Reinforcing high-abrasion areas of firesuits has long been accomplished with traditional materials like leather, externally coated fabrics like ARA-SHIELD®, and extra layers of tough shell fabrics like Millenia XT™. However, the optimum balance of abrasion resistance, flexibility, low water absorption, durability, and ease of cleaning in an NFPA 1971 certified lightweight material has been elusive. That is, until now.
DRAGONHIDE® fabric is a newly formulated version of a material that has been in use for over fifteen years in an application that had similar requirements. Initial development research work was aimed at creating a fabric which would provide similar protective functions to those of leather (including abrasion and tear resistance), with greater freedom of movement (flexible and lightweight), high water resistance (and low absorption), and resistance to soiling (easy care). Can you guess the application? Motorcycle racing.
DRAGONHIDE® fabric weighs 10.0 oz/yd2 and is made from 100% meta-aramid, back-coated with a specially formulated polymer.
Suede leather remains the king of reinforcements with respect to providing high abrasion resistance. However, leather is relatively heavy, stiffens with age and use, and can in some instances be difficult to decontaminate. ARA-SHIELD® performs extremely well in abrasion resistance, water resistance, and cleaning but is relatively stiff and slippery when used for knee reinforcements, and tends to crack with age or when folded for cuff reinforcement. Outer shell materials are pliable and light, but not highly abrasion or water resistant.
DRAGONHIDE® fabric combines the flexibility of outer shell materials with outstanding abrasion resistance. Because DRAGONHIDE® is coated on one side, it resists water and other liquid absorption issues, but is easy to clean. When subjected to Taber Abrasion Tests using H-18 abrasion wheels and a constant load of 500 grams on each wheel, DRAGONHIDE® consistently exceeds 6,000 cycles with no sign of holes or fiber breakage.
DRAGONHIDE® is only available in the color black, is certified to NFPA 1971, 2013 Edition, and is available on all models of Globe or Cairns structural firefighting suits, as well as on selected RESCUEGEAR offerings.
ARA-SHIELD® (Grey, Black, Gold)
Polymer-coated DuPont™ KEVLAR® with matte finish for improved appearance and traction. This material is easy to clean, offers exceptional strength, is lightweight and double coated to prevent moisture absorption. It is a moderately priced alternative and easy to clean, but it is not as pliable as other reinforcements and, like any coated fabric, can crack along stress lines.
Outer Shell Material (All Shell Fabrics Available)
Self-reinforcements are soft and pliable, resulting in comfort and ease of movement, but in most cases they are not the most economical, water resistant or durable reinforcements. If selecting a self-reinforcement material, consider ADVANCE™ or Millenia XT™ (Millenia XT™ being the most durable). Each is treated with Super Shelltite™ durable water resistance finish.
Heavy Duty Leather (Grey, Black)
Globe leather is the most economical reinforcement option offering the highest durability available. It can be cleaned but stains easily since it is a porous material. Globe uses a heavy duty high quality leather not readily prone to dry-rot.