Today we examine one of the toughest, most useful clothing materials modern science has provided for our troops. There are many trademarked terms for it (DuPont®'s Nomex™ for instance) but they all refer to a single group of very similar polymer compounds called aramid.
Aramid is a shortening of aromatic polyamide. Does aromatic mean it smells funny? Turns out the answer is no. To a chemist, aromatic means the molecules of a compound are organized into a super-stable, damage-resistant and nonreactive configuration. Which aramid definitely is!
Aramid is used in most of today's battle garments because of its incredible resistance to heat. Many fabrics are flame-resistant in that they will not burn if exposed to flame, sparks or floating cinders. Aramid material, along with having a very high flame resistance, is extremely useful because it never actually melts. The fabric can endure temperatures up to 932ºF, after which the material starts to break down without melting. Unfortunately, this is not the case with more primitive synthetic clothing. Military history is littered with cases of super-heated steam or the flash of an explosion causing regular polyester to melt to the skin of the victim, causing far more damage than the actual blast. Aramid fabrics have no such weakness.
Flame-resistant Face Protection
Aramid fibers can be woven very tight and very thin. This Potomac™ Balaclava carries the same high flame-resistance and no-melt properties of thicker materials, while still allowing your face to breathe and wicking away moisture during high activity. This version is also treated for UV protection (no sunburn!) and bacterial-resistant for long-lasting freshness.
Warm, Soft and Flame-Resistant
Aramid fibers can be woven into other traditional fabrics to offer enhanced flame resistance. These Long Johns offer snuggly soft comfort thanks to cotton, while adding resistance against the same high-heat environments full-strength aramid excels at.
Comfort for Extreme Environments
Aramid fibers offer tremendous mobility combined with unmatched durability. This Long-Sleeved Combat Shirt is light and moisture-wicking for the hottest desert or jungle environments. Made to fit under typical body armor configurations, it moves as a part of your body during long days on the move and every twist of your torso. Reinforced elbows offer extra abrasion-resistance, without compromising arm movement.
Essential Mobility For Emergency Situations
Worried your hands are going to feel like oven mitts? These FROG Aramid Gloves give hands full range of movement for solving high-dexterity problems. Fix equipment, use delicate control systems and operate your rifle unhindered by extra bulk. Hands stay warm, yet breathe naturally to keep working under stress.
No Rain on Your Parade
With additional treatments, aramid fabrics can be made windproof and waterproof like these Massif® Elements™ ABU Pants. Light and breathable, yet immune to rain and wet environments. All while still tremendously flexible for bending and kneeling during any situation in the field.
Each one of these clothing pieces uses aramid material in a different way to infuse typical combat clothing with added durability, comfort, flexibility and of course heat-resistance. Today's polymers are ready to fight in the most demanding environments, while keeping you cool every step of the way.
Something to think about the next time you're shopping for work, hunting or other outdoor clothing. You never know what's around the next bend!