Next year's shells bring more breathable innovations - SNEWS

Next year's shells bring more breathable innovations

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Burlier shell fabrics and venting insulations fill out shell tech.

Let Me Vent

Venting continues its journey beyond the pit zips, with this season’s introduction of new technologies aimed at actively dumping heat during high-output bursts. Polartec Alpha Direct looks to continue its market prominence by dropping its inner liner for increased ventilation and a greater thermal range in active pursuits. Since increased output goes hand-in-hand with increased motion, The North Face debuts an insulated jacket with venting slits in the synthetic insulation. The Ventrix’s tiny gills remain closed when the fabric is relaxed, but open to release heat when flexed.

Getting Tough

A vexing problem for shells: As textiles get thicker, breathability suffers. eVent drops its new DVexpedition membrane into that familiar equation. The new three-layer material is built tougher than the other members of its Direct Venting line and is designed for periodic hard efforts in bad weather, such as backcountry touring. “Our focus with all the different technology stories is to match textiles to activities,” said Chad Kelly, eVent’s sales and product line director. DVexpedition has about half the air permeability and breathability of its next closest kin, the higher output-oriented DValpine. Look for DVexpedition in a few pieces from Rab and Flylow.

Photo courtesy of Dynafit

Photo courtesy of Dynafit

Going Up

At the other end of the exertion spectrum, we find the hard-chargers out for a workout. Unlike all-day alpine missions, these athletes are quick to turn around and don’t need as much weather protection. On most occasions, a lightweight winter softshell that efficiently dumps heat and protects from light weather is all they’ll need or want. The tribe of early-morning skinners remains small, but more than 70 resorts report increased interest in the new activity. Dynafit places a bet on growth here with its SpeedFit line.

Photo courtesy of Arc'teryx

Photo courtesy of Arc'teryx

A twofer with climbers and alpinists in mind, the Arc’teryx Alpha IS Jacket ($899) is a 21-ounce belay option. The two-layer Gore-Tex shell uses DWR-treated ThermaTek insulation and Coreloft Continuous 65 in the shoulders for keeping joints warm while hanging tight cliffside.

Photo courtesy of Flylow

Photo courtesy of Flylow

Flylow updates its Lab Coat ($525) to be more wind- and waterproof by using eVent’s DVexpedition membrane. It maintains the backpack-friendly pockets and joint articulation that have made it a popular selection among freeriders and anyone who’d happily exchange bad weather for smaller crowds.

Photo courtesy of The North Face

Photo courtesy of The North Face

The North Face debuts an adaptable stretch synthetic insulation throughout its women’s Summit L3 Ventrix Hoodie ($280), designed to allow perspiration and excess heat to move out when stretched. Micro-perforations in the shell’s hot zones help, too. The forearms get a heavier fabric to withstand abrasion.

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Research

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research’s Ascendant Hoody ($215) pairs the two-layer construction of Polartec’s Alpha Direct a8ctive insulation, which is durable enough to forego a liner and thus has one less barrier to venting vapor. A stretch-woven, air-permeable Pertex Microlight shell optimizes the jacket’s breathability. The corresponding range of temperature performance is this jacket’s biggest selling point

This article was originally published on p. 18 of the Day 0 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily Winter Market 2017.

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