Fire Resistant (FR) Clothing Page 1 Page 2

As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.

Massif Mountain Gear FR Clothing

2/19/07 - Massif Mountain Gear Company offers a full line of fire resistant (FR) outdoor clothing and technical gear for at-risk professionals. Massif is a family-owned and operated company hailing from Ashland, Oregon (I've actually been to Ashland - took a side trip when I skied Mt Shasta a dozen years ago - very pretty country). A search-and-rescue professional, and before that having 15 years of experience making custom outerwear and climbing equipment, Massif's founder Randy Benham started to design and build clothing and equipment out of necessity for his Rescue team when he found that available products were unsatisfactory. As word spread, Randy founded Massif Mountain Gear Company to keep up with the demand for his custom made equipment and clothing. Massif now distributes its products to rescue professionals, fire teams, ski patrols, law enforcement, the military and government, and private companies.

Currently, all of Massif's product line is fire resistant - here are some of the highlights summarized from their website:

  • All Massif clothing features fabrics made with DuPont™ Nomex® brand fibers whose inherent flame-resistant properties do not wash or wear out.
  • All Massif Nomex® clothing is designed, developed, tested, and manufactured to be fire-resistant. All of their principal fabrics pass the stringent ASTM D 6413 Standard for flame-resistance. In addition, Nomex® clothing is constructed with fire-resistant thread, zippers, cord, webbing, velcro, and hardware. Massif is also certified to the ISO 9001 international standard by Underwriters Laboratories to assure the consistency and quality of all of their clothing.
  • Many Massif clothing items feature a special type of DuPont™ Nomex® called Nomex IIIA®. Nomex IIIA® is a blend of fire-resistant fibers that increases the durability and static dissipation characteristics of Nomex®. Inherently fire-resistant Kevlar® and carbon fibers are blended in small quantity with Nomex® fibers to create the ultimate fire-resistant fiber blend for personal protective clothing. The Nomex IIIA® blend consists of 93% Nomex®, 5% Kevlar®, and 2% carbon
  • Massif has spent many years developing their own proprietary fire-resistant outdoor fabrics that they claim are at the very least as good as — and often surpass — the performance of their conventional counterparts. This includes their Nomex® fleece clothing, Nomex® long underwear, Nomex® softshell, Nomex® hard shell, Nomex® stretch fleece, Nomex® stretch-woven, and Nomex® CoolKnit™.

All this sounded very interesting to me, as my familiarity with Nomex up till now had been limited to flight suits, gloves, and hoods. Typically, I've found Nomex garments to be a bit lacking when it came to comfort - mainly breathability and elasticity. I had actually been to Massif's website a while ago, and was intrigued by their FR fleece and soft shell fabrics as I hadn't see anyone else offer that. But it was only within the past year or so that I've taken more interest in FR clothing, due to all the attention that the military has been giving it.

Fabric development and testing - I spoke to Chris Wasgatt at Massif on the phone, and also over a series of emails where he answered questions that I had about their products and provided me with information which I've paraphrased here.
When Massif started, the fabrics they wanted didn't exist or have the qualities they desired, so they had to develop their own. This process took years of R&D, and they are now up to about 10 proprietary fabrics. They have basically been calling each fabric by the name of the garment it is used in. For example, they named the fabric used in their CoolKnit t-shirt, CoolKnit fabric. Same thing for HotJohns, Flamestretch, Elements, etc.

Massif started out back in 2000 making outdoor clothing from Nomex fleece, which had just recently been invented. After about a year or so of doing that, they wanted to branch out into making a whole line of flame resistant outdoor clothing including soft shells, long-underwear, hot-weather garments, etc. They soon realized however that the fabrics just didn’t exist. So at that point, they decided that they needed to build the fabrics themselves. They put in place exclusive relationships with a few different textile mills, purchased specialized equipment, got some loans, and off they went. Seven years later (now), they're a fabric technology company. They faced many challenges along the way but were fortunate to find the right mill partners to work with, and government procurement officers who cared more about the guys in the field than they did about keeping the status quo.

Products - Massif's product range can literally cover you from head (caps) to toe (socks), and includes fleeces, soft shells, waterproof/breathables, flight suits - all fire resistant. They've also collaborated with other manufacturers like Outdoor Research (OR Gear), who utillize Massif's proprietary fabrics in some of their government products. I reviewed their FR headgear and gloves elsewhere on this site.

