Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09: Tech apparel makers bulk up on insulation

With an eye toward next winter, it's not surprising that insulated pieces were getting the lion's share of the attention at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09. Cloudveil, Patagonia and Marmot have extensively revamped their lines, while Canada Goose is playing with lighter-weight down jackets for the first time. Both Outdoor Research and Rab showed jackets that have waterproof/breathable shells with an insulated core to battle the elements. And GoLite has also now entered the insulation game. Green stories abound too as companies -- including like Sierra Designs, Isis, Patagonia, The North Face and Mountain Hardwear -- work to incorporate more recycled shells and eco insulations into jackets.
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With an eye toward next winter, it's not surprising that insulated pieces were getting the lion's share of the attention at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09. Apparel makers have upped the ante in insulation innovation by trying to strike the right balance between providing more warmth while keeping weight down.

Cloudveil, Patagonia and Marmot have extensively revamped their lines, while Canada Goose is playing with lighter-weight down jackets for the first time. Both Outdoor Research and Rab showed jackets that have waterproof/breathable shells with an insulated core to battle the elements. And GoLite has also now entered the insulation game.

Green stories abound too as companies -- including like Sierra Designs, Isis, Patagonia, The North Face and Mountain Hardwear -- work to incorporate more recycled shells and eco insulations into jackets. Patagonia said the use of recycled/recyclable fabrics and insulations is bringing the company closer to its goal of making its entire product line recycled or recyclable. That was a theme SENWS® also heard a lot at the recent winter ispo show held right after ORWM (Click here to see that Feb. 23 story, “ispo outdoor continues to resonate with global attendees for new trends, technologies and eco lifestyle.” 

And now for a few of the products that caught our editors’ eyes, in alphabetical order:

The men's Sentry (MSRP $600) and women's Sceptre (MSRP $550) jackets are Arc'Teryx's first insulated ski jackets in the Descent series. They have a Gore-Tex Pro Shell outer, are insulated with non-quilted Primaloft Sport insulation, and come with laminated powder skirts and pit zips. Weighing in at under a pound, the Atom LT (MSRP $199) is a hybrid hoody designed as an active-use insulation layer or a stand-alone piece. It has Coreloft insulation in the torso, arms and hood, and Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Techology in the side panels and underarms for stretch mobility and breathability. www.arcteryx.com

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Known for its burly insulated jackets for Arctic exploration, Canada Goose debuted a line of lightweight down jackets and vests, which Kevin Spreekmeester, vice president of marketing, told SNEWS® "is a big step for us." What sets its jackets apart is the down layer housed between two layers of Pertex for added windproofness. Because the stitching is on the hidden middle layer, the front of the jacket has a cool-looking ripple effect. The Lodge 750-fill down jacket (photo to right) comes in men's and women's sizing for $300; the vest is $250. The down jacket has a toggle on the neck and a loop in the pocket so it can snap into the Stormchaser (MSRP $495) or Town (MSRP $375) hard shell jackets. www.canada-goose.com

Cloudveil's insulated down and synthetic lines are filled with new and revised pieces. The mac daddy of the group is the Koven Plus Down jacket (photo to right) that the company calls "a hybrid of natural fibers and 21st century technical fabrics." Fully seam sealed, it's stuffed with 700-fill down, covered with the company's proprietary Cloudburst Stretch face fabric and lined with Mirage Rip-Stop, a down-proof fabric with high tear resistance and made from 50-percent recycled polyester. Available in men's and women's for $500. www.cloudveil.com

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GoLite said 85 percent of its line is new and chunk of that could be attributed to the addition of a new down and synthetic insulation category for men and women. The men's Roan Plateau 800 hooded jacket (MSRP $275) is 100-percent nylon mini ripstop with DWR and 800 fill down, weighing in at 19.3 ounces. The Cady 2477 synthetic jacket (MSRP $150) has a recycled polyester face and lining with 3M fill of olefin and recycled polyester. Each jacket and vest fits in an accompanying stuff sack. www.golite.com

In its insulation series, Isis is offering more styles with recycled materials like the Tengo Frio jacket (MSRP $199 -- photo to right). It's made with a 100-percent recycled polyester outer shell and Eco Primaloft insulation and has an adjustable hood, velvet-lined collar and internal zip security pocket. A lightweight 800-fill down jacket, the Slipstream jacket (MSRP $229) offers a high warmth-to-weight ratio and has an eye-catching maze-like quilt design. It also comes with a stuff sack for the jacket. www.isisforwomen.com

