Performance enhancements: Cooling polymers, natural fabrics and integrated kits move up in technical apparel

Check out the top new apparel products and trends for 2013 that we encountered at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. 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.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:


If this year’s weather patterns taught manufacturers and retailers anything, it’s the importance of offering a well-balanced product line across the seasons.

While winter was a bust for many, those prepared for the scorching summer with lightweight and cooling technical apparel cashed in.

Columbia Sportswear and sister brand Mountain Hardwear hope the heat lasts at least one more summer for their new Omni-Freeze Zero and Cool.Q Zero technology. Moving beyond cooling chemical applications of the past few years, the innovation involves a hydrophobic polymer printed on the inner lines of apparel, accessories and footwear. When dampened by sweat, the polymer spurs a mechanical reaction, drawing heat from the body to expel the moisture. It not only expels moisture, but also enhances the cooling effect, officials claim. Look for the little blue zeros on products such as the Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Tank (MSRP $58), Short Sleeve T (MSRP $65) and Chiller Long Sleeve Shirt (MSRP $100), and the Columbia Freeze Degree Short Sleeve (MSRP $60) and Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip (MSRP $70, photo, right).

Minimalist alpine clothing systems gain ground with Sierra Designs’ new Cloud Layering System, designed for versatility and easy stowage. Along with a full-featured rain shell, wind shell and 800-fil DriDown puffy, the 26-ounce system includes a Cloud Pant (MSRP $75) made with Sierra Designs new two-layer waterproof/breathable Illusion membrane behind a durable nylon tricot skin. The North Face sought feedback from in-house mountaineers and big-wall climbers to design the new Verto Climb Kit, the latest addition to the Summit Series. “We designed each component for a specific expedition or problem to be solved,” said Lindsey Sine, public relations coordinator for TNF. All four pieces combined weigh less than 32 ounces and include a 100 percent Merino wool T-shirt (MSRP $80), the Verto Micro hoodie (MSRP $249, photo, left), that squeezes 800-fill body insulation inside a double-weave and sealable hood, fabric, the Verto Pro jacket (MSRP $199) and a soft shell pant (MSRP $130) that features four-way stretch nylon with Elastane, and an off-set, harness-compatible closure. And since dedicated alpinists chase winter conditions on high peaks all year round, Patagonia decided to release updated designs of the mountaineering DAS Parka (MSRP $299) and Pants (MSRP $199) at Summer Market. The pants are insulated with 100-gram Primaloft One for cold bivies and a full-zip when it’s time to vent.

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While Rab’s Maverick pants (MSRP $180, photo, right) aren’t part of an alpine apparel kit, they are made with eVent’s new DVL waterproof/breathable membrane, which Rab also embedded in its new Viper hard shell (MSRP $260). The two-layer DVL membrane is light enough to keep the pants sub-10 oz., while its 40-denier fabric and articulated knees can handle most alpine terrain.

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Cropping up at Summer Market this year are performance shirts and pants made entirely from natural fibers, or woven together with recycled synthetics, which combine the strengths of each fabric to generate a noticeable boost in on-trail performance.

For 2013, Gramicci is expanding its three-year-old Natural Performance Technology (NPT) product line by 160 percent. Made from hemp and certified organic cotton sourced from China, these fabrics provide odor-fighting and antimicrobial properties without chemicals or treatments. Hiking-specific styles for men include the McKay Crew (MSRP $48) and Chadwick Sleeveless (MSRP $38). The women’s line includes the Moroccan Sofi (MSRP $45), a racer-back tank top with built-in bra, and the Logo Galena Long-Sleeve Tee (MSRP $48). These new styles feature engineered flat seams and 3 percent spandex to improve fit, plus a more porous weave to boost breathability.

New Cocona products from La Sportiva include the men’s Peak T-shirt (MSRP $50) and the women’s Flight tank (MSRP $45). Both tops offer UV 50 protection and the coconut fiber-based fabric’s moisture- wicking and anti-stink properties. Icebreaker’s new GT technical sports collection combines merino wool with spandex in multiple styles designed for both indoor and outdoor aerobic activities. For men, the Sonic series features tank (MSRP $70, photo, left), short- and long-sleeve crews (MSRP $80-90) and long-sleeve half-zip (MSRP $100) options. The Flash series for women offers similar cuts, including a long-sleeve half-zip (MSRP $100). All of Icebreaker’s new GT products include a front-and-bank mesh weave for enhanced ventilation and reversed seams to prevent chaffing.

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Blending recycled polyester with organic cotton and Tencel gives Nau’s new Ayre T-shirt (MSRP $55, photo, right) on-trail performance results without the shimmery, synthetic appearance. Meanwhile, Isis, now based in Boulder, Colo. as part of American Rec, is highlighting an urban/outdoor crossover belted trench coat (MSRP $189). Made with waterproof/breathable Cocona fabric, the jacket also sports a black matte finish, a removable hood and storm flap for the zipper “Adaptability is our focus for Spring ’13,” said Kelly Gorder, vice president at Isis. “The belted trench will keep a woman safe and dry in the elements, and it’s going to fit and be much more flattering than a big rain jacket.”

--Jason Stevenson

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