The opportunity to gain information can come from anyone at any time. On the shuttle bus ride to the 2012 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Las Vegas last week, the opportunity came by virtue of my seat selection. Taking the first seat available and sitting by a total stranger, a polite conversation began thusly: “Hello, how are you, and what do you do?
For some reason the conversation turned to the topic of clothing. Specifically, clothing that has the base material interwoven with fabric that contains the ability to reduce the development of microbiological agents that cause us to offend. That is to say, our clothes sometimes make us stink, and some companies are working to fix that issue.
Several clothing companies at the SHOT Show use this type of process but one company, DRIFIRE, was mentioned and this was fortunate because this led me to the discovery of their flight suit.
DRIFIRE manufactures a variety of fire-resistant garments with odor-resistant properties for the Military and Law Enforcement. DRIFIRE’s product list covers both men’s and women’s clothing — from undergarments to headwear, from base layers to outerwear.
I was particularly interested in their line of combat and flight apparel. All of the products utilize drirelease, a trademarked and patented technology for wicking away moisture and drying the material. In fact, James Warrick, the Air Force Sales Manager for DRIFIRE, conducted a demonstration of the DRIFIRE’s drirelease wicking and drying process. Warrick took the cap from a 16oz water bottle — filling it halfway with water, pouring the water onto the inner liner of a DRIFIRE fleece jacket. The water was absorbed into the fabric leaving a wet moist area. In less time than you could imagine, the water was wicked away from the inner fabric area leaving it dry with no indication of the water.
Then turning the fleece to view the outside layer, there was an observable wet moist area — showing the water was clearly wicked away from the inside. What was important (to me at least) about the demonstration was the same drirelease technology is used in their flight suit being introduced for 2012.
Warrick explained DRIFIRE has combined the drirelease technology with a new fiber blend called Fortrex, which is a proprietary product and is patent pending. Fortrex is a blend of modacrylic and nomex along with other fibers that resulted in a stronger more durable and lighter flight suit. Warrick said the Natick Labs tested the flight suit in Massachusetts and the flight suits meet Mil Spec 83141A and NFPA 2112. Warrick mentioned an additional four-second-pyro burn test was done in North Carolina and Fortrex material passed satisfactorily — if a flame did occur, the material would self extinguish. It should be noted that the DRIFIRE flight suits are Fire Resistant and certain types of flames and extreme heat and fire can over come any type of material.
According to Mike Pena, DRIFIRE’s Director of Federal and Defense Contractors, several Federal Agencies are currently using their flight suit: the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Currently the U.S Customs and Border Patrol are under going wear test trials. DRIFIRE has both one piece and two-piece flight suits and the price varies from vendor to vendor. Combing DRIFIRE’s flight suit with DRIFIRE’s undergarments will enhance the drirelease action for wicking away moisture and will increase the fire protection of the wearer. Further information can be obtained at the DRIFIRE website.
Being a pilot and experiencing the results of the standard nomex flight suit after a long day of flying, locating the DRIFIRE flight suit was one of my best finds of the SHOT Show 2012. If the drirelease (wick water/moisture/sweat away) technology and the Fortrex (FR material/durable/stronger/lighter) work to full extent possible, then flying will be more enjoyable. Most importantly, it will be safer.