Keep Your Service Technicians Warm With High-Tech Clothing

Rest easy knowing your portable restroom operation's employees are safe and warm this winter

Keep Your Service Technicians Warm With High-Tech Clothing

Rich Anderson of Jimmy's Johnnys unspools up a suction hose after servicing a bank of PolyJohn Enterprises restrooms at Super Bowl LIVE in Minneapolis. The WorkMate truck from FMI Truck Sales & Service carries a 750-gallon wastewater steel tank, 300-gallon freshwater poly tank and Masport pump. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy's Johnnys)

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When the polar vortex hit the U.S. earlier this year, you may have noticed that many people — but not all — stopped working. There were portable restroom operators braving the cold to keep waste tanks from freezing and to provide sanitation to communities left without running water due to pipe freezing. It seems incredible that someone could work efficiently in extreme weather conditions, let alone survive. Yet, we do it all the time, thanks to improvements in clothing technology.

Modern society now relies on advancements in clothing technology to keep us functioning and on the move, regardless of extreme heat or cold. Which clothing technologies have had the greatest impact on our ability to endure extreme weather? 

Moisture-wicking fabrics

For a millennial, it’s easy to assume moisture-wicking clothing has been around for ages. Although natural fabrics such as wool and silk have been around for thousands of years and boast moisture-wicking capabilities, the clothing technology we use today was invented from synthetic fabric in the 1990s.

Moisture-wicking clothing made from synthetic blends has proved critical to surviving both extreme cold and heat. When our bodies sweat, the moisture must evaporate from the skin or else our skin temperature drops. This is one reason why those working in cold conditions rely on moisture-wicking base layers to keep them warm and dry for long hours in subzero temperatures.

Premium-quality insulation

The next breakthrough in clothing technology was the significant improvement to insulated clothing. Previously, people in extremely cold regions relied on furs to trap heat and keep them nice and warm. Unfortunately, real fur poses a few problems. Besides being a point of contention among animal lovers, it’s also incredibly bulky — a deal breaker for those who are required to stay flexible and nimble on the job. Thanks to premium-quality insulation such as Thinsulate and moveable clothing design elements like Performance-Flex, cold-weather PROs can get the protection and flexibility they need to maximize their performance as they work in cold conditions. Another selling point? Synthetic insulation is hypoallergenic and extremely durable — a must for outdoor work.

Durable water-repellent footwear

Durable, water-repellent coatings were invented in 1969 and are now commonly added to clothing to enhance their waterproof exterior. However, some might argue that their biggest impact was on the footwear industry. In earlier times, footwear had suffered from poor construction, which left shoes susceptible to water permeation. As most people probably know, working with wet feet is incredibly unpleasant and can lead to frostbite or worse, including gangrene and toe amputation. Waterproof footwear has helped portable sanitation service techs keep their feet warm and dry even through prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. When paired with moisture-wicking socks, your feet are fully reaping the benefits of modern clothing technology.

Enhanced clothing features

While the fabric itself undoubtedly plays a huge role in keeping us dry and comfortable, we’ve also managed to improve the performance of our clothing through sheer design alone. Take your pockets, for example, which can be used for more than the convenience of holding tools and valuables. In fact, many pockets are strategically designed to provide excellent ventilation to keep you cool when the mercury soars. Other pockets act as hand warmers and are reinforced with additional insulation to prevent heat from escaping.

The seams of insulating jackets are another feature that can make or break cold-weather gear. Seams are porous and allow heat to escape, which is why many in freezing climates choose cold-weather jackets with bonded seams to seal out cold air. With each year, clothing companies find new and innovative ways to design their clothing for superior protection against the elements. From drawstrings at the bottom of coats to trap warm air inside to strategic cutouts to boost ventilation, there are now many design options that can maximize the performance of clothing.

Windproof fabrics and finishes

Anyone who lives in an area with strong wind gusts knows how miserable it can be without the right gear. Although the thermometer reads 15 degrees F, the temperature can feel much colder based on how fast the wind is blowing. Although insulated clothing can help keep us warm by trapping heat close to the body, wind can steal our precious heat layer by blowing it away. This is why windproof finishes and fabrics have become a common feature in outer layers. Windproof fabrics (such as those used for polyester soft shells) are made by tightly weaving fibers to prevent heat loss, effectively trapping warm air inside your insulating layers.

Smart clothing

While smart clothing may still be relatively new, it’s on track to become mainstream. Smart clothing has numerous benefits for those enduring extreme weather conditions, one of which is their ability to adapt to the environment and the wearer’s body. Using cutting-edge technology, smart clothing can recognize when your body is too hot or cold and adjust itself to allow for more or less airflow based on the wearer’s needs.

This is huge for PROs and service technicians who need gear that performs in demanding conditions. Unfortunately, we’re still working out a few kinks with smart clothing, but, in a few years, we’ll no doubt be seeing this technology utilized in amazing ways to improve comfort and the ability to endure the most extreme weather. 

Final thoughts

It’s easy to take our moisture-wicking socks and insulated jackets for granted, but make no mistake: Clothing tech has dramatically changed the way we work. The slow evolution from deerskin shoes and bulky fur pelts to high-performance gear has played a significant role in keeping modern society humming along by allowing us to endure brutal weather conditions. The next time you slip on your bib overalls and insulated jacket, you’ll be amazed at how your modern clothing continues to defy Mother Nature.

About the author

Natalie Bucsko serves as the marketing communications specialist for RefrigiWear. From the Dahlonega, Georgia, headquarters, Bucsko oversees all content, including the website, knowledge center, blog, catalog, email and social media. She enjoys cooking and baking, sports, reading and spending time outdoors — especially when it is cold.


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