How we select and test our fabrics


At Gill, we believe that in order to best meet our customers’ needs, we have to have every base covered. How best to do this in the field of marine water sports apparel? Go right down to every microbe of the products you sell.

We have a long history of selecting and collaborating with trusted fabric partners which allows us to source the highest performing fabrics out there, suited to the marine environment.

Our commitment to providing the very best for our customers is all-encompassing. Our latest blog provides you with all you need to know about the fabric selection and testing process we have.

Testing to the Nth degree

Over the course of our many decades in the industry, we have established strong working relationships with many fabric mills so that we are in a position to constantly innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible.

We intensely test fabrics and products in our lab throughout the development process to ensure we do not use a fabric that is less than perfect. From initial deliberations and even to mass production, if there’s a problem, we want to know about it.

Our lab can test across the spectrum of performance characteristics, all of which ensure you have the best protection possible whilst out on the water. Our main tests include:

Hydrostatic Head

Our Hydrostatic Head tests measure how tall a column of water the fabric can hold before it begins to seep through. A minimum of 1,500mm HH is the set industry standard, we go above and beyond this requirement, where each waterproof garment is rated 5,000mm HH to 20,000+mm HH.

Our high standards mean our customers have the confidence that their product will protect them against the harshest of conditions.



If you’ve ever felt that a waterproof jacket has ‘leaked’ then it could be perspiration from inside that you’re feeling. Allowing sweat and moisture to escape from your layers is just as important as not allowing the water and rain in.

Of the three test methods available to show how many grams of water vapour are able to pass through a fabric, we use two, depending on the fabric type which measures how much perspiration can escape from our garments. We also use a breathable membrane as well as a mesh lining.

Corrosion resistance

As a marine enthusiast, we’re sure you have come across issues where the salt water causes zips and other metal products to corrode, making the metal weak and brittle over time.

Our testing means our trims are submerged a sample of salt water for four hours. On top of this we mimic the effect of heat and humidity by placing them in an oven at 70 degrees for an initial period of 24hrs, followed by a week if required.

These tests are to ensure the longevity of our metal, as having them fail is simply not an option.

Our Corrosion tests are carried out on metal trims such as zips and eyelets, particularly for those products where their trims are exposed to salt water or a PFD (personal flotation device).

Abrasion resistance

Harsh surfaces are found everywhere in the marine world, which it is essential our garments stand the test of time during wear. In order to test abrasion resistance, we test our fabric durability against 320 grit paper, which mimics the harsh surface of a deck.

Our abrasion tests are carried out on our outerwear products, particularly those worn on a boat with the most important element being the reinforced fabric on the knees and seat.

Spray rating

Performance of a durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the surface of a fabric is imperative in our industry. Our spray testing ensures that water ‘beads’ off the surface of the fabric and is not absorbed, which eventually causes discomfort to the wearer.

The testing is carried out on all waterproof fabrics, particularly those which will be constantly showered with water to ensure you are 100% protected from the elements.

Other testing also includes: Water testing, Aging, Snagging, Colour fastness

You can watch our series of testing processes here.

Our quick reference tool

In order for you to easily find which garment best meets your needs, our quick reference tool has been introduced to indicate how well a product performs under our three main categories of Waterproofness, Breathability and Durability.

To ensure you have the right product for your activity, head over to our fabric technology and performance page to find out more information, or navigate to an individual product to find out how each of our garments perform in the categories.

Freedom to Innovate

Due to the intensity of our testing practices, we are in a position to truly know when we are onto something great. We choose not to work with a single branded fabric supplier, but instead opt to have an open supply chain which allows us to innovate without restriction and continually search for the best fabrics for our apparel.

By maintaining the drive to advance what we offer, we believe we can continuously stay ahead of the game and provide true value and quality to our customers.

We also complete comparative testing of our chosen fabrics against specific branded fabrics which allows us to ensure we are leading the way across all checkpoints, which has only ever confirmed that our fabrics outperform theirs.

An Expert View

“Once you understand that the vast majority of ready-made waterproof fabrics are made for outdoor or sport use, you soon realise that many of them just aren’t designed to cope with the marine conditions experienced by our customers.”

Matt Clark, Gill Product Development Director.

Matt Clark is our Product Development Director at Gill. He drives our commitment to finding the very best fabrics in terms of suitability, quality and efficiency.

“Once you understand that the vast majority of ready-made waterproof fabrics are made for outdoor or sport use, you soon realise that many of them just aren’t designed to cope with the marine conditions experienced by our customers,” he explains. “Extremely wet conditions, the flogging action of wind and even the abrasive and corrosive effects of saltwater are some of the challenges our garments have to overcome. We also love experimentation and innovation, so many of our fabrics are the end result of collaboration with our fabric partners as we look for the perfect blend of waterproofness, breathability and durability.”

“XPLORE fabrics are 2-layer systems that offer weight reduction, comfort and high levels of breathability. XPLORE+ fabrics are 3-layer constructions that don’t require a separate lining and are incredibly waterproof and durable. Each garment now comes with an easy-to-understand rating that shows the level of waterproof, breathability and durability provided.”

Matt Clarke, Gill Product Development Director, February 2021.

Our simple fabric hierarchy XPLORE and XPLORE+ have been developed upon the drive for the very best fabrics. Our two and three-layer fabric technologies are waterproof, breathable and durable, delivering high levels of performance for a variety of conditions, you can find out more about these fabrics here (link to fabric blog).

“XPEL is a high-performance fabric finish using a combination of plant based, PFOA-Free and PFOS-Free Chemistry with all of its ingredients classified as Non-Polyfluorinated compounds (Non-PFC)… The chemicals are Bluesign approved, as well as REACH and ZDHC compliant.

Beyond its environmental credentials, there is a long list of direct benefits for the Gill consumer. Durable water repellence, oil and stain resistance, improved abrasion resistance, odour resistance and mildew resistance are just a few of XPEL’s unique features.”

Matt Clarke, Gill Product Development Director, February 2021.

Our new XPEL fabric finish, now available globally on our OS3 Coastal System, is a recent addition that helps set us apart from our competitors. And what’s more, we will be rolling out many more styles featuring XPEL protection later this year as we increase its use across the collection.

Our constant flow of new developments is being put through its paces either in our lab or out on the water at any one time and our constant strive for innovation is truly what makes us stand out from the crowd.

Shop with Gill today

Our range of products – made using what we believe to be the best fabrics in the industry – is perfect for anybody from experienced water sports enthusiasts to beginners looking for the best water sports apparel for their needs.

You can shop by activity or search for a specific item of clothing. Take a look through our accessories too, and if you want to learn more about our commitment to sustainability, you can do so here.

Be sure to look as well at our delivery options, and if you have questions, simply get in touch with the Gill team. We will be happy to support and offer our own insights and knowledge to guide your purchasing decision.