Traditional Clothing and Materials
Ventile is a long
staple cotton fabric of the highest quality. It was developed
in World War II for high altitude clothing for the RAF.
It is a natural fibre naturally, soft, windproof and incredibly
hard wearing. I've worn a ventile windproof jacket and over
trousers in hurricane force winds well below freezing and
apart from being blown every where was as comfortable as
could be - ok it's all relative but the weather didn't get
Ventile is the fabric used for the "windies"
that I was issued with as standard wear in Antarctica. These
compromised the outer layers, not insulated as such, but
because of their windproof properties gave more warmth than
would appear. They were worn everywhere, no modern fabric
came close in comfort or versatility.
A friend of mine wore his ventile "windy
jacket" every year on the ski-slopes of Europe on his return,
and still does so, taking great delight in their lo-tech
appearance before heading off down a black run leaving everyone
Ventile garments are often offered as "Hunting
Wear" where they function admirably being resistant to snagging
on vegetation, highly breathable, very water resistant and
exceptionally quiet in use adding a "stealth" aspect to
Ventile is also very versatile, I had a
pair of ventile pants in Antarctica and also when I left
and travelled around South America. I've worn them in all
climates and temperatures and always found them supremely
comfortable. More windproof than moleskin and harder wearing.
They are also superb in really cold weather when teamed
up with some thermal undergarments as the wind just never
gets through them.
Any of the modern (not historical)
pictures on this site that show people in Antarctica will
mainly show them orange or green ventile windproof jackets
- for practicality, they had no rival.
The "secret" of ventile
is simple, it's not laminated, it's not coated,
it's just made from the highest quality raw material.
The finest long staple cotton fibers found only
in the top 2% of the world cotton crop are used.
The cotton is then woven into a very dense "Oxford"
weave pattern that requires up to 30% more cotton
than other conventional fabrics. It is an entirely
natural 100% cotton product.
On wetting, the cotton fibers swell and a combination
of fibers and weave pattern mean that the fabric
"closes up" preventing the passage of water. The
fabric still remains breathable in a way that no
other man-made synthetic water resistant material
protects from anything the elements can throw at
in Antarctica the windiest continent on earth, ventile
is used to make windproof garments for field parties.
very important in Antarctica (and elsewhere too)
when rest after exertion can cause freezing of sweat
if it is not allowed to escape.
- Quiet, no "rustle", so people or animals
can't hear you approaching.
- Comfort, soft and forgiving and doesn't stiffen
up at low temperatures like some synthetic materials
- Durable, tough and hardwearing.
- Reliable, simple construction means no coatings
or separation of layers to worry about.