This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
From: Jim Carson <email@example.com>
[Ed note: From a summary Jim posted]
Fluffy, fleecy stuff also called Polarplus and Synchilla. Comfortable.
Incredibly warm, especially under something that breaks the wind.
Doesn't wick moisture out very well. Breathes very well.
Comfortable. It is breathable and water repellent (but NOT water proof).
Seems to absorb a small amount of water if it is really getting drenched
From a "breed of fine-wooled white sheep originating in Spain and producing
a heavy fleece of exceptional quality." I guess you could treat this as
normal 100% wool.
An improvement on Polypro. The big advantage is heat resistance so
you can put it in the dryer. Balance that against the extra cost.
This stuff seems more like a plastic bag than the revolutionary wicking
material it is advertised as.
Trademark name for Dupont polyester. Woven fabric made from dacron is
similar to nylon ripstop or taffeta, but not as stretchy. Many of the
better clothing insulations are made from dacron. They are usually refered
to by more specific trademark names, like quallofil, hollofil, polarguard,
Used for its stretch, mostly a warm weather (>65 degrees) thing.
A teflon based membrane with microscopic holes. Gortex's claim to
fame is that it will let water vapor (from perspiration) through, but
not liquid water (rain). It blocks wind fairly well too. The
membrane is delicate, so it always comes laminated between 2 layers of
other material. It does not breathe enough. There are less expensive
Does not wick very well. Can be uncomfortable. Troublesome to
care for (e.g. can pill badly) Will keep you fairly warm if soaked.
Not very wind resistant. Melts in the dryer.
Wicks moisture away. Very comfortable. Comes in different weights
for more/less warmth. [lots of favorable things about it... only
really unfavorable thing is the co$t]
60/40 cloth -
This is a cloth with nylon threads running one direction, cotton in
the other. It was the standard wind parka material before Goretex came
along, and is considerably less expensive. Good wind resistance,
fairly breathable. Somewhat water resistant, especially if you spray
it with Scotchguard, but won't hold up to a heavy rain.