One of the top questions we’re asked is whether our dog fleeces are waterproof or not. While synthetic fleeces aren’t technically waterproof, they’re effective at keeping dogs dry. Synthetic Polar Fleeces are a popular choice for many outdoor professionals and the material itself was originally pioneered and developed by Patagonia and Malden Mills as a lightweight, durable manmade alternative to wool. Since its invention in the early 1900s synthetic fleece has fast become a staple material for garments worldwide and has become an increasingly popular material for dog apparel too. In this post we’ll explore exactly how fleeces keep dogs dry.
Modern day fleece, while inspired by and named after natural sheep fleece, is an entirely manmade, synthetic material. It’s made out of plastic (either virgin or recycled) to create a warm, durable fabric that’s incredibly soft to the touch. Fleece often goes by many names, which can be confusing. However the majority of the time we’re referring to the same Polyester based material. You may have heard garments being referred to as ‘Polartec fleece’ and wondered what makes that variation so special? In fact Polartec and Polarfleece are the names used for any fleece material made by Malden Mills, it’s essentially two of their registered brands. Polar fleece is a term often used to describe thicker fleece material, in contrast to microfleece, which is thinner. Typically you’d wear a microfleece garment under a polar fleece, as part of your layering system when adventuring outdoors.
Synthetic fleece is often marketed as being ‘waterproof,’ which isn’t technically accurate. You wouldn’t want to head out in a prolonged heavy rainstorm wearing just fleece alone! However, fleece will keep you dry in light rain on its own if you’re out for short periods. That is until the fleece itself becomes saturated. It can also be paired underneath a treated DWR waterproof ‘hardshell’ material (such as a Goretex jacket) to create an effective breathable system that keeps you dry for hours.
Fleece is great at wicking away moisture, as the fibres have a tubular structure similar to our capillaries. Water slowly works its way up these fibres and away from the wearer until they reach the outer layers. This process not only helps prevent water coming in, it also helps moisture leave the garment, as the fabric is breathable. This is what keeps the wearer warm and dry while wearing a fleece garment. However, after prolonged exposure to moisture (such as a torrential downpour) the fleece will become saturated and heavy. This is because the gaps between the fibres are now filled with water instead of air.
There are two main ways you can use a dog fleece jumper, either during or after a walk. It’s the moisture wicking property of fleece that helps keep your dogs dry on walks. However, thanks to the cylindrical structure of the fibres, they can wick both ways. This is why fleece also helps dry your dog quicker if they wear their jumper straight after a wet walk. As the moisture wicking works both ways, fleeces can also be used to help dogs dry quicker when they’re worn after walks.
It’s worth mentioning of course that it only works for areas covered by their jumper. Your dog’s feet, head and tail will still be affected by the weather. However, after exposure to light rain in short periods, your dog’s body and legs will remain dry and warm. If you’re planning to be out for longer adventures, you can pair your dog’s fleece under another jacket to keep them dryer for longer. Our Quilted Dog Coats are a perfect example of this layering technique, as they’re made with one inner layer of fleece and a water resistant outer layer.
Putting a fleece on your pup before you leave the house will help keep their fur dry while out on your adventure. However, if your dog enjoys bog snorkelling, dock diving or sea swimming, this method will have little effect. Once your dog has submerged themselves in water, their fleece jumper will become soaked and saggy. The gaps in the fibres will be full of water and mud instead of air. It’s quite uncomfortable dragging around a heavy, wet fleece, especially if you’re a smaller breed like a Dachshund. Your dog will likely delegate the fleece carrying task to you – even more so if they’ve rolled in something smelly! You’ll have to spend time washing and wringing it out when you get home so it’s ready for the next walk.
If you’re the owner of a water-obsessed dog, you’ll likely have more success using your fleece after walks. Simply pop it on when you get back to the car and the wicking process will absorb the dog’s moisture into the fleece. Chances are your dog will be nice and dry by the time you get home and your fleece won’t feel too wet to touch either. Simply leave it to dry on an airer for a couple of hours and it’ll be ready for your second walk of the day. This is a great technique for longer haired dogs that take hours to dry. You can even use one of our specialist drying dog coats, which combine fleece’s moisture wicking properties with a Bamboo towel lining for extra absorbency. This method negates the need to towel dry your dog yourself, making your dog owning life just that little bit easier.
How do you like to use your dog fleece? Does your dog prefer wearing it before, after or during their walk?
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