The Skinny on Thinsulate™
What is Thinsulate™ and why should you considerate it when selecting your next safety work gloves? Read to learn more...
On average, you come across a 3M product 40 times a day — from reflective signs and cellphone screens to Scotch™ tape and Post-It™ notes. One of its most popular products is Thinsulate™, the original high-performance insulation that delivers thermal warmth without bulk.
Over the years, Thinsulate™ has taken the place of down feathers and other insulating materials. Originally made for the U.S. Army in the mid-1980s, you can now find Thinsulate™ in everything from work gloves and outwear to soundproofing products and window film.
Thinsulate™ works by trapping more air in less space, due to its lightweight microfibers. The more air it traps, the warmer you stay. This explains why winter jackets that used to be bulky can now be thin yet surprisingly warm.
RELATED: Check out our handy guide to choose the right Thinsulate™ gloves.
Now, there are varieties of Thinsulate™ that offer extra benefits. There's even a recycled version constructed from 50 percent post-consumer waste. Thinsulate™ may even be in your laptop, providing heat protection to your legs. Thinsulate™ is manufactured in seven different insulation formulas:
- Original Type G: The workhorse of all formulas, the original Thinsulate™ is warm yet lightweight It offers superior warmth, softness, breathability, and is effective in both dry and wet conditions.
- Original Type C: This version of Thinsulate™ features all the benefits of Type G, with an extra boost of warmth.
- Flame-Resistant: Designed mostly for the utility, oil and gas industries, this formula incorporates flame-resistant fibers to protect against unplanned or accidental flames, heat, or electrical arc.
- Featherless: A loose fill design that mimics the look and feel of down, performing exceptionally well in wet conditions.
- Water-Resistant: Made with hydrophobic fibers, this formula offers improved water resistance, keeping wearers warm, comfortable and dry without unnecessary weight.
- Stretch: Designed to stretch a full 40 percent and move with you, this Thinsulate™ version provides comfort and dexterity.
- Odor-Resistant: This Thinsulate™ features X-Static fibers, blending the benefits of insulation and metal fibers to reduce odor-causing bacteria.
Work gloves, boots and outwear constructed with Thinsulate™ have earned a reputation among work crews for durable, dependable and comfortable warmth. The brand has become a must-have for workers seeking supreme warmth, comfort and performance in both wet and dry conditions. You’ll find the original types (G/KL and C) of Thinsulate™ in top-quality work gloves, like ones made by MCR Safety.
A unique characteristic of Thinsulate™ is how it interacts with the wearer’s body temperature and activity level. Acting like a heat reflector, Thinsulate™ adjusts to body heat to deliver the right amount of insulation. To enhance the temperature performance of Thinsulate™, we recommend that you select the right amount of insulation (measured in grams per square meter, or GSM) for your activity level.
A great illustration of this is with work gloves. A lower GSM level delivers less protection in cold conditions. However, it delivers increased dexterity for detailed tasks. High GSM delivers greater warmth, but dexterity is reduced.
|GSM (grams per square meter)||Temperature||Activity Level||Conditions|
|80-100||above 20°F||above 20°F||very cold|
|100-200||below 20°F||very light||extremely cold|
|200-800||-30°F and colder||very light||artic|
It is difficult to provide exact warmth ratings or temperature limits on PPE insulated with Thinsulate™, due to the fluctuation in accuracy associated with different tasks and activities. But as a rule, those engaged in intense work activities should select a lower gram thickness to achieve ideal warmth.
Some manufacturers, like MCR Safety, use Clo lab testing to provide greater insight into a product’s specific warming capabilities. Clo is the measurement of insulation needed to provide warmth based on the resting temperature. This gives the wearer additional guidance when choosing the best hand protection and outerwear for his or her work environment.