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Each with a wet-looking finish, Marmot's Stockholm jacket (MSRP $225) for men, and the Enoble jacket (MSRP $225) for women, are made with a DWR-coated Lumine nylon outer and filled with 650-fill goose down. The men's has a zip-off hood, while the women's has a slight V-neck opening with a structured, high-back collar. www.marmot.com

Mountain Hardwear has pumped up the Nitrous Hooded jacket and vest with 800-fill goose down and an outer of EcoSensor Ripstop made with a blend of virgin and recycled polyester fibers. Available in men's and women's sizing, they have quilted construction to hold the insulation in place and compress down to fit in the provided stuff sack. Jackets retail for $240 and vests are $180. www.mountainhardwear.com

With a focus on the downhill descent, Outdoor Research debuted the Igneo jacket for deep and cold winter days while backcountry or sidecountry skiing. With a waterproof/breathable two-layer Pertex Shield outer, the jacket is filled with Enduraloft insulation -- 100 grams in the body and 60 grams in the sleeves. It has a zip-off and adjustable hood that fits over a helmet but is not insulated. Other features include a front zipper with external storm flap, pit zips, articulated elbows, elastic cuffs with hook-and-loop tabs and dual drawcord hem adjustments. An insulated Igneo pant is also available. Both come in men's and women's styles with retail prices of $275 for the jacket and $165 for the pants. www.outdoorresearch.com

Right off the bat, the folks at Patagonia told us that its big story for winter was insulation, introducing 27 new and redesigned synthetic and down high-loft pieces. Synthetic offerings are lighter, warmer and more compressible with the addition of Primaloft One and Primaloft Eco. The credos for the line are versatility, functionality and recyclability. Using 60-gram Primaloft One insulation, the new Nano Puff Pullover (MSRP $150) is the lightest high-loft synthetic product the company has ever produced -- 8 ounces for the women's and 9 ounces for the men's. Switching gears, the Fitz Roy Down hoody (MSRP $250) is the warmest offering with baffled construction that allows for optimal lofting of the 800-fill down. It has a low-bulk draft tube and a close fit to retain warmth in all mountain applications. On the ski side, the fully featured Reconnaissance Jacket (MSRP $375 -- photo to right) provides soft shell performance with 100-gram Primaloft Eco insulation with decidedly retro color blocking. www.patagonia.com

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Building on its successful Microlight jacket line, Rab is now combining waterproofing and warmth in the Microlight Alpine Event jacket (MSRP $400) via a two-layer Event shell and a 750-fill down baffling inner. The Microlight Alpine, made with a Pertex Microlight outer shell and 750-fill goose down, is now available in a women's version (MSRP $215). www.rab.uk.com

Sierra Designs told SNEWS that more green fabrications are making their way into the apparel line, including the BTU and Flex Down insulated jackets. The BTU jacket (MSRP $299) with 800-series goose down has a Drizone Green shell made of 100-percent recycled polyester and PVC-free seam tape. Trim fitting, its diamond quilt pattern keeps insulation from migrating and allows the exterior shell to remain smooth to shed water and eliminate cold spots. Insulated with 750-weight goose down, the Flex jacket (MSRP $249) has a 100-percent recycled shell and uses the company's sleeping bag Flex technology, allowing the jacket to move (i.e., flex) with the user while eliminating heat-robbing dead air space.Both jackets come in men's and women's versions. www.sierradesigns.com

On the lighter side is The North Face's Animagi jacket -- an insulated piece for aerobic activities. It has a hybrid construction with ultralight recycled insulation and stretch knit panels on the torso and sleeves. Weighing in at about 11 ounces, it can be worn as a mid-layer or solo (MSRP $149). www.thenorthface.com

The minimalist-looking Chimera IS jacket (MSRP $549) from Westcomb has a Primaloft insulation inner encased in an Event hard shell. Rather than being quilted into place like most insulated jackets, the Primaloft is laminated into place to give the jacket more mobility and up the thermal performance. The hood rolls into a baffled internal compartment in the collar, and is helmet compatible. The jacket also has internal storm cuffs with thumb loops, velour chin guard and internal media pocket. www.westcomb.com

--Wendy Geister

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