While consumer-facing brands steal the spotlight at trade shows, SGB dug behind the scenes to investigate key new technologies from ingredient brands that bring the glitz and glamour of design and performance to life.
Allied Feather & Down
Allied Feather & Down, the outdoor industry’s leading provider of fill for bags, jackets and more, has a long tradition of pioneering work in sustainability, animal welfare and transparency, and their newest product initiative is yet another example. Following an industry trend toward reducing the use of fluorocarbons, Allied is now offering HyperDRY ECO – its new fluorocarbon-free, water-resistant down – to a few select brands, including the entire line of Montane’s 2016 waterproof down jackets and bags. Executives at Allied are currently working on a plan to make 100-percent of their waterproof down FC-free in coming years.
“We’re proud that sustainability has always been critical to the Allied family. We worked closely with The North Face to develop the Responsible Down Standard, and followed that up with our rapidly growing Track My Down program,” said AFD’s President Daniel Uretsky. “Fluorocarbon Free HyperDRY is the next step in this process, and one we think will help the entire industry move toward eliminating fluorocarbons from the entire supply chain.”
For the immediate future, however, HyperDRY ECO will be officially introduced at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. With substantial interest from many other Allied partner brands, the demand for FC-free is clearly there, and ECO will help the brand transition into its new protocol.
“We worked directly with all Bluesign-approved chemical suppliers to develop fluorocarbon free durable water resistant treatments and techniques,” said Uretsky. “Plus our unique application techniques mean that no chemicals enter our water supply, allowing us to continue to recycle water in our processing methods without contamination. Furthermore, ECO has proven to be as good and even exceed current C6 treatments.”
W.L. Gore & Associates launches a bevy of new products and a rebranding of sorts that will take the company away from exclusively 100-percent waterproof/breathable ingredient products. First up is a makeover of its Gore-Tex Active three-layer, waterproof/breathable technology, now featuring a “permanent beading surface.”
The tech puts the membrane on the outside, eliminating the need for a face fabric, significantly lightening the product and preventing wet outs of the exterior surface. Gore sees the product doing well for street, trail and mountain running, and road cycling. It is rolling out first in just three brands: Castelli, Arc’teryx and The North Face; as well as in Gore Bike and Gore Running Wear.
No face fabric also means no DWR. An expansion for Gore into new, “water-resistant” categories is intended to address gaps between hard and soft shell protection, plus add insulation, company officials said. The new technology is part of a broader strategy of future innovations under an updated “Gore Branded Products” nomenclature and branding to represent its non-Gore-Tex products. The “Gore-Tex” ingredient mark stays the same and will continue to represent guaranteed waterproof/breathable protection, including the Gore-Tex Active, Gore-Tex, and Gore-Tex Pro designations, as well as the new Gore-Tex C-Knit construction available this fall in jackets from more than a dozen brands. New products include a first-ever two-layer membrane designed to be used with insulation (ie. puffy jackets), introduced as Gore Thermium.
This new spin on an ePTFE shell construction promises to be windproof, water-resistant and breathable – but not waterproof. The laminate will need to be seam sealed and coupled with a partner brand’s insulation of choice sandwiched with an inner lining. A new Gore Windstopper fabric is being described in two primary categories – products with Light Rain Resistance and products with Insulation Protection – while conglomerating technologies previously called Active Shell, Soft Shell and Technical Fleece. Lastly is the new Light Rain Resistance technology, meant to protect from drizzle and extend the usability of a soft shell. The new Insulation Protection will be used in jackets designed for high-intensity output in cold climates, keeping wind at bay while letting sweat out.
Environmental concerns have most of the outdoor industry moving away from previous DWR chemistries, being replaced by a new crop of non-fluorinated fabric treatments. Teflon brings its new EcoElite finish, which is manufactured with 63 percent plant-based raw materials. Teflon claims the treatment is three-times more durable than existing non-fluorinated repellants and maintains breathability. It’s compatible with common finishing auxiliaries, including resins and cross-linking agents and it’s not made with genetically modified organisms and not made with alkyl phenol ethoxylates.
PrimaLoft, Inc., one of the biggest players in high-performance insulations and fabrics, will expand its active-insulation platform with the launch of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Active – providing breathable four-way stretch performance and warmth designed for high-output adventures. Its construction enables excess heat and moisture to escape.
A proprietary finish and manufacturing process locks tiny PrimaLoft fibers in place, preventing them from migrating through fabrics, allowing for use with more breathable, open weave, and stretch materials. It’s designed to be worn all year, potentially eliminating the need for putting on and taking off layers during high-output outdoor activities.
Additionally, product designers may now use a wider variety of stretch shell, breathable outer, and liner fabrics, resulting in more year-round versatile choices for manufacturers to bring to market. It is Bluesign approved.
Spain-based outdoor technical apparel brand Ternua is looking to distinguish itself in North America with its recycled down insulation – salvaged from older down products – and now also available in a water-repellant version. “Ternua has always had a strong sustainable philosophy, so consumers can feel good about purchasing a high performance down products that not only have the latest technology, but also makes very little impact on the environment,” said Bruce Barrows, vice president of sales and marketing in North America for Ternua. Ternua’s recycled down, which it calls Neokdun, comes from down products that have reached the end of their own product life cycle. The down is collected, sanitized and then treated with Nikwax’s PFC-free DWR finish to add water repellent protection. Ternua will be offering recycled hydrophobic down a variety of down-insulated outerwear for 2016, including the Ladakh 300, Ladakh 160 and the Quantum. The brand Nau is also introducing a line of recycled down products.
The ingredient brand best known for providing an extremely lightweight exterior for down jackets is beefing up its recipe for the fabric with the debut of what it’s calling CS10 technology. The new tech, to be featured in Fall/Winter 2016/17 pieces by Berghaus, Montane, Mammut, Peak Performance and Salewa, utilizes yarns with diamond-shaped filaments, which lock together better than traditional circular-filament yarns to provide a highly stable construction. “These tightly interlocking filaments give the fabrics superb abrasion resistance along with improved water-beading properties,” company officials said. “And while highly durable, these fabrics are exceptionally soft to the touch, extremely downproof, and lend a beautiful sheen.”
Downlite, a responsibly-sourced down and feather processor (RDS and 100-percent TDS certified) partners with Patagonia, The North Face, Lululemon, Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Montbell, Ralph Lauren among others. Downlite will present its Evolution of Down theme and share more information about its product offering to include Active-Dri Down, fluorocarbon-free Nikwax Hydrophobic Down and PUR Down. Noble Biomaterials|X-STATICNoble Biomaterials, maker of X-STATIC odor-eliminating, silver fiber technology featured in Lululemon, Giro, Bell, Fox River and SunIce, among other products, will highlight its XT2 and CircuiteX innovations. XT2 offers all-day, odor-free technology for the life of a garment and can also be dyed for design flexibility.
CircuiteX enables electronics integration and protection in wearable technology garments.
Since 1826, Pittards has provided the leather for gloves for yacht racers, Spitfire pilots and football players, but continues being pulled toward wintersport products.
Featured in 2016 gloves like the Pow Alpha GTX and Outdoor Research Product Gloves, Pittards uses Cabretta or “hairsheep” skins that pack finer hair follicles and high tensile strength – perfect for quality glove making.
Today, the company has more than a dozen performance leathers, each with unique polymer properties and treatments depending on desire for more water-repellency, warmth, stain resistance, grip and even fire retardancy. Although Pittards retails its own bags, gloves and apparel, its leather is stitched into offerings from Berghaus, Jaguar, Hi-Tec, Franklin and Skora, to name a few.