I had a chance to talk to Gore Military Fabrics at AUSA 2017 about its new Katana fabric, the high-tech material Arc’teryx LEAF uses in the lightweight combat uniforms it designs for special operations forces.
Arc’teryx unveiled these hot-weather garments – such as the Recce Shirt LT and Assault Pant LT, at SHOT Show earlier this year.
They are made of GORE Katana 5.3oz No Melt/No Drip Nylon-Cotton-ePTFE Blended Weave.
Katana represents a major shift from the Gore-Tex products that have made W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. a giant in the outerwear industry.
“This is new for us,” said Cheryl Booth, a product specialist W.L. Gore, on the exhibit floor of the Association of the United States Army’s 2017 annual meeting.
Katana blends 37.5 percent Nylon, 37.5 percent cotton and 25 percent ePTFE, a material based on Teflon, to create a fabric that is highly breathable, lightweight, fast-drying and durable, Booth said.
The combination makes the Katana fabric much more effective than 50/50 Nylon-Cotton blend found in many military uniforms, Booth said.
“It has been a work horse, but there are a lot of shortcomings … it’s heavy, it radiates heat back to you because, it’s not breathable and it absorbs a lot of water,” she said.
With the Katana weave, “we have removed weight and our fiber is hydrophobic -- so it won’t gain moisture, so it won’t gain weight … so it will dry faster and that is super important,” Booth maintains.
Reducing the weight of the fabric has opened up the structure, so now it’s air permeable, she said.
“What does that mean? If you look at 50/50 NYCO, the air permeability is eight cubic per minute this is 70 cubic feet per minute,” Booth said referring to Katana.
When sweating, that airflow going through the garment will evaporate the moisture, “so you get evaporative cooling,” she said.
Despite its lightweight, it still maintains its strength, said Booth, adding that “durability is key in this end-use.”
Katana-based garments are designed for hot weather – both hot and dry and hot and tropical, “because of its open structure, evaporative cooling, low water gain, and quick dry time.” Booth said.
“It takes less a second for water to move through this system where it takes almost a minute for a water drop to move through Nylon/Cotton blend,” she said.
Katana does sound impressive and most anything from Arc’teryx is well designed, but right now the price is steep. The Recce Shirt LT retails for $275 and the Assault Pant LT retails for $325.