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New Gore fabric cuts down on weight and packing size of tents

Sep. 29, 2013 - 10:30AM   |  
Gore Pyrad, a novel tent-fabric treatment that offers waterproofing, breathability and fire resistance in a single layer, is used in the Nemo ALCS, shown here during a rainy outing in southern Utah.
Gore Pyrad, a novel tent-fabric treatment that offers waterproofing, breathability and fire resistance in a single layer, is used in the Nemo ALCS, shown here during a rainy outing in southern Utah. (Rob Curtis/Staff)
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Gore has developed a novel tent-fabric treatment that offers waterproofing, breathability and fire resistance in a single layer that significantly cuts down on the weight and packed size of shelters.

Called Gore Pyrad, it is now used in the Marine Corps’ new Arctic Shelter, adopted in May, and is incorporated into a potential front-runner for the Marine Corps’ next two-man tent produced by Nemo.

“We want to improve user mobility, comfort and protection,” said Eric Gaver, Gore’s product specialist for tents and shelters. “It is light, packable and combines all functionality into a single layer of fabric so you don’t need to use it with a rainproof fly.”

Traditional tent configurations require a fire-resistant layer and a separate non-breathable fly that is strung over the base layer to prevent water from entering the sleeping compartment. That complicates setup and packing.

“Gore has demonstrated the ability to combine key performance functions into a single barrier wall, eliminating the need for an inner wall,” according to company literature. “As a result, weight can be reduced by as much as 30 percent using Gore-Tex Shelter Fabric.”

Beyond its fire-resistant and waterproof capabilities, Gore-Tex Shelter Fabric treated with Pyrad offers blackout qualities that prevent light from escaping the tent and also possesses near-infrared reflective qualities, making it difficult to spot even with the aid of electronic devices.

“When used forward, it is important to protect the users against the ubiquitous presence of [night vision goggles] and other detection aids that exist on the battlefield,” Gaver said. “We are bringing the only lightweight, breathable, fire-resistant fabric with blackout capabilities to the market. And waterproof is a given.”

The Pyrad treatment has allowed Gore to use its traditional textiles and membranes that prevent water and wind from entering, while allowing moisture and carbon dioxide to escape. Gore attempted to enter the tent market in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but was unable to comply with flame-resistant regulations until now.

An additional advantage to Pyrad is its versatility. It can can be used to treat a large number of fabrics, including typically flammable ones such as nylon and polyester, according to company representatives. Those fabrics are appealing because they are light, easy to work with and easy to print, but have traditionally posed a threat to users near flame.

While Gore did not have a hand in designing the Arctic shelter, which replaces a Korean War-era 10-man tent made of canvas, its fabric became an important part of creating a new portable structure that could accommodate more than a squad of Marines in winter conditions.

The Gore-Tex Shelter Fabric with Pyrad can be used in tough conditions ranging from negative 40 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, in rainfall of more than two inches per hour, with winds of more than 55 mph. It can also withstand up to four pounds of snow per square foot.

Gore plans to approach the Marine Corps to incorporate the fabric into the next-generation two-man tent. The tent was on the fast track to procurement, but the Corps shifted focus after identifying the need for a new Arctic Shelter as more critical, Gaver said.

“Our intent now is to go back to the Marine Corps and impart some of the same advantages from the Arctic Shelter to the two-man tent,” he said.

They will pitch Nemo’s ALCS, a single-man tent that can be zipped to another to make a two-man tent in seconds.

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