Note that Massif has updated their product line in 2010 and may not look exactly like the ones pictured here from 2007.

Fire and Ice™ Low-Bulk Nomex® Layering System

For those interested in a good 'package' to start with, that will span a wide range of temperatures and conditions, Massif has their Fire and Ice™ Low-Bulk Nomex® Layering System. The Fire and Ice system was specifically designed for a wide range of U.S. military applications, to provide protection against flame and arc hazards while keeping the user comfortable and dry under a variety of extreme weather conditions. The components that make up the Fire and Ice layering system are:

  • Base layer - HotJohns™ long underwear
  • Mid layer - Flamestretch™ pullover and pants
  • Outer layer - Elements jacket, pants and bib
  • Hot weather - Cool knit T-shirt

A note about my reviews - Obviously, I don't verify or test the fire-resistant properties of FR garments. The purpose of my reviews is to see how they perform and compare to other non-FR clothing out there in comfort, wearability and utility; and if there's anything that might make them less comfortable or less likely for someone to wear. The best fire protective garment is of no use if it's too uncomfortable to wear and isn't worn. Ideally, the FR properties should be transparent to the user, until they're needed.

Comfort range - It's a bit difficult to estimate comfort ranges of clothing, since it's so dependant on local conditions like temp, humidity, wind chill, and the fact that mostly everyone feels different. Static vs exertion (going hard) can lower the temperature that the garment is comfortable in by 20-30° once you start sweating. The rule of thumb is if you're comfortable when you start out, you'll end up needing to remove layers once you start going. Best to start out a bit chilly, or even cold if you're going to go hard and work up a sweat.

HotJohns™ long underwear - Massif developed the HotJohns fabric using Nomex fibers to feel and perform like a high-performance wicking base layer while still providing flame protection. The HotJohns fabric looks and feels like polypro, and is very soft and stretchy (it's a 4-way stretch fabric). Shown here is the tan version - it's also available in black. It has some thickness to it - it's not a thin silkweight fabric. I was very impressed with the quality of construction - small details around the collar and shoulder show that it's built to last. I found the medium crew top and pants to fit me perfectly - it's meant to be form fitting, but not a skin-tight compression fit. Both the pants and shirt have double-layer cuffs, which retain their elasticity and won't stretch out. The shirt is also available in a zip-top version. The pants have a fly. Fabric seams are three-thread overlock and hems are cover stitches.

The first thing that struck me when I put them on was that they were extremely comfortable and unrestrictive - I can honestly say that this is some of the softest-feeling fabric I've worn - and that includes non-fire resistant performance clothing. I wore both garments around the house, and the top outside while running and walking. I'd estimate the static comfort range is from about 65°-75° when worn alone (for me). After a few days wear, I didn't notice any odour, nor did my wife (the official pass/fail test).

I also wore both the top and bottom as base layers on a hike up in the mountains. Starting temp was in the mid 40°s and I was wearing the Arc'teryx Alpha pants over the HotJohns bottom, and the crew neck shirt on top. I got warm pretty quickly once I started climbing - and the full length vents on the Alpha pants came in handy. The temperature got colder higher up, in the low 30°s, but the HotJohns still kept me warm as long as I was moving. In fact, I got pretty hot. I also wore the HotJohns Omaha neck gaiter (designed by OR Gear) on my head, which was a good balance between wicking away the sweat on my brow and keeping my ears warm (which were always cold). Even though I had dressed a bit too warm for the lower altitude, the HotJohns bottoms wicked the sweat away and kept me feeling comfortable and dry (never clammy), even though I could feel moisture on the inside of the Alpha pants with my hand. In retrospect, if I were exterting, I'd want to use the HotJohns bottoms in temps below 40° when worn under a shell. Thumbs up for the HotJohns long underwear and Omaha neck gaiter.

