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Ventile, is a registered trademark used to brand a special high-quality woven cotton fabric first developed by scientists at the Shirley Institute in Manchester, England. Originally created to replace a shortage of flax - used for fire hoses and water buckets - its properties were also found to be ideal for pilots' immersion suits.[1]

Using extra-long-staple (ELS) cotton fibres to form low-twist yarns these are then woven into a tight high-density textile to create a 100% cotton fabric capable of providing an effective barrier against inclement weather. In wet weather the softly spun yarns - within the tight weave - dynamically expand to form an effective barrier against the elements.[2]

Currently the only manufacturer of this specification of cotton textile is Stotz & Co AG,[3] where they spin, twist, weave and dye the raw materials in their native Switzerland, and sell the textile directly under their own branding of etaProof[4] cotton; supplying clothing manufacturers and wholesale textile distributors globally.

British production of Ventile eventually ended in the late 20th century[5] but the trademark continues to be used by the British company Talbot Weaving (Chorley) Limited[6] to market their wholesale distribution of etaProof cotton fabrics. Alternative registered trademarks, owned by other commercial organisations used to market, promote or distribute the fabric, include Supermarine[7] and Duuton3.[2]

Technical detail[edit]

Cotton fibers of etaProof

The cotton textile is densely woven from an extra long staple fibre (ELS). Although weatherproof, it is not coated or laminated; the combination of a dense weave and the swelling of the fibres when wet provide excellent weatherproofing.[6] ELS cotton fibres are only available from around 2% of the world's entire cotton crop, but due to their naturally long length this creates yarns of superior strength as they can be spun using an exceptionally low twist.[8] The natural product offers a high level of comfort due to its drape and breathability while being durable and quiet in use. It also has good resistance to tearing and burning.[6][9] It is not as light in weight as synthetic fabrics, particularly when wet.[9] While only fabrics scoring Hydrostatic head measurements of 1000mm, or more, are technically considered to be fully waterproof, etaProof fabrics (250g to 270g standard versions) achieve measurements no less than 750mm. This is usually considered to be sufficient for reasonable protection against typical rain, while the standard 300g version scores 900mm, whereby the British MOD consider a measurement of 800mm as waterproof.[10]

Fabric specifications (Ventile/etaProof)[11][12]
L34/5640 L24/5620 L24RS/5620RS L19/5610 L27/5635 L28/5630 Dry520
Fabric weight(g/m2) 170 200 210 240 270 290 520
Threads/cm warp 95 81 68 71 16.5
Threads/cm weft 35 30 26 11.5
Breaking strength warp minimum(N/5 cm) 1000 1100 1200 1400 1200 1500 2500
Breaking strength weft minimum(N/5 cm) 650 750 1000 1400 2200
Tear strength warp minimum(g) 900 1200 1300 1800 2200 2000
Tear strength weft minimum(g) 650 750 850 1600 1500 1600 1500
Impregnation of DWR fluorocarbon
Water absorption(max. %) 10
Resistance to water hydrostatic head(mm) 750 750 600 750 900 400-500
Oil repellency(rating) 5-6 5 5-6

L24/5620 and L19/5610 are made also in Organic[13] way, denominated 5620.1 RUC and 5610.1 RUC respectively, replacing the fluorocarbon of DWR with paraffin wax. With this change, three properties worsened:[12] Water absorption changed from 10% to 15%, Resistance to water hydrostatic head changed from 750mm to 600mm and Oil repellency changed from 5-6 to 0.


Fabrics made from the material are used in outerwear performance garments and have military, medical and workwear applications.

Ventile is still used in military uniforms, especially for pilots flying over water.[14] It is not often used in the United States, but in Europe, especially in the UK, it has had a revival with the bushcraft movement. It is popular with birdwatchers and naturalists because, unlike synthetic fabrics such as Gore-Tex, it is quiet in use.[9]


External links[edit]

  • Ventile, Talbot Weaving (Chorley) Ltd. (Described as Ltd on their website).
  • EtaProof, Stotz & Co AG.