New compression shirts and briefs help reduce chafing, rash under police uniforms
91 Degrees F derives its name from the skin surface temperature set point — the skin surface will read this temperature when the core temperature is in balance on a resting person
I recently tested duty compression shirts and briefs from 91 Degrees F — a product line specifically designed for law enforcement professionals by law-enforcement professionals.
What we found in these tests was superior sweat management, reduced chafing, and a uniform shirt that maintained its crisp appearance throughout the test.
91 Degrees F derives its name from the skin surface temperature set point — the skin surface will read this temperature when the core temperature is in balance on a resting person. There is an inverse relationship between core and skin temperature. That is, when the body is hot, it tries to radiate heat. When it is cold it tries to retain it.
Strategically Placed Seams
91 Degrees F founder and CEO Jill Cervenka learned this the hard way on patrol in Minnesota. If one gets sweaty at the start of the shift, the rest of the shift is miserable.
91 Degrees F garments are made from soft polyester fabric. They are sewn with flat seams, which are placed more strategically than traditional underclothing. For example, there is no underarm seam on the inside of the arm in the T-shirt. Even my best running shirts are sewn in a two-piece fashion, with the chafing seam bisecting the underarm.
Under a uniform, the shirt doesn’t bunch up under the armpit or around the vest tails. The bottom of the shirt is a little longer than conventional t-shirts. They stay tucked in better.
The collar is springy. This is really an important feature in a uniform shirt. A stretched out collar can change the entire look of the uniform. For this test, I used a device to hold the collar open for a few hours a day. While I was doing static tests, my wear tester put it on duty for several weeks. At the end of the test, neither of us had a stretched out collar.
The undershorts look and feel like conventional boxers, complete with a generous elastic waistband. The leg bottoms are cuffed with enough gentle elastic to keep them on the leg without bunching up. The panels are even arranged so the officer doesn’t sit on seams all day. The shorts do not have a fly, which is really a good idea in a compression short. This prevents the material from pulling open because of the athletic fit.
Made with OUTLAST Fabric
The active ingredient in 91 Degrees F clothing is phase changing materials by OUTLAST. Clothing with phase change materials (PCMs) either have infused or encapsulated material in the garment that can store and release heat by changing their phase. That is, the PCM part changes from solid to liquid as it absorbs heat, the same way ice absorbs heat from the local environment when it melts.
OUTLAST fabric is a proprietary material originally developed for NASA. The material stores heat and releases it when the skin cools. I don’t completely understand how the material maintains its consistency after several washes, but I can attest to its efficacy. I tested it out of the package, then compared my results after a half dozen wash cycles.
Obviously outlast material doesn’t have the ability to add refrigeration or heat to the wearer. It does, however, have the ability to noticeably lower or raise the surface skin temperature a degree or two, under normal circumstances. The 91 Degrees F products breathe well and this adds to the comfort and ability remove sweat from the surface of the skin.
I ran in them while our other tester cranked out arrests. The 91 Degrees F compression shirt was sworn in and worked several shifts in California’s Central Valley. I figured if 91 Degrees F claimed the product prevented chafing, I thought I’d put them into a position where chafing occurs regularly.
By the end of our test, all of the garments were washed at least a dozen times, used in warm and cool climates and logged at least 25 miles. The color stayed fast, the bright surface sheen of the garments was consistent and they still felt soft against the skin.
91 Degrees F products demonstrate that applied technology works and patrol officers are the winners.
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