HotJohns long underwear

HotJohns long sleeved shirt

HotJohns pants

FlameStretch™ Pullover and pants - Massif FlameStretch™ is a 4-way stretch Nomex fleece fabric that stretches almost double (190%) to form fit to the body without compressing or restricting. Externally, it has the same, abrasion-resistant outer surface as the HotJohns fabric, but it's thicker as it has soft fleece on the inner surface. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the FlameStretch fabric is the most comfortable and softest-feeling fleece-lined fabric, fire-resistant or not, that I've felt next-to-skin. It literally makes a regular sweatshirt feel scratchy in comparison. All seams are flat for comfort using cover stitches and something that looks like a four-thread ultra-stretch mock safety stitch. The FlameStretch garments can be worn by themselves 'next-to-skin', or layered with the HotJohns underwear for extra insulation. They're cut very slightly looser than the HotJohns underwear for layering, but low-bulk enough to be worn as mid layers under a shell or outer garment.

The FlameStretch Pullover has a 12" metal zipper collar and is available in tan or black. The zipper has a 'wind flap' behind it, to keep the zipper away from the skin. The attention to detail is apparent - the edges of the fabric are all folded over to the outside on the cuffs, bottom and collar so that nothing but the fleece touches the skin - even the zipper flap is carefully constructed and sewn over. The top of the collar has a neck protector for comfort.

The FlameStretch Pants are constructed the same way as the pullover - flat seams and rolled-out cuffs. They have a fly front. The heavy-duty elastic in the waist is completely covered by FlameStretch material - there's no exposed elastic.

Worn alone, static comfort level is about 5° lower than the HotJohns garments. I brought along the Pullover on my hike, and it would have been too warm while climbing with ambient temp in the low 30°s, but when I stopped to rest and started cooling off, it kept me comfy when worn over the HotJohns top. Another thing that impressed me was how the FlameStretch fabric can keep me feeling dry, even when the fabric is wet. I soaked one of the sleeves with water, and it wasn't long before the water was drawn away from the skin into the bulk of the fabric. The fleece surface kept the soaked outer layer from touching my skin, while my body heat dried it quite quickly. I recommend the FlameStretch garments without reservation if FR properties are needed, based on comfort and performance alone.

Flamestretch pullover and pants

Pullover collar open, fleece inner surface

Zipper closed

Flamestretch pants

Worn over HotJohns top while relaxing

2/25/07 - Elements™ Softshell Jacket and pants - The term 'softshell' is used rather loosely to describe garments that are 'highly water and wind resistant, and breathable'. What manufacturers call softshells range from thin, single-layer windshirts, to the more common lightly insulated nylon shell jackets with low loft fleece-linings. Massif Elements™ is a softshell fabric that isn't immediately recognizable as the typical nylon DWR softshell fabric. It's actually 'soft', looking more like sweatshirt material than water-resistant fabric. So, people are always surprised when I tell them that it's a windproof/waterproof fabric. Externally, it looks exactly like the other Massif fabrics shown above, only with a slightly finer weave. The Elements fabric a tri-laminate, with an outer face material and interior fleece face sandwiching a fire resistant waterproof/breathable membrane. The face and fleece back are fire resistant DuPont Nomex/Kevlar/Carbon/Acrylic and Lycra which also provide anti-static performance. Elements is a four-way stretch, with more stretch in the width. As a result, it's very comfortable and stretches with the body's movements. By the way, even though the colour is listed as 'Coyote Tan' on the Massif website, it's exactly the same tan as the other garments. Elements is also available in black.

Since Elements doesn't have a DWR coating, water doesn't bead up on it and roll off. The outer layer will get wet and soak it up. But that's where the water will stay - it won't make it past the waterproof membrane. I tested it out on both the jacket, and the OR Gear Vigil gloves, which are also made out of Elements fabric. The only way water will make it through is by the seams, which are not sealed. However, I had to completely saturate the outside fabric around the seam before it'd slowly migrate in, and it took quite a while and was minimal. When I wore the jacket out in the rain, it kept me completely dry (except for my head, on which I wore a rain hat). Another advantage to the Elements fabric is that it's quieter than other softshells - there's much less of a 'nylon swich'. As far as wind resistance, it's very good. I did my normal wind resistance test I use for garments - I took a few rides on my motorcycle with it. I can 'simulate' wind speeds well over the legal limit, and either go for a ride at night, or brave the chilly early morning commute to work. I could feel no hint of wind passing through the fabric and worn over an insulative layer, the Elements jacket kept me very comfortable despite the chilly air and speed.

I'd consider the fleece backing to be of 'medium' loft. Fabric weight is similar to a heavy sweatshirt. The fleece is very soft and comfortable, like the other Massif garments I've tried out. Fire-resistant materials are used throught the Elements garments' construction, including metal zippers, thread and velcro. All main seams joining two sections of fabric are all double-stiched for strength, and finished with an overlock stitch.

