Annual winners of Polartec's own innovation awards announced - Rab, Mammut, Patagonia and The North Face all figure.
Every year Polartec runs something called the Apex Awards where it recognises the best use of its own fabrics and the 2012 results have just been released with separate categories for European and North American brands.
The winners are chosen, it says here, winners based on the style, function, workmanship, and fit of the garments as well as the most innovative and appropriate uses of Polartec fabrics in the designs. As gearheads, it's always interesting to see what's out there, not just from brands we know, but also from companies we're only vaguely aware of and to see which Polartec fabrics figure in the new designs which are all from the autumn 2012 season and due out later this year.
Europe Goes NeoShell Crazy
So what's new? Well, plenty of NeoShell out there with more brands using the soft shell-style, fully waterproof fabric for this autumn. One of the winners is Rab, who've followed up the current Stretch Neo jacket with the new Stretch Neo Gaiter made from a tough, stretch version of NeoShell and featuring silicone grippers on calf and inner heel areas, zipless front Velcro closure and rubberised, abrasion resistant underfoot straps.
Plenty of NeoShell clothing too. Eider lands an award for it's alpine-friendly Uphill Jacket and Downhill Pant ensemble. Both are made from two versions of lightweight NeoShell for a combination of fully waterproof protection and stretch. Karpos has produced the first NeoShell jacket with a full-on furry fleece lining, we think, and the there's the Lafuma Peak Neo Jacket which again is a stretch woven version for winter use.
Finally, we're oddly fascinated by the NFM Garm All Weather Jacket, a Norwegian creation, which is said to be a lightweight all-weather jacket designed with the Norwegian police and military in mind. It's designed to be used with body armour and also uses two lightweight Neo Shell stretch fabrics.
Last but not least, there's also the novel stuff - a Pro Skating skirt and top children's ensemble made from Power Shield Pro and the No Gravity Mammoth Plus Diving Suit which mixes NeoShell, Poer Dry and Power Stretch on the outside and inside designed for diving in extremely cold water. Brrrr....
North American Winners
There are some familiar names on the other side of the big pond too. Patagonia has landed an Apex for its Alpine Guide Jacket and Pant made from a new Polartec Power Shield Stretch Woven soft shell fabric for water repellency - should shrug off snow - and good breathability. The fabric uses Polartec's Hardface Technology, which it says here both dramaticlly improves abrasion and snag/pick resistance and improves surface water repellency at the same time.
Then there's The North Face Polar Hooded Jacket, which we've seen in the flesh and is an interesting, body-mapped hybrid soft shell which uses Power Shield High Loft fluffy fabric for the main body - claimed to be 25% lighter and also 25% warmer thanks to a new lamination technique plus there's a new version of Polartec® Thermal Pro® in the sides, underarms, and hood to maximise breathability. The end result is reckoned to be a garment which 'combines the warmth of a puffy, the moisture transport properties of fleece, and the protection of a soft shell'.
Last but not least, there's the Marmot Armageddon Glove - what a great name that is... It's a new glove that uses Polartec Thermal Pro fleece for insulation which Polartec says is far more breathable than 'classic "vapour barrier" style insulation' leading to better wicking and faster drying with durability too.
Interesting stuff. More Polartec info at www. polartec.com.