(One Minute Read)

Not someone who is in denial, though it can mean that as well! But reference to material in our hiking gear. I pick up a jacket and read that the fabric is 200 Denier. What does that even mean? It’s not a word in common use after all.

One way that fibres, especially synthetic ones, are measured is by the denier (D). Manufactured fibres except glass that is. The word denier has French roots and refers to a small coin of little value. What’s the connection to fibre mass? I have no idea. It’s probably a question only the French can answer.

What is one denier then? Like all metrics it’s all about having a single standard from which to start. One denier is the weight in grams of a strand of silk which is 9000m long. That’s correct. Lay out a single strand of silk for 9km and it will weigh one denier. Or one gram if you prefer. Can a silkworm even spin a thread that long? No, only about 1000m but that’s still pretty impressive for a caterpillar. String nine of those together and you have one denier.

Silk is extremely fine. A human hair is about 20D. 'No thanks' to the task of laying out 9000m of human hair. But having established the one denier standard we can define those which are finer still as microfibres. Microfibres will be about 0.9D while ultra-microfibre are 0.7D. At the other end of the spectrum ballistic fibres, used in bullet proof vests can be 1000-1680 denier. The original ballistic nylon developed by DuPont to protect airmen from shrapnel in WW2 was 1050 denier. Kevlar fabrics can be 400, 600 or 850D. Obviously the strength of these materials relies on more than just the thickness of a thread. But it’s a key variable.

Back to that 200D you saw on the jacket label. We see reference to Denier in tent fabrics or clothing fabrics. Even fly fishing threads distinguish between various denier. In our outdoors activities  the general rule is that the higher the denier the more durable the material.



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published