The Elements Softshell Jacket shown below is the "Tactical" model, which was developed at the request of the Special Ops community. The standard model has two hand warmer pockets and two chest pockets. The Tactical model has hand warmer pockets, no chest pockets and added sleeve pockets for use with armour. The handwarmer pockets have zipper closures protected by zipper flaps. There is no hood, as most of their customers who buy this use a helmet with this jacket. Massif prefers the use of a separate piece of headgear like a hat, as hoods tend to limit peripheral vision as they don't move well with your head. The jacket has a medium-length cut which is a bit lower in the back then the front. The bottom of the jacket has a non-elastic drawstring with metal cord-locks, for fire-resistance.

The left shoulder pocket is 'flight-suit' style, with a vertical zipper opening and two pen slots on the outside. It measures about 6" tall and 5" wide. The bottom has a 'box' construction, so it can hold more than a simple flat pocket. The pocket material is a non-stretch fabric. The right shoulder pocket is about 7" tall and 6" wide, and is slanted for easy access. The pocket has bellows at the bottom and rear, and is closed by a flap with velcro. It's also constructed out of non-stretch fabric.

Elements jacket and pants

Hand warmer pockets

Sleeve pocket

Collar details

Right sleeve and hand warmer pockets

Wrist cuff and waist drawstring

The Elements Softshell Pants are constructed out of the same material as the jacket. Like the jacket, the pants are solidly put together. I like the fact that they're not too baggy, and don't have much excess material. They fit like a pair of athletic sweat pants. The waist band is elastic, completely enclosed in the Elements fabric. There's also a 3/4" Nomex web belt inside the waistband. One end has a black metal ladder buckle, and is fixed - the other goes around the waist. The loose end is left long enough so that when donning and doffing the pants, it's loosened, but not removed from the ladder. Under the web belt is a velcro tab closure. The pants have a metal zipper fly.

There are two spacious side-entry hand-warmer pockets and one rear pocket on the right side, all with flap-protected zipper closures, on the standard version of the pants. On the Tactical version shown here, on the outside of each shin/calf is a 7" tall x 6" wide bellow pocket with velcro flap closure. Instead of thigh pockets, the calf pockets were at the request of end-users for easier access when strapped into the seat of an aircraft or vehicle. On the inside of the calves are 9" boot zippers.

Elements pants

Calf pocket and boot zipper

Waist arrangement

Waist band details

Side and rear pockets

Bottom cuff details

The Elements garments are sized without much excess material. I was originally concerned that the jacket forearms might be a bit snug when layering as they're relatively form fitting, but it wasn't an issue, even with both HotJohns and FlameStretch pullovers under it. The stretch in the Elements material accomodates multiple layers without feeling restrictive. I think what impressed me the most is that these are the most 'breathable' soft shell garments I've worn so far, fire-resistant or otherwise. I can feel literally no more 'stuffiness' than a non-softshell garment of the same weight, like a heavy sweatshirt, with the warmth provided being comparable - that's the closest comparison I can think of. If you're a user looking for fire-resistant outer garments to provide warmth and protection from adverse weather, while feeling as comfortable as 'conventional' clothing, the Massif Elements line will fit that role nicely.

8/14/09 - Cool Knit T-shirt - The Massif Cool Knit T-shirt is the hot weather component of their Fire and Ice™ Low-Bulk Nomex® Layering System. It's available in short and long sleeve versions.

Material - Cool Knit is one of Massif's proprietary Nomex® fabrics (90% Nomex®, 10% other fibers), and was the first Nomex® fabric designed to keep the wearer cool and comfortable in hot environments. Cool Knit is an extremely light weight and soft wicking fabric. It is the same tan colour as the HotJohns fabric featured above, which isn't really a solid tan colour when the fabric is examined up close, but is tan with a mixture of dark grey woven in. Like the HotJohns fabric, the Cool Knit fabric is stretchy and soft, especially after the first couple of washings. I recommend throwing it in the wash before wearing it. Cool Knit passes the ASTM D 6413 standard for flame resistance and is also available in black.

The Cool Knit T-shirts are longer in the rear than in the front so they stay tucked in during bending, squatting, moving etc. Flat seams are used for comfort.

