"It's like wearing a space blanket."
That's how Anna Sanford of Columbia describes Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective, a shiny, reflective aluminum material that's on the inside of numerous new fall-winter 2010 Columbia products.
The shiny metal is applied dot-matrix style on top of a moisture-wicking, breathable fabric, and accounts for 35 percent of the layer's material. The aluminum reflects the wearer's body warmth back to him or her, helping to retain warmth, while a wicking fabric helps regulate excess heat.
The distinctive Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective fabric can be found on the inside of Columbia beanies and a variety of jackets. Sanford says the technology promises heat retention and regulation in versatile pieces, without a lot of bulk. "It helps keep consumers warm, without always walking around in a Michelin Man jacket," she said.
Metals are popping up in unexpected outdoor gear places all over Outdoor Retailer. Therm-a-Rest's updated RidgeRest Solar has an alumunized surface that increases warmth 13 percent, and the Everest-bound Champion Super Suit, also includes a metallicized foil membrane that reflects body heat back to the wearer.