What Is Thinsulate?

Updated April 17, 2017

Thinsulate material, a type of synthetic thermal insulation from 3M, has become a commonplace material in winter clothing for many brands, including Eddie Bauer, Burton Snowboards, Woolrich and J. Crew. Additionally, Thinsulate can be found in unexpected products like aeroplanes and office equipment. The material uses close-knit microfibers to both trap heat and reduce the flow of moisture. The name "Thinsulate" combines the words "thin" and "insulate;" grammar fiends recognise this kind of words as a "portmanteau."


The 3M Company, which used to be called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, first released Thinsulate in 1979. The company also gained fame for its other ubiquitous products, including Scotch Tape and the Post-it note. Thinsulate technology first gained traction in the ski-wear market; soon after, it was adopted by the aviation and travel industries as an inexpensive heat-trapping material.


The Thinsulate synthetic fibre use extremely thin polyester, which measures to approximately 15 micrometers in diameter. This thinness allows for increased fabric density reduce heat flow while supposedly allowing for increased moisture wicking. According to 3M's official literature, Thinsulate is "breathable," "moisture-resistant" and "both machine washable and dry-cleanable."

Bulk Avoidance

In regard to clothing, Thinsulate is most notable for its ability to reduce bulk and weight, particularly for outdoor enthusiasts like skiers and snowboarders. Moreover, 3M claims that Thinsulate lining keeps wearers warmer than goose-down lining while also occupying much less space. Thinsulate has been incorporated into outdoor gear like sleeping bags and bedding, allowing backpackers to reduce the weight and size of their packs.

Thinsulate Uses

Many people simply associate Thinsulate with outdoor gear such as ski gloves and winter jackets. However, many other industries use Thinsulate in their materials, including the airline industry, which has used Thinsulate to line cockpits, reducing both outside noise and overall aircraft weight. Many other sectors have embraced Thinsulate for its sound-restricting and moisture reducing properties, including the automotive and defence sectors.

Types of Thinsulate

3M now markets many variants on its Thinsulate product. Some Thinsulate products include the X-Static improvement, which claims to reduce antimicrobial odour for sweaty users. The company also offers Thinsulate with Flame Resistance, designed for those needing extra warmth in dangerous outdoor conditions. For the environmentally-conscious, 3M even produces a Thinsulate with recycled fibres that are made up of 50 per cent post-consumer waste.

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About the Author

Arn Goldman is a recent liberal arts grad interested in all things culture, both high and low. He writes about entertainment, tech and sports. Goldman received his B.A. in English and philosophy in 2009 and has written for eHow, Trails Travel and Answerbag.