Cool-knit fabric close up

Cool Knit short sleeve


Cool Knit long sleeve


Observations/Notes - As with the other Massif fabrics, the Cool Knit t-shirt doesn't feel hot or stuffy like most other Nomex® garments. I've also found Massif fabrics to pill less. The Cool Knit shirt feels like a non-FR wicking t-shirt. It's lighter weight than a regular cotton t-shirt, so it's more of a 'silk weight' garment.

It's the middle of summer right now, so it was a good time to try out the Cool Knit fabric. I wore it while jogging, and also as normal, everyday wear, which included workouts at the gym. It performs as a performance wicking t-shirt should - it dries quickly since it's light weight, and I felt no itching, even when sweat soaked. I can honestly say that it's the most comfortable FR shirt I've worn, as it has more stretch than others.

Breeze Boxer Brief - The silk weight Massif Breeze boxer brief has a body-hugging, athletic fit that is both comfortable and supportive. Extensively field tested, it is designed not to ride up, bunch up, or chafe, whether you're moving or static.

Material - The Breeze boxer brief material is different from the Cool Knit fabric. It's not very apparent when looking at the photo on the Massif website, but the fabric is very stretchy (4-way stretch), highly breathable, ultra light (even lighter than silk weight) moisture-wicking knit. If you look closely, there is a regular pattern woven into the fabric which looks like some kind of texture, but it's actually 'vents' where the pattern has less threads in it. They're almost like perforations, but not actually holes in the fabric. Another surprise: it's not Nomex®. There's no Nomex® listed; instead, it's 59% cotton, 26% rayon, 8% spandex and 7% polyester. The different fibers are treated for flame resistance, but instead of a coating, the flame resistance is created at the fiber level where it won't wash out. The patent-pending technology is known as HaloTech FR, and is the same technology used in the Breeze fabric used for the torso of the Army Combat Shirt, also made by Massif. The Breeze boxers pass ASTM D 6413/F2302-03 standard for flame resistance.

The Breeze Boxer Briefs extend to mid-thigh on me, and as mentioned before, are a body-hugging form fit - almost like a second skin and the reason I didn't take any photos of me wearing them. All seams are flat, and there aren't any side or center seams. The fly is functional.

Breeze Boxer brief


Close up of fabric

Observations/Notes - The Breeze Boxer briefs felt tight the first time I put them on, but after a short while wearing them, I barely noticed it. They're snug around the thighs and butt, but are cut to provide room for the precious package in front. They are supportive and will keep the package in the desired location, unlike loose boxer shorts, and whether you prefer the support or not is personal preference. I prefer support vs. no support.

There are no side seams, but I can feel the vertical seams on the rear panel on my butt, and would probably have preferred side seams on the outside of the legs, as they really wouldn't be in the way. Where they're placed right now, I can feel them when I sit down sometimes. Even so, wearing them under pants and shorts, for everyday wear and also for exercise, I'd say that Breeze Boxer briefs are still the most comfortable of any boxer brief I've tried, FR or otherwise, including the PCU Level I stuff. I think the Breeze material is what makes the most difference. It's very airy and allows more breathability and ventilation than more tightly knit fabrics. Sweat is wicked away from the skin. The fit (snug in the thighs and roomier for the package) also contributes to the comfort, as it prevents chafing and bunching, and rubbing when sweaty.



driFIRE™ Performance Wear

11/26/06 - This is the recently introduced line of driFIRE Performance wear. Back in April, the Marines banned the use of polyester or nylon based athletic clothing while conducting operations 'outside the wire' in Iraq (source). This was due to the danger of such clothing melting and fusing to the skin when exposed to extreme heat and flames, a concern for users who might be exposed to flash fires, flames or IEDs etc. Synthetic wicking base layers have become popular in the Armed Forces as they provide comfort by transporting perspiration away from the skin to outer layers, keeping the user drier and more comfortable under most conditions. I made the switch a while back from cotton to synthetics, as I found the synthetics to be superior in practically all respects except flame retardance (which isn't a concern for me personally as I don't get exposed to that danger).

