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Outdoor Retailer Gear Preview: Warm and Dry Apparel

by Alicia MacLeay
January 16, 2012

In our final Outdoor Retailer gear preview we highlight insulation and outerwear (what can I say, it's been very cold here). Expect even more puffy jackets, plus down and wool insulation and mid and outer layers in the backcountry, and around town.

If you missed them, also check out our On Snow and Gear OR previews, and get ready for even more coverage direct from Salt Lake City, January 18-22.


Up until now down and water haven't mixed well. But so far, the big story in fall 2012 insulation is hydrophobic or water-resistant down. That's down that's been treated with a polymer to make it more resistant to water (though not waterproof), and thus better able to maintain its loft and thermal efficiency, even in wet conditions.

Sierra Designs was the first to announce its "game-changing" hydrophobic DriDown, "a molecular level polymer applied to individual down plumes during the down finishing process," which will appear in five 600-fill sleeping bags, plus the Tov belay (above left; $259, men's and women's) and Gnar Lite jackets ($229, men's and women's).

Brooks-Range also is introducing its 800-fill Mojave Jacket (above right, $299) made with DownTec water-resistant technology. DownTec features down "treated with a micro-thin nano polymer, resulting in a water-repellent, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial insulation that actually floats on water," says Brooks-Range.


In synthetic insulation, Patagonia goes the hybrid route with several pieces, including the Nano Puff Hybrid Jacket (above, $249). The Nano Puff Hybrid, developed in conjunction with Patagonia’s climbing ambassadors, combines a compressible Nano Puff top, made of recycled polyester shell with PrimaLoft synthetic insulation, with R2 fleece to vent at the midsection, underarm panels, and back.


Outdoor Research is expanding into apparel for skiers and climbers venturing into cold, dry conditions, and increasing its offerings 65 percent in the process. The Lodestar Jacket (above, $450) and Pant ($399) are made for ice and alpine climbing in cold climates. In core areas, OR uses Polartec's Power Shield High Loft fabric, a weatherproof, breathable nylon softshell with a high-loft fleece on the inside for warmth. On areas more exposed to weather (shoulders, hood, knees, butt), OR uses Power Shield Pro, a laminated soft shell fabric for added weather protection.

Outdoor Research says "the result is a piece that works like a down- or synthetic-insulated piece in terms of warmth, but dries quickly like fleece, and is surprisingly lightweight, with exceptional mobility."

Columbia says its Ultrachange Jacket offers winter-worthy warmth in a 3-in-1 system. The 9.6-ounce Omni-Dry breathable waterproof shell "wicks and breathes while providing our most advanced wet-weather protection." Plus an optional synthetic liner offers additional insulation or acts as a standalone. The Ultrachange (above, $450, men's and women's) is fully seam-sealed, features a helmet-compatible hood, two-way waterproof front zipper, and backpack-friendly seaming and pocket placement.


You'll see wool in more pieces and in more forms and configurations, including water­‐resistant merino wool jackets from Icebreaker. The Realfleece Nano jackets (men's Kodiak Hood and Kodiak Zip, above; women's Arctic Zip and Arctic Hood) contain tiny nano (we're hearing that word a lot) particles that attach themselves to the merino fiber, leaving tiny pockets of air for breathability. Icebreaker also is offering merino‐insulated soft shell jackets: merino Realfleece fabric next to skin, a windproof polyurethane layer in the middle, and a water-­resistant polyester layer on the outside.


In addition to its American-wool Shak Lite offerings, Ibex will debut six pieces with its proprietary Wool Loft Insulation, which is 90 percent merino wool and 10 percent inego, a synthetic fabric derived from corn starch that is a binding agent with wool. The men’s and women’s garments include the Aire Hoody (above, $325), Aire Sweater ($300), and Aire Vest ($280).


That's just a sample of what will be on view at Outdoor Retailer to keep you warm and dry outdoors next winter.

Brands like La Sportiva will debut new apparel lines (we'll have to wait another year or so to see what Black Diamond has planned for its apparel launch). Lowe Alpine will reappear under new ownership. Plus hundreds of other brands big and small will offer baselayers, insulation, shells, and apparel to keep us warm and dry from head (beanie) to toe (socks).