Radiant heat reflective clothing
To insulate homes sometimes glass wool is used with on one side a film with a thin layer of aluminium.
The glass wool insulates by still air in the glass wool,
and the layer of aluminium reflects the radiant heat back.
This radiant heat is also called thermal radiation or infrared radiation.
I wanted to use this same principle to keep myself warm.
The insulation by still air can be achieved with synthetic batting/wadding,
but also normal clothes will do.
The layer of aluminium (or some other metal) should be
breathable and must be on the outside.
To protect the aluminium layer an extra layer of fabric could be added.
For good insulation, the layer of aluminium must be on the outside.
For when the layer of aluminium would be on the inside, then the aluminium
is heated by the body, causing it to transfer heat radiation to
For example, a raincoat doesn't need to be breathable, but
because I want to wear it indoors constantly,
it is necessary that the fabric is breathable.
For the heat-reflective effect, it doesn't matter whether the layer
of aluminium blocks the wind or not.
In 2017 it turned out that the combination of fleece with a extra heat reflective layer worked very well.
See below for my fleece-lamé vest.
Heat Reflective clothes work especially well for inactive people.
After using heat reflective clothing for a few years, it proves to do very well for me.
When I'm indoors and I sit still, then normal sweaters and jackets are sometimes not enough
to keep me warm, while a layer of heat reflecting material does keep me warm.
When I have more mechanical pressure on my neck, it is harder for me to stay warm.
I mainly used an
electric heating vest
to stay warm before, but clothing
with a heat reflective layer proved to work very well and is perhaps
also healthier because it does not add external heat to my body.
A healty and active person produces more heat. So for healthy
people is enough to put on an extra sweater.
It is therefore almost impossible for me to explain to healthy people how big
the effect of a heat-reflective layer is.
I started with non-breathable materials with a layer of aluminium:
The pictures show: A ground cloth, an emergency blanket, bubble wrap and carpet underlayment.
The emergency blanket is so thin that you can see through it.
Yet it works very well.
If I wrap the emergency blanket around me, then I notice after a quarter to half an hour
that I lose less heat.
The underlayment with a layer of aluminium works also well.
I haven't used the others that much, but I assume they work just as good.
Below is a vest.
In 2010 I tried to attach bubble wrap with a heat reflective coating to a vest.
But I couldn't do it, because it was not flexible enough.
It was my intention to buy a roll of flexible and breathable aluminized fabric.
I wanted to sew that in a vest, a jacket and a duvet.
A number of brands of reflective material are:
XITANIT™, Temptrol™, MIRoTEC©, Sympatex Reflexion©, Aluminet©.
Beside those, there is also lamé
Lamé is a shiny fabric, sometimes used for Christmas clothing.
The fabric is woven or knitted, and it consists mainly of a 'thread' of
a small strip of plastic foil with aluminium.
It is not intended to reflect radiant heat, but it turned out to have a reasonably good result.
This is the sample of Temtrol I received.
This material is very easy to cut and sew.
It is less flexible and less breathable than woven fabric.
If it is firmly rubbed with the aluminium side against another fabric, then the aluminium comes off.
All these materials consist of plastic with a layer of aluminium.
Most of them are polyester and some are nylon.
Because I want to use them as clothing, I wanted to know how flammable they are.
So I tried it out.
This is with 3 different kinds of lamé, lying on sand.
When using these as clothing on the outside, then walking along a burning candle is already a risk.
This is with Temptrol, lying on sand. It melts, but doesn't catch on fire very easy:
These are the pieces lamé, in free air:
This is Temptrol, in free air:
This is a piece of knitted lamé:
I bought a few different kinds of lamé, such as woven, knitted and stretch-lamé:
The material turned out to be difficult to handle, like cutting and sewing.
The plastic threads coated with aluminium easily break during sewing.
Below is my duvet cover with lamé:
For a proper effect, only the topside of the duvet cover has a layer lamé.
The radiant heat reflection appears to work well, and the material is well breathable.
I only lie on my back, and my top (belly side) was warmer than my back.
So I added another layer of lamé under my mattress.
After that I stayed nicely warm.
In the winter I used two electric heating blankets (one on top, and one underneath me).
But now just one electric blanket is sufficient, and sometimes I don't even have to
turn it on.
I made this duvet cover in 2010 and I am still using it in 2017.
To prevent that the aluminium disappears, I wash it only once or twice a year
in a washing machine at a low temperature of 30°C
and with a friendly laundry detergent.
A cotton top sheet is used to keep the duvet cover clean.
