The Importance of Workwear Breathability


When working in cold conditions, it’s vital that cold storage workers etc. are warm and comfortable. The breathability of fabrics used plays a huge part in how comfortable workers are; with no distraction or discomfort from overheating, the better the workers will perform.

The key to comfortable and warm workwear is to combine the perfect amount of warmth/insulation, softness, and breathability. All materials hold these factors in one way or another, however finding the correct materials and clothing items that balance all three efficiently is key.

What is Breathability?

Breathability is measured usually by the Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate (MVTR), which, simply put, is how quickly or slowly moisture passes through fabric (or another substance). The MTVR is commonly determined by g/m2/day, i.e. the mass of moisture that passes through a square metre of fabric in 24 hours, as explained on the Clo Insulation website.

Img: Clo Insulation

The general rules of breathability by measurement are as follows:

  • 8000g +: good level of breathability for general use
  • 20000g +: good level of breathability for more active use
  • 30000g +: ‘best’ level of breathability for highly aerobic use



When comparing the type of insulation, the synthetic type is better for breathability, as opposed to down. Plus you’ve got the added benefit of not having harmed any animals during the manufacturing process. Synthetics also win on the waterproof front, maintaining its warming qualities when wet, drying quickly also.

The Chiller Jacker X12J from FlexiTog insulates with synthetics; specifically their IFX Thermo Reactive Wadding,’ keeping you at the optimum temperature’.


Humidity is an important factor in how fabrics breathe too. Note that moisture can pass through breathable fabrics both ways, adapting to heat and humidity of the surroundings. For example, if the inside of the jacket has a higher humidity percentage than the outside, the water vapour will escape to create a comfortable temperature.

Base Layers

What you don’t want is clothing that traps the moisture (your perspiration), as this will become uncomfortable and make you cold.  This includes your base layers to your outerwear, so ensure your next-to-skin thermal layers are of breathable material (e.g. synthetics such as polyester or merino wool) for full effect and comfort.

So, generally, for comfort and functionality in your workwear, choosing breathable fabrics for your base layers and outerwear is highly important. A warm, breathable and non-restrictive coat is an investment which will help you perform your best at work.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.

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Last modified: 16th April 2018