Comparing different fabrics and materials is a helpful way of not only learning more about a particular material, but also understanding what makes them different from others and, ultimately, which one you should go for.
Throughout these past two years, we have compared various materials, some in regards to their use in jackets and other garments, and others for their ability to provide insulation.
Today we will have a mix of both these qualities as we look at Fleece and Cotton, two commonly-used fabrics, one especially suited for colder weather and the other excelling at breathability and moisture absorption.
Let’s get right down to it!
- Fleece vs Cotton: Comparison and Differences
- Use in Jackets and Outdoor Garments
- Which One Is Better?
We have covered both of these materials before, but fleece a bit more extensively as it is a fundamental part of many jackets and cold-weather garments.
A material that comes from Polyester, fleece is the synthetic alternative to natural wool. It shares many similarities to it, but it also differs quite extensively. We have covered this topic more in-depth here.
Fleece comes in a number of different thicknesses and types, some of which are fuzzy, whereas others are more robust and rougher. Despite this, fleece has one characteristic that is shared among all of its types: its softness.
Typically, fleece is used for its ability to provide insulation, that is, to trap heat and keep you warm. However, its low water adsorption ability and high durability are two other qualities that make it a very preferred and versatile material to use.
Fleece is commonly used in jackets, namely the ever popular softshell jacket and, of course, fleece jackets that are made entirely out of it. (read also: fleece vs softshell jacket)
It is a breathable and moisture-wicking material that is quick to dry and also very lightweight.
Being a synthetic product that is fairly easy to manufacture and source, fleece is also quite affordable in all of its form, but the regular type is more so than the microfleece, which is the type of fleece to go for if you want all the great qualities of this material.
Now, on the other hand, cotton is a natural, plant-based material that is also widely available, very affordable and highly versatile, which is why it is used in so many different clothes and household textiles.
Its fibers are made of cellulose in the shape of small and thin tubes, hollow in the middle. This is how it is found in its natural form, prior to the boll opening, drying out and then finally collapsing and twisting. This is the last “natural” form of the cotton plant, which is then picked and processed into fibers that are then spun into yarn.
This process is not just a physical one, but also a chemical process that removes the wax coating the boll. Yes, indeed, cotton plants are hydrophobic, which may be surprising to some, considering that cotton absorbs moisture so well.
Aside from being breathable and commendably durable, cotton is also hypoallergenic, a quality that it is not too common in textiles. On top of that, it is very soft and does not irritate the skin either, which is why cotton masks, buds and face pads are made from it.
Typically, cotton is a fabric best suited for milder conditions, preferably dry ones as it absorbs water to an extent that would pose serious risks in the wrong weather.
Let’s now see how these two materials compare and how they are used in jackets and other outdoor gear.
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