Lifa Infinity Pro
A waterproof/breathable fabric that finally ditches DWR.
(This story originally featured in Wild #180)
Now, hopefully you’ve read Xavier Andersons piece ‘The DWR Problem’ in this issue of Wild. If you haven’t, check it out (p42), but in short, most Durable Water Repellent treatments involve the use of PFCs, which are harmful to both humans and the environment. When Xavier initally wrote the piece though, while both he and I knew of a few garments out there with PFC-free DWR, neither of us knew of waterproof/breathable garments existing that not only don’t use DWR, but that don’t use chemicals at all. But then we learnt about Helly Hansen’s proprietary waterproof/breathable fabric Lifa Infinity Pro which, in short, instead of using chemicals, achieves waterproofness via fibre selection, and through physical manipulation of the materials, such as heating and stretching.
To be fair, the fabric is new, and only properly arrived on Australian shores earlier this year. But garments using it, like Helly’s Elevation Infinity Shell, have been winning 2020 and 2021 Northern Hemisphere awards—like at ISPO, Red Dot, and Outdoor Retailer—thanks in large part to their eco-friendly production.
The fabric combines a hydrophobic face fabric with the Lifa Infinity membrane. The latter is created via a solvent-free process, after which it is stretched—at different temperatures—in varying directions. The result is mainly, well, nothing. The membrane is 75% air. Not only do these nanoscale pores allow great breathability, they allow for an extremely lightweight membrane weighing just 4g per square metre.
The face (outer) fabric is the element where manufacturers usually apply a DWR coating; as noted earlier, all-too-often this treatment involves PFCs. But Helly’s use of Lifa fibres (a proprietary fibre based on polypropylene, which has a much lower surface tension in comparison to polyester and polyamide fibres) allows the company to do away with chemicals and the DWR process in its entirety. Not only is this more eco-friendly, it has performance benefits, too. There is no DWR to rub off or wear away; the garment never needs treatment, or even tumble drying, to reactivate water repellency.
While all this sounds awesome on paper, does it deliver in practice? Well, over the coming winter, Wild will put Lifa Infinity Pro to the test. We’ll deliver our verdict in the next issue.