So, enter the new breed of performance base layers and garments which aim to provide the comfort of synthetic wicking layers and protection of fire resistance. driFIRE uses dri-release® performance fabric technology produced by Optimer with Freshguard® odor control. dri-release® is moisture-wicking technology that combines wicking with fast-drying properties. But the main difference is in the fire-resistant property of dri-FIRE. While polyester/nylon-based garments will melt or drip when exposed to flame (I've tried burning some performance clothing and it's amazing how quickly it can melt), driFIRE will not. It's not a flame-resistant treatment - the properties are inherent in the fabric and will not deteriorate over time. driFIRE's advertised features are:

  • driFIRE™ has no-melt or drip characteristics, which means it will not melt into your skin in high heat
  • Provides a safe, effective performance undergarment solution for people that have the potential to be exposed to fires or flash fires
  • driFIRE™ meets or exceeds the FR requirements of NFPA 1975:
    - No Melt, No Drip
    -No After flame
    -After glow less than 1 second
    -Charlength less than 6”
    -Thermal Protective Property value greater than 6

Not being very knowledgeable about FR (Fire Resistant) clothing requirements, the numbers don't really mean much to me. I did find out that the underlying purpose of NFPA 1975 is to provide minimum requirements to ensure that the clothing that meets those requirements do not contribute to burn injury severity. That means that the garments that are constructed of the materials (fabric, thread etc) that comply with NFPA 1975 will assure that burn injuries are not made worse by the melting of the materials/fibers. This standard does NOT not specify requirements for clothing that is intended to provide primary protection from given hazard exposures. It is important for the user to distinguish between fire-resistant clothing and fire-protective clothing. While driFIRE garments might provide limited protection against fire (it's designed not to contribute to the problem should you get burned) and give you a few extra critical seconds to escape a hazardous situation, they should not be treated as fire-protective wear that is designed specifically for a flame environment.

That being said, I've been wearing and using the driFIRE garments below as much as possible for the past few weeks to get a feel for their comfort (since I'm not going to put their FR qualities to the test), and compare them to non-FR performance 'wicking' garments. The driFIRE garments are not meant to have a skin-tight compression fit, but fit more like cotton clothing. The driFIRE garments have a cotton 'hand' to them - they're very soft and comfortable after the first wash, and do not have a 'slick' feel to them. However, they do not have the all-way stretch properties like some other wicking garments that have spandex, and that needs to be kept in mind when sizing them. What this means is that allowance for range of motion needs to be considered, as the driFIRE garments only have horizontal stretch, and none vertically.

First up is the Short Sleeved Silk Weight T, shown below in Desert Sand. My only gripe is that the sleeves are a bit short; I'd prefer them to be a couple of inches longer. I've been running in this shirt, it worked just as well as most other wicking Ts for wicking away perspiration. I'd rate it between a cotton t-shirt and the stretchy wicking garments for comfort alone. Since it doesn't have the stretch-fabric properties, it will tend feel slightly more restrictive, like any tight cotton t-shirt. This is by no means uncomfortable - it's just a relative comparison.

Short sleeve, silk weight

Shown below are the Long Sleeve Shirt and Pants, Silk Weight, in Marine OD. While the long sleeved shirt can be worn as a long-sleeved T-shirt as a stand-alone garment, the Pants are most definitely undergarments. You'll thank me for not providing pictures of me wearing them. I've worn both as my pajamas and around the house every day for the past two weeks, washing after a week's wear. Thankfully (for my wife), they had no discernable odor even after a week straight. The issue with the fabric only having horizontal stretch is more noticeable in the Pant. Since the medium pants fit me snugly, like tights, they'll get tight in front of the knees and at the butt when I bend my knees or squat. The back of the waist band will get pulled down when squatting - for a potential mini-plumber's crack, though. I've suggested to Safety Systems/driFIRE to provide a bit more room/material in the cut of the pants in the butt and knees to compensate for the lack of stretch for unrestricted range of motion. Other than that issue, I found both garments very comfortable - more so than cotton.

Long sleeve, silk weight

Pants, silk weight undergarment

Other than the range of motion issue I had with the pants, I found that the driFIRE garments to live up to their claims of comfort and wicking properties. If fire resistance undergarments are a requirement for you, I'd definitely recommend driFIRE as an option. driFIRE garments are available in Desert Sand, Marine OD, Foliage Green and Navy Blue.

