Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 6 – 9. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.
Lighter means faster, and companies keep pushing their engineers to shave ounces off performance pieces. For spring/summer 2015 “minimalist” lives on as a performance apparel buzzword.
“Really, weight [for apparel] has only been a focus in the past couple of years,” said Eric Henderson, professional guide and communications manager for Dynafit North America. “People are now paying attention to how much they want to carry.”
As they find new ways to burn off ounces in apparel, brands have to be mindful not to eliminate performance attributes like durability, breathability and water resistance that consumers have come to expect. So many are coming up with elegant weight-saving solutions, like folding, welding and blending materials in addition to dialing in fit.
With shedding weight, a little can go a long way. Dynafit calls its Traverse GTX Jacket (MSRP $370) one of the “lightest and most minimalist Gore-Tex Active Shell jackets on the market thanks to small tweaks. It uses welded seams instead of glue or stitching. It also anatomically engineered the cuffs to taper with the arm, almost like a cone, eliminating the need for Velcro or snaps. The jacket weighs in at 9.2 ounces, but still provides protection waterproof/breathable protection with its 100 percent Active Shell.
Mountain Hardwear introduces its lightest alpine jacket ever, the Quasar Lite (MSRP $240),tipping the scale at 12.5 ounces for men and 10.8 ounces for women. The 2.5-layer jacket has Dry.Q Elite technology, which is air-permeable to help expel built-up heat and moisture. The company claims the micro air movement and accelerated breathability make the material nearly impossible to wet from the inside. The Quasar Lite includes harness- and pack-compatible zippered chest pockets that double as vents. It has stretch and mobility throughout, and a helmet-compatible hood with wire to hold its shape.
Ingredient brand eVent makes its entry into the air-permeable, waterproof/breathable space with its membrane technology DVStorm, which not only lightens up three-layer jackets with 15-denier face fabrics and 10-denier backers, but also allows stretch and softness. See it in the men’s 12-ounce and women’s 10-ounce Rab Muztag Jacket (MSRP $300) and the 10.5-ounce men’s Montane Featherlight Shell Jacket (MSRP $399), both of which sport high-level hand pockets and helmet-compatible hoods.
Marmot also aims for lightweight, stretchable waterproof/breathable protection in its men’s and women’s Crux Jacket (MSRP $275),featuring its 20-denier Stretch NanoPro MemBrain fabric with backpacker-friendly pockets, an adjustable hood and moldable brim while weighing just 8.5 ounces.
The Fuse Uno jacket earned The North Face a lot of buzz last winter. Instead of a jacket made of several segments sewn together, it’s a single piece of fabric that’s origami-folded to eliminate seams and stitching. FuseForm only needs a single piece of material because it’s manufactured to blend and map different yarns with different durability. No seams and a single piece of material mean a lot less weight and abrasion. The Originator (MSRP $299) is the spring/summer version of the FuseUno, but it’s the Dot Matrix (MSRP $199) TNF designers are calling the next development in FuseForm technology. The dots come from gradual blending of nylon with polyester down the body’s length. The result is a lighter jacket that still offers protection with added visual appeal.
Spring treks or trail runs can turn from sun to a soggy mess in a matter of minutes, making lightweight, storable pieces a go-to for the season. La Sportiva developed its Hail Jacket (MSRP $199) specifically for quick deployment and superior rain protection. It incorporates the company’s proprietary EctoShell 20 waterproof/breathable, 2.5-layer laminate, tested at a 20,000 mm waterproof rating. Weighing in at 178 grams for men and 168 grams for women (about 6 ounces), the jacket is feather-light for the amount of protection it provides in extreme situations. There’s also a Hail Pant (MSRP $179).
For runners, Ibex brings a whole new sport line based around its Weightless Wool, or W2, fabric. It takes light merino wool and wraps it around a nylon core, keeping the wool’s natural breathability comfort while adding the synthetic’s durability. The overall ratio is 87 percent Merino to 3 percent nylon. The W2 Sport Zip (MSRPs $100 women; $110 men) further cuts weight by eliminating tags, incorporating flat lock seams and dialing fit so there’s no unnecessary bulk.