacity to absorb water and allows the evaporation of the sweat, so it is highly breathable. This same quality make it weigh a lot when wet (27 times its weight when immersed in water). It can’t be considered quick dry. It is adapt to warm climate. It is cheap
It is a vowed fabric made from different materials as cotton, silk, Polyester, and polypropylene, inter vowed with threads of a stronger material, nylon most of the time. They are tear and rip resistance and light. Ripstop® nylon may be waterproof, water resistant, fire resistant. It was developed during the II World War as substitute of the silk to make parachutes. It can be distinguished by regular nylon due to its regular pattern grid of heavier threads on the fabrics. Ripstop® is much lighter than Cordura but considerably less resistant to abrasion.
It is a way of woving fibres in a sort of double layer that give them a soft nice touch and more resistance. It was traditionally made of silk but now it is made out of any natural and synthetic fibres. It is expensive.
It is a natural fibre obtained from the fur of some funny animals like sheeps and goats. It is the first choice of the wolf when he dresses up to blend in a herd. The fact that it is beloved by most of the Grandmothers is a worldwide guarantee. Wool is a thermoregulatory textile, It retains a cushion of dry air on the skin helping your body to keep its natural temperature. That´s why it is traditionally used both in desert and in cold climate. Wool has excellent absorbency and releases the moisture to keep the body dry. The same characteristic make of wool a slow dry textiles. Wool has good elasticity, resiliency, resistance. It is durable and ignites at higher temperature than cotton and other fibres, so it is naturally fire resistant. Wool is hypoallergenic