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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Lofty Performance

Hobbs Bonded Fibers' RAMTECT™ wool insulation is a lightweight, natural-fiber alternative to polyester fiberfill and down insulation for outdoor apparel.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

At the most recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (ORWM) in Salt Lake City, nonwovens producer Hobbs Bonded Fibers, Waco, Texas, and Doug Hoschek of Portland, Ore. — codeveloper of Polarfleece® polyester fleece in the early 1980s — introduced RAMTECT™, a 100-percent wool, lofty, lightweight nonwoven insulation for outerwear applications, allowing for the design of comfortable, more form-fitting, non-quilted garments as an alternative to the puffy, quilted coats and jackets that have been popular in recent years. The wool in this new patent-pending insulation is produced in the United States, and Hobbs and Hoschek have lined up Post Falls, Idaho-based All Seasons Apparel to produce finished apparel using Ramtect, thus offering a complete Made-in-USA supply chain to brands and retailers.

RAMTECT™’s stabilized construction enables the design of comfortable, form-fitting, lightweight insulated outerwear.

Since the 1960s, when polyester-based fiberfill insulation was developed for outerwear and outdoor gear and comforters, it has taken a central place along with down for such uses, knocking wool out of its traditional place in those applications.

In recent years, wool has been making a comeback in all areas of apparel and textile production, and has been touted for its natural performance properties.

“Technical testing backs up the fact that wool produced in the U.S. is superior in loft and resistant to compression, compared with polyester fiberfill and down,” Hoschek said. “Wool doesn’t flatten, blow away, burn or melt.” The testing was conducted at Texas A&M University for the American Sheep Institute.

Describing how Ramtect is processed, Hoschek said: “We clean and rebuild the fiber into the same type of fleece as it was when removed from the sheep, only it’s smoother and cleaner. We can now make a wool garment that is 75-percent lighter than a heavy wool jacket, one that is as lightweight as a down garment — but it will not have the puffy quilting, and it can be as smooth and fashionable as the most expensive wool coat you can buy.”

He went on to say that puffy coats typically are in a 3- to 13.5-ounce (oz) weight range, with best sellers in the 10.5- to 12.5-oz range. “We have one weight of Ramtect that will allow the creation of everything from an 8.5-oz to a 13.5-oz finished garment,” Hoschek said, adding, “We pack the wool fiber in such a way that we can stabilize the fill, which allows us to make a very comfortable, form-fitting but not tight garment, of any size and shape without quilting.”

Ramtect is targeted to top designers as well as to outdoor apparel brands that want to offer Made-in-USA products. Key brands as well as smaller brands visiting ORWM have expressed interest in the new insulation, which is comparable in price to branded polyester fiberfill.
For more information about RAMTECT™, contact Doug Hoschek djhoschek@hotmail.com.

January/February 2014