How do we get from ancient times to the beautiful baby blanket shown at our right?
Here is a rough version of the history of Fleece. Throughout the ages, mankind tried all manner of clothing to keep warm. We went from animal skins such as bear, raccoon, squirrel, etc. to refined natural fibers but each had their own problems. Skins come from animals. Animals are not that hard to catch. Refined fibers, such as cotton and wool. All natural fibers had one thing in common, they didn't really keep you warm when they got wet. They also were heavy and several layers were required to provide significant insulation in extreme colds.
In the old days, say before 1980, anyone out of doors during extremely cold weather had no choice but to just bundle up and go for it. Layers upon layers of heavy course fabric which restricted movement and performed miserably when damp from internal and external sources.
Then, in 1981 a company called Malden Mills invented Polartec fleece and forever changed the way the world dresses for cold weather.
Fleece is soft to the touch, extremely light weight, dries quickly, still insulates when wet and pound for pound provides twice the insulation properties of merino wool and four times that of cotton. The perfect source for a baby blanket right? Its light weight helps insure less perspiration therefore remaining cooler and dryer during periods of inactivity and then retains the body's heat exceptionally well during periods of activity - such as crying or kicking.. The combination is perfect for the stop-and-go world of cold weather sports. The fabric is constructed of 100% polyester. Polyester is hypoallergenic material. It doesn't absorb water, break down in appearance or absorb odors. Fleece is also very durable and can last years and years.
But it's not just for explorers\ and athletes. Fleece has found a home on the job site, in kids clothing and on every branch of the military. In fact, in 1999 Time Magazine named Polartec fleece "One of the hundred great things of the 20th century."
Garment layering has been the long-accepted practice for staying warm in extreme colds. Long underwear has been around for years, as has extreme outerwear such as the oil skins worn by fishermen for 100 years. Recently great technical strides have been gained in both the underwear or "base layer" of clothing and the outerwear or "shell" layer. But it is the intermediate layers that really make the difference in cold-weather comfort and that's where fleece comes in. Although it can be worn as an outer layer, the seemingly endless variety of fleece combinations for intermediate layering have made this the perfect fabric for trekking in the summer Appalachians or on an Everest summit attempt.
And now, more than ever, there is a variety of fleece products available to suit every occasion. During its first decade of use, all fleece was generally the same except for the "weight" or thickness of the weave. The heavier the weight of the fabric, the more insulating capability it offered.
Now you have learned more than you ever thought you needed about fleece. And all you wanted was a nice little blanket to keep your baby warm.
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