Two-times the charm
The term ”softshell” is applied to a wide range of products In the outdoor clothing marketplace. The common factor among these garments is the combining of two fabrics with different properties to create a single material with special qualities. At Tierra, we introduced the concept of Two-Face Stretch (2FS) to define our softshell products.
We use 2FS in pants and jackets designed for high-intensity activities that demand wear resistance—like hiking, climbing and other alpine pursuits. Our broad range of 2FS pants has proven extremely popular with customers—from the thin, soft, stretchy but durable Pace Pant, to our heavy-duty Ace Pant, a perennial favourite among ice climbers, ski tourers skiers and ice skaters.
Bonding vs. Weaving
There are two ways of combining the materials in softshells: bonding and weaving.
In bonding, glue and warm rollers are used to create a bond between the materials. A typical combination would see a smooth, stretchy, outer weave of Polyamide and Lycra bonded to a thin, brushed, knitted polyester fleece. Occasionally, a membrane is also used between the layers to create a completely waterproof product.
With weaving, the methodology is referred to as a ”double weave”: two different fabrics are woven parallel to each other, with the lower’s weft crossing the upper’s warp at regular intervals, creating a strong mechanical bond unaffected by wear, heat or time. Typical combinations here are a stretchy outer of Polyamide and Lycra woven with a stretchy inner of Polyester and Lycra; the Polyamide outer provides durability and weather protection, the Polyester inner provides softness and moisture-transfer capacity.
Two x Two-Face Stretch
Both these types of constructions are used to create the different types of clothing under the material name Two-Face Stretch.
For instance, we use a bonded Two-Face Stretch with a Gore membrane which, combined with taped seams, creates clothes that are watertight, stretchy and comfortable. Jackets and pants with this material are very good for alpine and backcountry skiing, where the weather intensity can vary greatly over the course of a day. These clothes are slightly bulkier and therefore take up more space than a classic shell jacket or pants.
With double-weave Two-Face Stretch, on the other hand, we can create a stretchy material with high exterior wear-resistance, yet a soft inside—something difficult to achieve with traditional weaves. Treated with fluorocarbon-free impregnation, these garments are also windproof and water repellent with good breathability.
Two Faces, Three Thicknesses
We use three different weights of double weave Two-Face Stretch in our garments. The thinnest weight, Two-Face Stretch Light, can be found in the mean’s or women’s Pace Pant, and is considered thin, soft and stretchy. Only after one put these pants to the test does their durabity shine through. Our medium weight, Two-Face Stretch Versatile, is appreciated for its extraordinary stretch; the Lite Track Pant has been an obvious choice for those looking for durable trousers for activities that involve a lot of movement as it holds up against the wildest tests. Our thickest weight, Two-Face Stretch Durable, is the material used in our iconic Ace Pant, a favorite among ice climbers and ski tourers.