Note that these garments have been replaced by the Gen2 ones below.

driFIRE™ Gen 2 Performance Wear

7/24/07 - driFIRE has released their Gen 2 Performance wear and have made some changes that are an improvement on the Gen I garments, in my opinion. I received some of the Gen 2 silk weight items - the T-shirt, Long sleeved T, and boxers in Desert Sand, and a long sleeved T and balaclava in Foliage Green. The Gen 2, 5 oz driFIRE fabric is the same weight as the Gen 1 fabric but the method of production has been changed to reduce 'loose fiber ends' which gives it a 'tougher' feel. Pill resistance has also been increased. It doesn't feel like a synthetic fabric - it actually feels a lot like some raw silk garments I have, or unbleached cotton. It's not as smooth as the Gen 1 fabric, but no less comfortable - it's got a nice, 'natural' feel to it. Elasticity is about the same or a bit less than cotton garments - it's not ultra stretchy like some other synthetics. Shrinkage is only 2%. Previously, I had found that the cut of the Gen 1 garments weren't designed with limited stretch in mind, but that has been corrected on the Gen 2 items.

The Gen 2 garments were designed with a 'RTF' - Relaxed Technical Fit; which finds the middle ground between a loose fit (which does not maximize the wicking properties of fabric) and a tight 'compression' fit that wicks well but are very tight. The RTFdesign provides a next-to-skin garment that contours to the body without being too tight, to take advantage of the wicking properties of the fabric but allowing comfort and freedom of movement. The silk weight fabric is comprised of 85% modacrylic and 15% viscose.

Short sleeve, silk weight

Boxers, silk weight undergarment

Long pants, silk weight undergarment

Close up of long pants

The Gen 2 silk-weight short sleeved T-shirt has longer sleeves than the Gen 1, which was my main gripe with the Gen 1. The seam on top of the shoulder has been moved forward, so that there is no seam directly on top of the shouler where it may cause discomfort when worn under other layers, armour or a pack. The collar is now of the same fabric as the rest of the shirt. On the Gen 1, it was a rib collar that tended to lose its shape. The new one retains its shape better, but is still a bit looser than one with elastic added. The silk-weight boxers are comfortable and I didn't have any issues with the fit.

The Gen 2 Long Pants have solved the too-restrictive fit issue I had with the Gen 1 Long Pants. The Gen 2s no longer tighten up around the knees and butt when squatting or kneeling. The fit isn't loose nor snug - it's cut just right to allow unrestricted range of motion. No more plumber's crack when bending over, and the waistband stays put. The top portion of the Long Pants are identical to the Boxers with a fly opening.

The Gen 2 Long sleeved shirt has the same features as the short-sleeved T - new collar and no shoulder seams. Compared to the Gen 1, it has an improved fit on me. The Gen 1 was a bit tight, especially around the arms. Now, I don't have big arms, so if it was tight on me, it'd be really tight on bigger fellows. The Gen 2 has the RTF, and it is 'just right'. Not too loose, but form fitting, as you can see from the photos. The sleeves are also a bit longer. The photo on the right below compares the Marine OD green to the Foliage Green.

Long sleeve, silk weight, Desert Tan

Long sleeve, silk weight, Foliage Green

Marine OD and Foliage Green

The silk weight driFIRE Balaclava (which is still under development) shown below utilizes fabric that has 6% lycra added for elasticity. Since lycra is not inherently fire-resistant, it has been encased in yarn and kept away from the skin during the manufacturing process. The design of the balaclava and the way the front piece attaches to the back enables it to be worn with the eye slit narrowed, or wide open below the chin as a 'headover' without stretching it out like a normal balaclava would. It can even be worn as a neck warmer. Overall fit is excellent.

Foliage Green Balaclava


Neck warmer

I wore the Desert Sand long sleeved shirt at the range. On that particular summer day, it was hot, and the long sleeved shirt provided sun and limited elbow protection while keeping me dry. I was surprised that I didn't feel any hotter wearing the long sleeved shirt instead of a short sleeved one. At another range session, on a hotter more humid day, I wore the short-sleeved T, and was pleased with how it felt. It was very comfortable, didn't feel 'synthetic' nor smell after a hot, sweaty day. I've also worn the t-shirt on jogs, with no issues. The fit is unrestrictive during such activities. With the Gen 2 items, driFIRE proved (to me) that they DO listen very carefully to feedback (not only mine, of course), and continually work to improve their line of products. Kudos to them.

Long sleeved silk weight at the range

Short sleeved Tee at the range




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