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Author Topic: Why white cotton for Anoraks?  (Read 6652 times)

Offline Rob

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Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« on: March 01, 2009, 09:43:50 pm »
Today I was out watching the Sno-X races in town and was amongst some very bundled up people who were dismayed at my attire.

I wore a pair blue jeans, long underwear of course, a fleece undershirt and a fleece black hoody. Good mittens and a trappers hat. I think the temperature was -20 and the sun was intense. I noticed how warming the sun was on the black fabric and was quite comfortable until the wind picked up a bit and started blowing through the sweater.

Then it occurred to me that we are focused on making white tents, white anoraks and so on. What would be the drawbacks of black ones?
Colder is better

Offline theDuck

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 09:59:34 pm »
I was going to ask the same question bu you beat me to it. The sun and any light should warm up any dark colour and not be reflected like  white does.

Offline Kevinkinney

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 10:04:18 pm »
Umm,

Black works pretty darn well. The solar gain is noticeable.

Cheers,

Kevin...and his black parka.
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Offline jaunty

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 10:37:04 pm »
Objects that absorb more radiant heat also give off more radiant heat, in the same proportion.  This means that if you're dressed in black, you exchange more radiant heat with your surroundings, in both directions.  You could say that, as far as radiative heat transfer goes, in black you're less "insulated" from your surroundings.  So you get warmer in intense sunlight, but colder under a clear night sky. 

Because there's relatively little radiant heat available from our surroundings in winter, when the sun's less intense and it doesn't shine as long, and everything else around us is colder, we're often going to have a net loss of radiant heat.  If we wear white, we lessen that net loss.  It's actually the same reason why we're cooler in white on a sunny summer day -- in that case, we're going to have a net gain of radiant heat, but again, the heat transfer will be smaller if we're in white. 

Of course, there are probably many other factors as well, such as the fact that natural cotton is rather white. 

« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 10:43:14 pm by jaunty »

Offline Kevinkinney

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2009, 01:27:19 am »
Oh,

That explains where my snow went.

Kevin.
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Offline jaunty

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2009, 07:14:42 am »

The funny thing about snow is that, while it's very white where visible light is concerned, it's quite "black" in the infrared part of the spectrum. 


Offline pake

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 09:21:22 am »
Science notwithstanding......

..there may another reason for the 'white' garments.

Remember the old story about the girl who for years tried to replicate grandmas meat loaf recipe?

"take a little of this and a little of that, mix it with a pinch of thus and such, and then divide and place into two 3X6 pans..." Despite her best efforts the meat loaf never turned out as good as grandmas. Then one day the girl asks her mother where she can get some of those special pans. "why?" asks mom. "It's the one part of grandmas recipe that I can't get right." she explained. "The pans don't make any difference honey. Grandma used the pans she had."

Native anoraks were fur. The 'explorers' who copied their design and practices used what they had; old sail cloth, egyptian cotton and such, which is....whitish.  ;)

pake

Offline jaunty

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 09:37:15 am »
Quote
old sail cloth, egyptian cotton and such, which is....whitish.  Wink

... as I noted above, though without reference to meat loaf.   :)


Online kinguq

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2009, 12:20:32 pm »
White tents are a different matter. When I lived in Nunavut, virtually all Inuit used white tents. When I lived in Arctic Norway, virtually everyone used dark coloured (usually green) tents, in this case lavvu's.

The difference was striking. Inuit use white tents because canvas is typically white, but also because they like the brightness inside the tent the white colour gives in the 24 hr daylight of summer. With similar light conditions, Norwegians prefer dark tents so they can relax and sleep in the 24 hr light. Maybe this points to a difference in mentality between Inuit and Norwegians!

I prefer white tents as I like the light. However at the moment I am using a green lavvu because that is what I have. I find it very dark and even using a lantern at night does not make it light enough. I would much rather it were white but so it goes...

Regards,

Daniel.

Offline JAK

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2009, 12:22:24 pm »
As someone mentioned, it makes most sense for the insulating layers to be dark, so on sunny days you can remove your outer shell and dry them out. The outer shell however, should be white, not black, because you have to prepare for the worst, which is when the sun is down, not when the sun is out.

Dark wool or fleece.
Light coloured shell.

