Comfort Wear Test

A subjective garment evaluation is a controlled laboratory wear study that gathers human responses to test items while participants follow a schedule of prescribed activities. A specified test protocol is developed to include periods of physical activity alternating with periods of rest in both moderate and mildly warm climatic conditions. Prior to donning the test ensemble and beginning a test session, there is a preconditioning period where evaluators, upon arrival, sit quietly to come to a relaxed state. An important part of the activity routine is the exercise period that produces a sweat-wetted-skin condition. At times, activities from ASTM F 1154 Standard Practices for Qualitatively Evaluating the Comfort, Fit, Function, and Durability of Protective Ensembles and Ensemble Components are incorporated into the wear test protocol.

A representative test protocol is shown in the table below and has been utilized in evaluation of athletic wear, dress shirts, coveralls, surgical gowns, and numerous other clothing items.
Rating Period
Time (mins)
Activity
Temperature ° C (° F)
Realtive Humidity (%)
1
10
rest
ambient
ambient
2
12
exercise*
ambient
ambient
3
15
rest
29.4 (85)
85
4
5
stretching
29.4 (85)
85
5
10
rest
ambient
ambient

*Designed to produce a sweat: treadmill walking / running, group aerobics with a video

The test garments are randomly assigned to evaluators so that different types are worn in each test session. This practice assures that more independent ratings are obtained. Additionally, evaluators are instructed not to discuss the test garments or their ratings. An evaluation form is used to obtain ratings of comfort and sensory tactile properties for each of the periods outlined in the protocol. The first items on the evaluation form require evaluators to rate overall comfort, warm-cool feeling, softness, and / or moistness of the garment. Rating values range from 1-7, with 7 representing the most comfortable, coolest, and softest garment.

The degree to which the test subject perceives comfort, thermal feelings, softness and moistness requires further rating of descriptor terms selected to be representative of the fabric properties that are most relevant for the test garment application. These descriptors are stated negatively because individuals are better able to discern degrees of tactile unpleasantness than degrees of tactile pleasantness. Values of 1-5 are assigned in these ratings with 1 = “totally” and 5 = “no sensation” (do not sense any negative quality). Higher values denote a more desirable quality.

The table below lists some suggested descriptor terms with an associated physical property of the garment fabric.

Suggested Descriptor Terms
Sensory Quality Descriptor
Associated Physical Property
Snug
Fit
Heavy
Weight
Stiff
Bending
Sticky
Moisture
Damp
Moisture
Nonstretchy
Tensile
Scratchy
Surface

Typically 30 – 40 participants are used in a study depending on whether the study is for males or females or a combination of both. Often, evaluators are obtained from the North Carolina State University student population. Volunteers are determined, through a screening process, to be healthy nonsmoking individuals between 18 and 35 years of age with no dermal contact issues.