The idea behind this test was that body temp will dry the fabric out eventually. Oh, and they tended to be both bulky and pig ugly too.
These attributes do not often piggyback each other — warm jackets are usually clammy, and breathable jackets offer little warmth.
We agree with the hype — the airy insulation keeps body heat in check while also letting moisture escape when you sweat. Nearing the summit on test day. Alpha insulation is described by Polartec as an open-knit, high-loft fleece.
Its main competition is goose down and other synthetic insulation like PrimaLoft. But Alpha is like an airy fleece, not a loose insulation fill. This means puffy jackets often use dense materials to encapsulate the insulation, creating jackets that may not let sweat and body-heat moisture easily escape. Polartec first made Alpha for the military. The story goes, soldiers were ordered into a river for five minutes to soak.
The idea behind this test was that body temp will dry the fabric out eventually. Polartec Alpha not only passed the test and beat the competition, it was reported to be one of the best Special Forces products ever tested, Cohne said. I stayed warm even when wet. Tall peaks in the distance, heading home.
GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Winter Ski, snowboard, ice climb, snowshoeing October 11, Wolf Creek for the Win! September 20, All Aboard! As soon as you move, you take it off because, well, it's no longer comfortable. It's too warm and too sweaty. Alpha is the opposite of that, it's stuff you throw on to keep you warm while you're moving.
But what's even better, is that within reason, it still keeps you comfortable and warm when you stop. It's kind of like traditional insulation but backwards. What makes Polartec Alpha different is that not only is it warm, trapping air heated by your body in cold conditions and holding it there so you lose minimal heat, it's designed specifically to keep you warm and dry rather than warm and damp.
Which means that both on the move and when you stop, you simply feel drier, warmer and more comfortable. Less of that clammy chill that we're all familiar with.
That matters for several reasons. One is that dry air is a better insulator than moist air. Damp air and damp fabrics simply lose heat to the outside world faster than dry air and dry fabrics. The other is that as you move, your body churns out a moist, sweaty fug. With conventional insulation, two layers of windproof fabric trap that damp air and hold it near to your body.
The result is that you chill down fast as soon as you stop moving and your body generates less heat. Alpha, in our experience, doesn't do that. Because it dries faster and handles moisture better, you and your baselayers stay drier.
Less of that clammy chilly, shivery feeling that sadly we're all familiar with. Haha, that's a military secret and we can't tell you. If we did we'd have to kill you. Er, just joking, though in fact Alpha was developed in conjunction with US special forces, who wanted - as you've probably worked out by now - an insulation that was comfortable on the move and when they stopped and then when they started moving again.
In the beginning, Alpha came as a sandwich with an inner and outer fabric, but the new Alpha Direct version does away with the inner fabric and, at the same time, makes the whole technology easier to understand. In a lot of ways, it's very similar to the old pile and Pertex combination beloved of various ancient, gnarly old climbers in the s. The principles are pretty similar: And the outer totally windproof layer wasn't very breathable, so they retained rather too much of that heat as well.
Oh, and they tended to be both bulky and pig ugly too. Alpha solves both those problems. First, the fluffy inner layer is thinner than pile, so it's not as ridiculously warm or bulky. It's also technically more advanced and lighter. The result is a system that warm, but not too warm when you're on the move, so there's no build up of moist, damp fug inside.
And, because it's drier, it still keeps you warm when you do stop for a break to eat. Or to construct an elaborate belay. Or just so you can sit for ten minutes and gawp at the view, like this So what does that mean in the real outdoors?
We found it works a bit like this: The fluffy liner feels, warm, furry and slightly luxurious. Great in the pre-dawn chill. As you start to warm up, you still feel comfortable. Your brow is moist. But Alpha works well enough that you never get that horrible, hot, damp, build-up of steam inside your jacket.
Polartec® Alpha® was originally developed for the U.S. Special Forces when they required a more advanced insulating material in their combat uniforms. This fabric is a new technology with active insulation that regulates core body temperatures during both dynamic and static activities. Polartec Alpha insulation stays dry and Mountain Khakis Men's Alpha Switch Jacket. by Mountain Khakis. $ - $ $ $ 95 Prime. FREE Shipping on eligible orders. Some sizes/colors are Prime eligible. 5 out of 5 stars 1. Outdoor Research Men's Ascendant Hoody. by . Polartec® Alpha® is a new concept in synthetic insulation focused on unsurpassed thermo-regulation. Unlike conventional synthetic insulations Polartec®Alpha® is a knit material that offers excellent stability and superior durability without the need for scrims or tightly woven fiber proof lining fabrics.
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