Technically Speaking


Apparel brands are going all out in 2020. From sustainability stories to attempts at building the perfect breathable performance piece for the backcountry to designs ideated with travel and packability top-of-mind, outerwear pieces for Fall 2020 will blow your mind. Here are some of the top stories catching our eye.

Design Intention…

The tech story in Royal Robbins’ Fall 2020 Switchform outerwear collection focuses on not just its materials, but also on its design intention. The line is designed to appeal to the active traveler with versatile, high quality garments. Most notably, each jacket in the line transitions into another item that offers storage for other winter accessories without sacrificing style and quality.

For example, the $225 men’s Switchform Waterproof Parka flips into itself to become a backpack with adjustable straps (that can hold a water bottle, scarf, gloves, etc). This waterproof, windproof, breathable, seam-taped jacket is made using C0 Ec0-DWR, an environmentally-friendly alternative that eliminates the dispersal of fluorocarbons in the environment. Additionally, Royal Robbins uses a non-silver based odor control treatment to lessen the harmful impact to beneficial bacteria in the ecosystem.

Construction is the story in Mammut’s Eigerjoch Pro IN Hooded Jacket, which is an insulated garment built for performance. It has a double-chamber construction that adapts different zones of the jacket to specific requirements of the body. PrimaLoft is used for areas exposed to moisture as well as for the inside of the jacket, while the remaining zones feature down filling. The insulated jacket comes with an additional stow bag with two carabineer loops. It features lightweight Pertex Quantum Pro material with ultra-thin water-repellent coating and Diamond Fuse technology for increased weather protection and abrasion resistance.

Left: Flylow Kane Jacket, MSRP $460, Right: Mammut Eigerjoch IN Hooded Jacket, MSRP $650.
Left: Cotopaxi Aire Hybrid, MSRP $220, Right: Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie, MSRP $275.

Warmth and unique design is the key focus at Marmot. The brand describes its WarmCube technology as the most important launch in the company’s history. It is the focus of Marmot’s marketing efforts in 2020 and beyond. The eye-catching WarmCube insulation works two ways to keep wearers warm. 3D cubes keep insulation in place, preventing migration and eliminating cold spots, according to the brand. Additionally, the channels between the cubes fill with warm air to build a second source of insulation.

Flylow’s men’s Kane jacket, $460, is ultra-breathable while still maintaining a 20k waterproof rating. It is made for the backcountry, where lightweight, comfortable and streamlined outerwear is a must. Flylow decided to ditch the powder skirt and designed the pockets to work best with a backpack and integrate the soft-touch air-permeable Perm fabric, which has 0.02 cfm air permeability, allowing air to circulate through the jacket and let heat can escape before it becomes sweat. It is Flylow’s lightest shell yet at 540 grams.

Hybrid Life…

The North Face’s Summit L5 Futurelight Ventrix Jacket blends two of the brand’s most popular technologies. There’s a breathable mid layer courtesy of 25g of Ventrix stretch synthetic insulation combined with the lightweight waterproof breathability of the Futurelight 3L shell for weather protection. The jacket is engineered to be both lightweight and versatile, and was developed to be critically taped, and not a fully taped shell. This was an intentional choice, with the goal of providing the storm protection needed, while not overbuilding the style to maintain the all-day comfortable feel of a mid layer.

The North Face design team’s goal in creating what it terms as a do-it-all layer is that it can be worn all day, preventing the need to bring multiple shells and insulating pieces.

Left: GoLite ReGreen RainDrop Jacket, MSRP $220, Right: Royal Robbins Switchform Waterproof Parka, MSRP $225.
Left: Marmot WarmCube Cortina, MSRP $600, Right: The North Face Summit L5 Futurelight Ventrix Jacket, MSRP $650.

Patagonia’s Stormstride Kit (jacket and pants) is a new hybridized backcountry touring kit that the brand says is designed for someone “as fit as a trail runner, smart and efficient as an alpine climber and as strong as a downhill skier.” Each design feature in the kit was chosen for ski touring specifically. The material is a lightweight, 3-layer 100 percent waterproof stretch fabric. The pocketing is placed for integration with an avalanche transceiver and a ski harness. The three option cuffs can be opened for walk mode with boots or cinched down to accommodate crampons. This is the most focused backcountry touring kit Patagonia has ever made.

Cotopaxi’s Aire Hybrid Jacket features PrimaLoft Active Insulation along with side panels with wicking, lightweight fleece. The shell and liner is 100 percent recycled polyester with a DWR finish.

Eco Minded…

Both technical performance and sustainability are key drivers behind the design of Picture Organic Clothing’s new Demain jacket – a protective, 3-layer shell, featuring the new Xpore nano-porous membrane and Biosourced Polyester made with 58 percent sugarcane woven with 42 percent recycled polyester stretch.