This is my first garment with lamé:
It was mainly to see if it could be sawn onto a garment, and to see how the lamé
would be if it was worn and washed in a washing machine.
Two years later, and after being in the washing machine six times,
the major part of the reflective layer (aluminium) had disappeared.
As shown in the picture below:
In some parts the lamé layer was double,
and in those parts was still sufficient reflective aluminium present.
It also appeared that a higher temperature and a more aggressive detergent in the washing machine
were extra disadvantageous for the reflective layer.
The fabric also began to tear.
Until about the year 2008, a heat reflective layer was sometimes used in
more expensive jackets.
But after 2008 I see this more and more.
Beside insulation for building and clothes there are also other
applications with heat reflection.
This jacket concists of foil with a layer aluminium:
Brand and Type: Surviva Jak
This jacket with heat reflective foil is a very small package when folded.
It fits well, it is even for me large enough.
A few stickers on the jacket are used to close it.
Using this jacket indoors is not very useful,
because of the crackling and creaking sound of the foil.
In 2013, I checked what was available at the moment.
My preference is for a fabric that is good reflective, smooth and breathable.
Below are two fabrics that I bought.
This is stretch lamé:
The fabric is very well stretchable in all directions,
and it is smooth and strong and the aluminium is firmly attached to the fabric.
It can thus be used on the outside of clothes.
Unfortunately, the fabric is almost not breathable.
The picture below is a plastic foil with a layer of aluminium combined with fleece.
Brand and type: Bosal Poly-Therm Fleece
The plastic foil with a layer of aluminium is attached to a cotton-like layer fleece.
Also on top is a very thin layer of fleece.
This prevents the crackling sound of the foil, and makes it easy to handle like cutting and sewing.
The foil is made air-permeable by perforating it with small holes.
This heat reflective foil combined with fleece is the most warm fabric of all heat-reflective fabrics I have.
Because the fleece is fluffy, it can not be used on the outside of clothes.
The foil is not woven, it is therefore not flexible enough to be used in a vest or jacket
The fleece jacket below from Columbia Sportwear is heat reflective.
For the first picture I put the jacket on snowy tiles.
Brand and type: Columbia Sportswear, Omni-Heat, Men's Heat 360 II Full Zip
The jacket consists of fleece and stretch fleece and has heat reflective dots on the inside.
The heat reflective dots are also in the sleeves.
For the maximum effect, it would be better if the heat reflective layer would be on the outside,
and would fully cover the surface.
The dots occupy unfortunately less than 50% of the surface.
Compared to my homemade garment with lamé, this fleece jack is slightly less warm.
My shoulders stay warmer with this jack because also the sleeves are heat-reflective,
so in the end the effect is about the same.
The heat-reflective dots do not come off.
Due to wear they get less in some places, for example at the end of the sleeves on the inside.
In 2017 there are a number of manufacturers who make a fabric similar to the Omni-Heat fleece by Columbia.
However, I was not able to order it.
In 2011 I started with a vest that was made from a layer of fleece and a layer of lamé.
It was 2017 when I finally succeeded in finishing the vest:
I attached the two layers together with wallpaper paste. That way I was able to cut the shapes and
sewing it together. After it was finished, I removed the wallpaper paste by letting it soak in water overnight,
and wash it in a washing machine.
The lamé layer is woven fabric and is well air permeable. Also the fleece is wel air permeable.
The sleeves are extra long and the vest fits well to avoid cooling by cold air that could get under the vest.
The vest turns out to work very well. The combination of fleece and lamé seems to be the perfect combination,
because they work in a different way. The fleece isolates by stationary air and the
lamé reflects the radiant heat back.
With other clothes with heat reflection, it takes about 15 minutes to half an hour before there is a obvious
noticeable effect. When I put on this vest in a cold environment, I notice it instantly.
In 2017 it appeared that a webshop in the Netherlands had a number of different heat-reflective fabrics:
stoffenshop.eu (search for the Dutch words 'zilver' and 'goud').
Lamé with fiberfill.
Bought at: stoffenshop.eu number RT1170.
This is nice fabric. It is flexible enough to use it for clothes.
There is an extra layer of fiberfill for isolation.
The aluminium lamé layer is woven very tight, therefor the fabric is not very breathable.
For a jack or a vest this could be a good fabric, but I wonder if it is enough air permeable for a duvet cover.
Bought at: stoffenshop.eu number RT1373.
The fabric is very elastic. The aluminium are tiny dots.
The aluminium covers less than 50% of the surface.
When the fabric is stretched out a lot, then those tiny dots look a little crumbled afterwards.
It is well air permeable.
Last change to this page: November 2017