A breakdown of our waterproof/breathable eXhaust fabrics

1 comment Feb 25, 2021

eXhaust is Level Six’s proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric. This material is used in the construction of all dry wear garments in the Level Six collection. There are currently three variations of this fabric used in Level Six’s dry wear collection: eXhaust UL, eXhaust 2.5, and eXhaust 3.0. The secret to eXhaust is in the Teflon membrane which is what keeps water from passing through the garment. The pores of the Teflon membrane are too small for water molecules to pass through however those same pores are large enough for vapour (sweat) to escape. All eXhaust fabrics are comprised of 4 layers which work in conjunction to perform as waterproof-breathable fabric. Below is a detailed description of each layer and how they work.

  1. Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Finish

This layer is especially important as it’s vital to the breathability aspect of the fabric. The DWR finish is what beads the water off the face of the fabric. Without it, the Nylon Face Fabric (see #2) would absorb water making it impossible for vapour (sweat) to escape. Waterproof-breathable materials in the context of outdoor recreation performance were originally engineered for climbers and mountaineers. They required something to protect them from precipitation and wind despite a high output of body heat causing them to perspire heavily. Most mountaineering regions are arid making breathability a simple function. 

In the context of paddlesports, however, the user is obviously in a very wet environment making breathability a more complex function. Without the DWR finish the Nylon Face Fabric (See#2) will absorb water (without letting it in thanks to our Teflon membrane. See #3) which in turn makes the garment unable to breathe since vapour (sweat) can’t pass through liquid (water).

  1. Nylon Face Fabric

The nylon face fabric is where the weight comes into play. Nylon comes in different weaves and weights called “denier” which is what provides its shear strength and weight. The Nylon face fabric is also what protects the Teflon membrane (see #3) from being damaged while in use. Nylon Face Fabrics with a higher denier provide more durability however, sacrifice breathability. Nylon Face Fabrics with a lower denier are generally more breathable but tend to have lower shear strength and durability threshold.

  1. Teflon Membrane

The Teflon membrane is what provides the actual waterproof-breathable aspect of our garment. As previously explained this layer has microscopic pores which water molecules cannot slip through. The same pores, however, are large enough for vapour molecules to travel through freely. Without this Teflon Membrane, our garment is not waterproof or breathable.

  1. Interior Membrane Shield

The final layer in our eXhaust fabric is the Interior Membrane Shield which is a special screen-print that protects the Teflon Membrane from being damaged from the inside of the garment. Without this layer friction caused by repetitive movements (paddling) would damage the Teflon Membrane which would, in turn, compromise the waterproof integrity of the garment.

Fabric Performance Specifications

eXhaust UL

Denier: 40D x 50D

Waterproof Rating: 5,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 5,000 g/m2


eXhasut 2.5

Denier: 40D x 90D

Waterproof Rating: 5,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 5,000 g/m2


eXhaust 3.0

Denier: 70D x 160D

Waterproof Rating: 10,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 4,000 g/m2


Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining your dry wear garment is recommended, encouraged and imperative to the long-term performance of your garment. Without regular rinsing, cleaning, and maintenance the Teflon Membrane pores can become clogged with silt & minerals. If left unaddressed this can lead the membrane to lose its integrity compromising both waterproof and breathability performance. Below is an outline of basic maintenance steps that can be taken to extend the life of your garment.

  1. Rinsing

Rinsing the garment with fresh water is recommended after each use, especially after use in the ocean or freshwater with high silt and mineral content. Without regular rinsing salt molecules will crystalize in the pores of the Teflon Membrane causing micro-abrasions and thus rendering the waterproof integrity of the membrane useless and prone to leaks. The same can be said about silt and minerals. Furthermore, silt and minerals will clog the pores of the Teflon Membrane causing the garment to lose its breathability. 

  1. Drying

Drying the garment adequately after each use should be an absolute priority and is strongly recommended. Without proper drying, the garment can begin to grow mildew or mould causing the garment to smell bad and ultimately compromising the waterproof-breathable integrity of the piece. Garments should be hung up and given at least 12 hours to dry between uses. Never hang the garment inside out and never leave your garment to dry in direct sunlight. The ideal drying space is indoors in a temperature-controlled environment. If the garment is being dried outdoors it should be hung on a close line in a shaded area. Never place your garment in a machine dryer.

  1. Inspections

It is important to regularly inspect the integrity of the garment paying special attention to interior seam tape. With time seam tape can begin to lift and peel causing the seams to leak and the garment to lose waterproof performance. Seam tape lifting is caused by inadequate drying and cleaning practices. While inspecting the garment the user should also be looking for damage such as abrasions, punctures, tears and delamination. If damage is found repairs are recommended right away.

  1. Cleaning

Garments should be given a thorough cleaning at least once a year. The garment should be hand washed using a cleaner approved by Level Six (Revivex Wetsuit + Drysuit Shampoo) in freshwater. Cleaning ensures that silt, minerals, mildew, and other grime are removed from the Teflon Membrane and Nylon Face Fabric. After cleaning, the garment should be rinsed with fresh water and left to hang dry for at least 24 hours. Never place your garment in a washing machine.

  1. DWR Reproofing

After the garment has been cleaned, rinsed, and adequately dried it is recommended that the garment is reproofed with a DWR finish. Always use a spray-on DWR solvent approved by Level Six (Revivex Durable Water Repellent). After applying the DWR to the garment leave the garment to dry and the DWR to cure for a minimum of 48 hours.

  1. Maintenance

Some eXhaust garments feature latex gaskets and/or waterproof zippers. Gaskets should be kept away from heat, acidic compounds (sunscreen, bug spray), and UV exposure. Gaskets should be treated regularly with a UV protectant compound approved by Level Six (Revivex UV Protectant). Waterproof zippers should be kept clean and clear of sand or debris. Waterproof zippers should be cleaned as needed using a Level Six approved cleaner (Revivex Zipper Cleaner + Lubricant ).

  1. Storage

For long-term storage, garments should be hung in a temperature-controlled environment. If hanging the garment is not an option, the garment should be loosely folded and placed into a dry storage container.

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