Offline Kevinkinney

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2009, 02:25:39 pm »
Hi all,

I've bounced back and forth on colors for three seasons. Our two big products are, of course, shell layers. But, they sell to two vastly different types of users.

Most of our natural/white Anoraks spend their working lives with a chest strap across the breast, and toboggan in tow. I take no credit for this. The technology was proven long before I sewed the first one here. In all my years of designing and learning about clothing, I don't think I've ever met a group of folks with a dedication to an odd type of clothing like this. That's pretty cool. <added note> That said, I have no desire to change their color. It just works, so it stays.

Our parkas are different. Mushers love them for their size and breathability. Hunters like the quiet fabric, and the room for movement. Other users have their reasons for buying them, and they are all related to the structure, not the color. I sold 15 parkas last season, and 12 of those folks asked about dying them. A few of those were concerned about being dirty, or looking dirty. Some wanted to break the silhouette of white. Others wanted more solar gain during the day. In each case, the color of garment was a disadvantage. I've done some dyeing here, and it's an ugly process. The obvious solution was to buy a different fabric. In the end, I chose black 10 ounce canvas. It works very well for our boots and our mittens, so I guessed that it would serve well as a coat. I have a few in the field on extended trips right now. I'll report back when those folks have returned.

Cheers,

Kevin
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 10:04:48 am by Kevinkinney »
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Offline Tomd

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2009, 06:39:19 pm »
All I know about the anorak is what I've learned here online. Given that the idea expressed here by those who have one of the white cotton anoraks is that it breathes well in very cold weather and blocks the wind and that the wearers are often working hard pulling a pulk while wearing it, would it not make sense to have it in white so that it reflects heat rather than absorb it?

In my limited experience, the reflection of sunlight off snow can be brutal in terms of heating you up while crossing a snowfield in full gear, so white would seem a good choice.

My Gore-tex parka is red, but I only wear that while stationary or not working hard. I know climbers wear gear of all colors, but I'm not climbing in supercold temps either.  One reason I like the red parka is that it would be easier to spot from a helicopter than most other colors.

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2009, 08:39:30 am »
I have a Empire anorak and have washed it once. I'm not concerned about the "look" of the product, more concerned with the performance. Has anyone tried dying their anorak another colour? I think the Empire anorak comes with a water resistent treatment and this may affect a dye from setting in?

I believe a darker colour would be warmer, but, as stated elsewhere, the anorak is sometimes used for high heat output activities. Still I would think overall, an anorak would benefit from a darker colour.

Offline FlatbowMB

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Re: Why white cotton for Anoraks?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2009, 09:38:36 am »
Here is an interesting article on clothing colour and heat regulation;

http://windowoutdoors.com/WindowOutdoors/Color%20and%20Thermal%20Regulation.html

This abstract is also interesting.  In a military study of the effect of different colors on heat absorption in hot weather, it was found that while black military garments have significantly more heat absorption than white (17%), the difference was not as great as initially predicted.

Oops- forgot to provide the link;

http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0263355
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 07:55:35 pm by FlatbowMB »

Offline Kevinkinney

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Dyeing Anoraks
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2009, 10:01:45 am »
Howdy,

Per the query from DKS, dyeing our anoraks is tough. But it's not a coating or treatment that you're dealing with, it's the tendency for canvas to swell when wet. They are made from tent fabric. We prewash/shrink each one two times before they leave here. When the fabric gets wet in a dye bath, especially the retail dyes you'll find in craft stores, it swells immediately. Nothing else gets through.

If you're still  curious, 'tie-dye' dyes work much better. They permeate the fabric quickly. They will also take a few years off your life, and eat a finger or two. You'll never replicate the deep colors of a fabric that's vat dyed or impregnated at a finishing plant. Most commercial fabrics are colored under extreme heat and pressure. That's the only way they retain any hue after a few years in the sun. Home dye jobs will fade very quickly. I made a pink parka for a friend who had just endured chemotherapy. I dyed the fabric and the ruff, then found flower trim to match. The garment looked nice at first. Two year later, even without exposure to UV or washing, it's heinous. We traded a new one for it.


Kevin.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 01:49:55 pm by Kevinkinney »
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