Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team
By Kenny Stocker
01, Apr, 2009
Designed with the Great British weather in mind these are the jeans we have all been waiting for, a comfortable, stylish and practical option for your outdoor activities.
Jeanius jeans are not 100% waterproof like the over trousers you carry around in your rucksack. Think of them more like soft shell trousers.. they are very water resistant, windproof and breathable. Jeanius jeans are ideal for activities where comfort, breathability and style are important, such as a days cragging, hiking or just general hanging out. Perhaps the weather man has said that there is a chance of getting caught in a shower but it is sunny when you leave your house and carrying your over trousers seems over kill. You might be uncomfortable for a short period, however you know that you will never be far from a cafe and the consequences of getting damp will not put you at risk of exposure. What they are not is an alternative to the fully taped hard shell over-trousers.
The Epic technology
EPIC.. it's the zany technology which makes Jeanius jeans work. EPIC denim fabric is water resistant, windproof, breathable and washable. The protection is inside the fabric, encapsulating the actual fibers for weatherproof performance. No laminates and no coatings.
While other performance fabrics rely on laminates, coatings or Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatments to provide protection, the EPIC encapsulation process places the protection inside the fabric wrapping an ultra thin polymer around the individual woven denim fibers. This encapsulation provides weather protection without sacrificing breathability, comfort or packability.
What Happens When The Magic Fades?
When our Jeanius pants come rolling off the production line the newly applied silicon polymer creates a surface tension thus providing a high level of water repellency. This is the magic bit which makes the water droplets look like mercury, and you can wow your friends as they simply flow off the jeans. Unfortunately as the fabric relaxes over the first few washes this effect will diminish and won't return. The Epic treatment inside the fabric is still there and should be uncompromised. Epic claim water should neither penetrate into the fabric nor pass through it but just wet out the surface fibres. This might be the case in a spray booth in a shiney lab, however in our experience continuous rain will wet out the denim and water will pass through. BUT and it's a big BUT, the jeans will remain windproof thus providing protection against the cooling effect of evaporation and the fabric will not absorb water quickly like standard demin allowing them to dry faster when the rain does stop.
What is the Epic Treatment?
The long and the short of it is it's silicon. It is applied to the rear of the fabric and forced deep into the fibres until it appears just below the outer surface. Being just below the surface ensures the fabric keeps it feel and handle. It should be good for a minimum of 80 washes before it starts to degrade, we have pairs of the first prototype jeans going strong after 3 years. The Epic treatment is very different to standard DWR treatments that use silicon within a wash to coat the surface of the fabric with Telfon or Nanotex. DWR treatments are effectively an industrial process of applying liquids such as Nikwax or Grangers. Immediately after washing these will give the same "magic" effect as a pair of Jeanius pants but will start to wear and wash off immediately and will be completely ineffective in only a few washes. Many household fabric conditioners also use silicon to give your towels a soft cushy feeling, ironically this reduces their effectiveness at absorbing water and drying you. All of these wash in treatments will eventually contaminate the EPIC treatment so we do not recommend you use them on your jeans.
- You can make pretty much any fabric waterproof but you’ll effect other aspect of its performance to achieve this. The process used by Epic leaves the fabric as close to its original feel as anything we have seen.
- The cool effect you see when water droplets float around without being absorbed into the fabric surface.
- The process by which the denim fibres are impregnated in the EPIC technology.
- Diamond crotch
- Pre shaped crotch section to improve flexibility.
- Articulated knee
- Pre shaped knees makes highsteps easier.
One reason for their lack of repellency maybe how they have been washed. In some recent development talks with Epic we found out that washing softeners (which are quite often integral to many washing powders 2 in 1 etc) act as a contaminant to the silicon. These contaminants break the surface tension of the water and hence the water will not bead. You may need to wash the jeans in basic washing powder or liquid to remove all traces of the softener and then tumble dry them to reinvigorate the Epic treatment.
Epic Treatment Contamination
The Epic treatment works on waters hatred of silicon. No matter which dating agency they go through they just can't stand each other. However as with many relationships a nasty piece of dirt can really mix things up. The dirt (it could be sweat, mud, tears, grease, fabric softener or a simply a build up of your washing detergent) acts as a channel for the water to avoid the silicon and head straight into the fabric. The cleaner the Jeanius pants the better they'll work.
The Epic process does not use solvents or other substances, which are hazardous to the environment or to workplace health and safety. Only 100% solid materials are used which creates no hazardous wastes.