The Polartec line of synthetic fleece fabrics protects the wearer from a variety of weather conditions in comfort. Polartec fabrics have all but replaced natural fabrics in the outdoor sporting category. These fabrics range from durable outerwear to warm, lightweight foundation garments. Polartec LLC offers a wide range of fabrics for active lifestyles and also supplies technologically advanced fabrics to the armed forces, police, utility workers and firefighters.
In 1979, textile manufacturer Malden Mills Industries, located in Lawrence, Massachusetts, developed Polarfleece. This warm, lightweight synthetic fabric was an immediate hit with sports enthusiasts for its moisture wicking and quick-drying qualities. Malden Mills' success with Polarfleece led to the creation of new lines of advanced synthetic fabrics to meet the growing needs of outdoor outfitters. In 1991, Polarfleece products were registered under the trademark of Polartec Climate Control Fabrics. Polartec LLC was formed in 2007 from the acquired assets of Malden Mills. Today the company has manufacturing plants around the world and produces more than 300 different fabrics for outdoor outfitters such as Patagonia, Marmot and The North Face.
Polartec fleece fabrics fall into three categories, according to the company's website. Comfort fabrics serve as the first layer next to the skin. They breathe, draw moisture away from the skin, resist odours, dry rapidly and have a soft feel. Warmth fabrics consist of lightweight, insulated fleece designed for everyday casual wear as well as outdoor activities. These thermal fabrics come in a variety of textures and weights. Shelter fabrics act as the outermost fabric layer to provide a shield against severe wind and cold.
The different types of Polartec fabrics include varying fleece weights, textures and composition. For example, Polartec Power Stretch, a light fabric made of dual layer fleece, features four-way stretch allowing for complete range of motion. Polartec Windbloc, an outerwear fabric made from heavier weight, stretchable fleece, is 100 per cent windproof and water-resistant. The Polartec Classic fabric collection offers the original Polartec fleece fabrics in a choice of three weights providing varying degrees of warmth without adding bulk.
Polartec fabrics win high marks from outdoor enthusiasts for their quality, easy care, comfort and durability. These fabrics retain their flexibility and insulating qualities when wet, absorb very little moisture and dry very quickly. Safely wash Polartec fabrics in warm water and tumble dry on low temperatures. Home sewing or small commercial clients can purchase cut fabric yardage directly from Polartec through Mill Direct Textiles.
The soft nap surface of Polartec fleece has a tendency to attract and trap outdoor debris like sticky grasses, burs, stickers and seeds. Polartec fabrics generate static electricity charges. Use of fabric softeners on certain Polartec fabrics will inhibit the wicking and drying characteristics. Polartec fabrics cost considerably more than lesser-quality fleece products.