What Is Ultra Fabric and Why All The Hype?!
A new technical fabric has hit the outdoor gear market by storm known as Ultra. Waymark Gear Co. is starting to introduce this ultralight, ultra durable fabric to our pack line up, but being a new fabric offering, there can be misunderstandings of what it really is, and why it's being used for backpacks. Here is some information on what Ultra is, and why we're using it at Waymark Gear Co.
In 2021 Challenge Sailcloth introduced EPL Ultra fabrics that feature an incredible abrasion resistance to weight ratio. Unsure of how EPL Ultra would handle the rigors of thru hiking and backpacking when first introduced, EPL Ultra has proven to be a reliable fabric choice that's providing amazing durability and reducing pack weight substantially.
ECOPAK EPL Ultra is a woven fabric made from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers with a recycled RUV film backing for waterproofing. In simple terms EPL Ultra is made from an incredibly strong, highly abrasion resistant fiber that makes for an ideal backpack fabric.
EPL Ultra comes in various denier options, with Ultra 200 and 400 being the most common application for backpack construction. As a comparison to ECOPAK EPX200 which has an abrasion resistance of about 500 cycles, EPL Ultra 200 has an abrasion resistance of 3800 cycles.
The biggest benefits here are that EPL Ultra is highly durable and ultralight, which allows for significant weight savings in pack construction over other fabrics used in lightweight backpacks.
How Waymark Gear Co. is implementing EPL Ultra into our pack construction.
Starting with the EVLV · 35L Frameless pack, we have added EPL Ultra as a fabric option in addition to the ECOPAK EPX fabrics also currently in use. The design of the EVLV · 35L Ultra and the EVLV · 35L EPX is the same, but the difference being the fabrics used and color options. The Ultra version comes in all black only and the EPX version comes in Black EPX70 with Ranger Green EPX200 accents.
After proper field testing and ensuring that fabric performance is where we need it to be, other pack models will be considered to also be offered in EPL Ultra.
EPL Ultra sounds amazing... are there any cons to Ultra?
While there are a lot of amazing attributes to EPL Ultra, it's not perfect. EPL Ultra is expensive and in turn increases production costs, which reflects in retail price of a pack made from EPL Ultra.
EPL Ultra is also limited to color selection. While we expect to see additional colors available over time, the more common offering to see from Waymark Gear Co. in packs offered in EPL Ultra would be all black.
What are the differences between EPX fabrics and EPL Ultra? Why would I choose one or the other?
Using the EVLV 35L pack as an example, the first noticeable difference between the two fabric options is the weight. The EVLV 35L EPX has a total weight of just under 16oz while the EVLV 35L Ultra has a total weight of 14oz.
ECOPAK EPX fabrics are a multi layer, laminated fabric that's also 100% recycled. It's a high performance, strong and abrasion resistant fabric that comes in many color options and allows for a reduced cost in pack construction. While, as stated above, EPL Ultra is a woven fabric that relies on a laminated RUV film backing to provide a waterproof barrier. EPL Ultra is a hybrid fabric that has some recycled components but is not 100% recycled.
Both fabrics are incredibly durable, weather proof and light weight. If having the maximum weight savings and abrasion resistance are most important to you, then we would recommend choosing EPL Ultra, otherwise the performance of EPX fabrics will handle any situation you throw at it with a negligible weight increase over EPL Ultra.
What Waymark Gear Co. products can I get in EPL Ultra?
Where can I learn more about ECOPAK EPL Ultra and EPX fabrics?
Additional information can be found from Challenge Outdoor.