Not Just Nostalgia

The Fabric Worn by British WWII Spitfire Pilots Is Revived

September 27, 2017 Sports and Outdoors By

Before three-layer jackets and Gore-Tex membranes existed, jackets were made “the old-fashioned way” — with cotton. And while some things are better left in the past (hammer pants), others are just as suited to the tasks of the day as they were 40 years ago. Ventile is one of those things — it’s a high-density fabric made from 100 percent extra-long-staple cotton. Most in the outdoors space would have you think that “cotton is rotten,” and though that’s still true much of the time, Ventile is both waterproof and breathable.

Ventile’s first application was in the immersion suits worn by British fighter pilots during WWII. Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Ventile jacket during the first-ever ascent of Mount Everest. The British Royal Air Force still uses it today. Now, the UK’s Jago Jackets is using Ventile in a jacket as suitable for arctic exploration as it is for jungle bushwhacking.

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Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

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