Xpore is a new membrane developed by consumer electronics giant, BenQ. It introduces a new method to create the required nano-pores that make a membrane both waterproof and breathable, implementing mechanical stretching instead of the most common method achieved with chemicals. The result is a solvent-free, PFC-free membrane that the brand says is lighter than competing laminates on the market, making it sustainable and high-performing.

GoLite remains eco focused as well heading into 2020. Ninety-four percent of the brand’s products are comprised of recycled fabrics. There is also a packaging sustainability focus: UPC stickers, poly bags, product packaging, hangtags, shipping boxes and mailers are recycled, recyclable or compostable. And the GoLite ReGreen Collection expands for Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 to include performance puffy, waterproof/breathable 3-layer and wind shell options – all made from recycled green bottle fabric.

Left: Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket, MSRP $280, Right: Picture Organic Clothing Demain Jacket, MSRP $499.99.

The $220 GoLite ReGreen RainDrop Jacket for Fall 2020 is made with a ReGreen 3-Layer and has a waterproof/breathability rating of 20K/10K. It has fully taped seams, waterproof zippers and Teflon Eco-DWR.

Fjällräven’s Expedition Collection for 2020 builds on the collection’s tradition of focusing on warmth with new lightweight and packable styles, suitable for layering under a shell during active pursuits or worn by themselves around town, offering versatile style and performance. The collection features ethically produced and traceable down fill with 100 percent recycled nylon shell materials. Fjällräven’s Expedition Pack Down Hoodie is a down layering piece that can pull double duty as an outer layer, too. It’s lightweight and can pack into its own pocket.

Rab Equipment is also committed to making more sustainable material choices and its new Microlight range using recycled materials is a prime example. The Fall 2020 Microlight Alpine Jacket is updated with recycled fabrics, recycled down, zoned micro and nano baffle stitch-through construction. This classic hooded down jacket is lightweight, packable and delivers on warmth when the temperature drops in the mountains. It is made with soft and packable Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon and has zoned lightweight micro and nano baffle stitch-through construction. The insulation is recycled 700 fill-power down with Nikwax hydrophobic (water-resistant) finish.

Patagonia Stormstride Kit,
MSRP $499 (jacket); $429 (pant).

Material Matters

With outerwear brands striving higher, textile suppliers continue to explore new and improved ways to deliver lightweight, yet highly functional fabrications for cold weather wear. Here’s some of what’s coming next from some key textile firms:

W.L. Gore is releasing a new version of Gore-Tex Pro, the first update in seven years for its flagship waterproof/breathable. Previously a single fabric technology, the new Pro is differentiated into three products: one optimized for 20 percent stretch, another for breathability, and a third for durability, allowing apparel makers to tailor the tech for specific activities. The new Gore-Tex Pro features recycled content materials and solution-dyed backers to minimize environmental impact.

Toray is unveiling new technologies that provide upgrades regarding fiber production from PET plastic bottles. One technology produces a pure white fiber, providing greater end use applications, while another new tech offers a proprietary traceability system that can identify specific contaminants in the raw materials. Toray has created a new brand called “&+” to market the development.

Pertex is taking a a strong sustainable stance with the launch of the superlight 10-denier Pertex Quantum made from 100 percent recycled nylon, and YFuse fabrics made from 100 percent recycled polyester and 100 percent recycled nylon. The company’s eco targets for 2022 include that 80 percent of fabrics produced will contain a minimum of 50 percent recycled content and 100 percent of fabrics produced will use non-fluorinated DWR finishes.

Cordura will be highlighting award winning knits, new brand activations and a re-position for the consumer market. On display at the OR + Snow Show, will be the ISPO Textrend award winning Cordura 4Ever collection of softened strength knits and Performance Natural wovens that include 2 and 4-way stretch Cordura denims, and performance Cordura Combat Wool.

Schoeller has a new aerobrane e-spinning membrane technology, the PROEARTH collection of biodegradable textiles, and wool updates, including recycled wool and wool blends with performance tech. In development for four years the aerobrane membrane’s unique structure consists of an ultra-fine, hydrophilic polyurethane fiber composite that differs from other film-based membranes and offers a softer feel and beautiful, fluid textile characteristics. Aerobrane features in Outlier’s Experiment 200 “Ecstasy in the Rain” jacket launched in December.

Unifi will showcase its sustainable and technical developments at the OR + Snow Show, as well as an evolution in activewear knits and program initiatives. New is availability of Repreve cationic qualities in response to demand for performance heathers but with recycled polyester. The company is also spotlighting the Repreve Our Oceans, a global initiative that works to prevent bottles from entering the waterways via programs in coastal areas of development regions.

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