The insulation for a new range of Vaude sleeping bags due in 2010, will comprise 50% Tencel, a more benign form of nasty old viscose (aka Rayon), made from plantation tree pulp in a process that recycles most of the production solvents. Tencel is a relatively new fibre, having first appeared in 1987, and scoring its own textile category, known as Lyocell. Interest in the fibre waned for a while, but has been revived of late, with a whole raft of new fabrications coming to light.
This being one of them. Lenzing, the makers of Tencel, claim that laboratory tests for a Tencel blended wadding, showed less heat loss than an all polyester insulation filling. Furthermore they believe it’s possible to get equal or better warmth than polyester insulation with less thickness of wadding.
Tencel, is a man-made cellulose fibre, sort of a hybrid natural material, with the raw material derived from a renewable resource, yet processed in a fibre extrusion process akin to that used for synthetic fibres. It absorbs moisture as if it was wool, but dries quickly mimicking petroleum based materials. Among its other properties it tends to have excellent drape — the way a material gently follows the curves of a body.
In Vaude’s case, they’ve teamed soft, drapey Tencel with recycled polyester to create the insulation for the ‘Blue Beech’ line of sleeping bags. There will be three models, covering both children and adults. The lining of the bag, although not disclosed, is a “bluesign certified fabric that is especially skin-friendly and meets highest ecological standards.”
Oh, and the reason we were alerted to this was that Vaude picked up a win the 2009 OutDoor Industry Award for “Products with high ecological and sustainable value.”
Look out for Tencel insulation also becoming more prevalent in household bedding and quilted apparel.