Trek & Mountain has just returned from the massive ISPO outdoor gear show in Munich, and over the next few days we’ll be bringing you our pick of the best new products launched there. First up, insulation pieces…
Insulated shells, hybrid technologies, waterproof membranes, recycled materials – the world of insulation technology is a fascinating and ever-changing beast. Discovering all the latest developments in insulation innovation is one of the most exciting aspects of ISPO for mountain-loving gear geeks such as ourselves. Below are some of the key highlights from this year’s show:
1. ARC’TERYX ALPHA IS
The new Alpha IS is a minimalist, lightweight fully weatherproof insulation layer targeted towards alpinists and ice climbers. By combining a hardshell and midlayer into one single high performance jacket, the Alpha IS has been designed to enable winter mountaineers to move faster in the mountains and reach remote winter objectives. Weighing 18% less than two separate jackets, the Alpha IS combines highly hydrophobic ThermaTek and Coreloft Continuous insulations with a GORE-TEX 2-Layer exterior.
2. RAB VALIANCE JACKET
The new Valiance blends the very best of down and synthetic insulation into one, fully waterproof winter jacket. The bonded narrow box-wall construction jacket uses 170g of 800 fill-power RDS certified European goose, Nikwax hydrophobic down to deliver optimal warmth and weather protection. Synthetic insulation comes into play in the areas that need it most – ie the hood and cuffs – delivering maximum protection in the parts of the jacket that can get pretty wet. An ideal belay jacket for tough winter conditions.
3. THE NORTH FACE VENTRIX
One of the biggest stories of the show was the brand new VENTRIX insulation from The North Face – a world-first innovation. The breathable synthetic insulation regulates body temperature via ventilation laser-cut holes that are ‘body-mapped into high-perspiration areas’. Basically these holes remain closed when you’re standing still but open when you start to move. By reducing the need for constant layer shuffling, this dynamic insulation technology is designed to help you move faster and more efficiently in the mountains.
4. COLUMBIA OUTDRY EXTREME ECO DOWN JACKET
The name may be complicated but the concept is straightforward –this is a sustainable waterproof breathable down jacket. Made entirely from dye-free fabric, recycled materials and with no PFC’s intentionally used in the product, the all-white OutDry Extreme Eco Down jacket is not only distinctive, it’s good for the planet. Plus it’s a seriously technical bit of kit. The 700-fill power RDS certified goose down and heat seal thermal bonding deliver maximum warmth and with Columbia’s pioneering membrane-on-the-outside technology, the jacket is both breathable and waterproof. Impressive.
5. PATAGONIA HYPER PUFF
In the words of Patagonia, the brand new Hyper Puff Collection is “the warmest synthetic collection we’ve ever built”. Designed to deliver maximum warmth in freezing wet conditions, the collection features HyperDAS insulation technology which traps heat in the dead-air-space created by its high-loft construction. This enables the jacket to pack down small but then spring back to shape and full loft with a single shake, even when wet. Available in a Hoody, Jacket and Parka for AW 17/18.
6. MONTANE – PRIMALOFT THERMOPLUME AND QUATTRO FUSION
Not one but two big insulation stories from Montane at this year’s ISPO. First up, the new Men’s Icarus and Women’s Phoenix Jackets featuring the latest innovation in synthetic down – PrimaLoft ThermoPlume. Designed to perform and look like natural down, ThermoPlume offers an ethical and water resistant alternative to down with all the loft ability, wet weather protection and packability of synthetic insulation. RRP £140.
Next up – the new Quattro Fusion jacket, a super technical lightweight insulation piece designed for dynamic activities like alpine climbing, mountaineering and ski touring. Developed using thermal imaging data stemming from research undertaken with Montane climber and mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick in Northumbria University’s Environmental Chamber. Montane tested body temperature in a range of simulated cold and wet conditions in both active and static situations, using the results to create the jacket’s hybrid fabric construction and body-mapped design. RRP £225.
REPORT BY SOPHIE NICHOLSON