There’s been a lot of talk lately about nanospun materials being used for producing outdoor gear that’s waterproof yet highly breathable, especially with The North Face recently releasing its Futurelight range of outerwear. What’s less well-known is that Outdoor Research has now been using electropsun and nanospun materials for five years. In 2014, Youngone Corporation— one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fabric, materials, and clothing for athletic and outdoor use; many outdoor companies use Youngone to manufacture their goods for them—acquired Outdoor Research. This in turn allowed OR to leverage Youngone’s proprietary technologies, and five years ago OR began using electrospun fabrics in its AscentShell technology.
Essentially, the process involves affixing charged polymers to a grounded surface, which are then gathered into a waterproof but breathable membrane, a membrane that’s both soft to touch and is stretchy. But not only is mechanical stretch an important difference between nano- spun membranes and traditional waterproof/ breathable membranes, so too is air permeability. Air permeability and breathability are actually different concepts. With the latter, it usually takes heat and sweat build-up to drive moisture through the membrane. Air-permeable membranes, like AscentShell, however, allow airflow to move moisture before you become sweaty.
If AscentShell has been around since 2016, what’s newsworthy about it? Well, two things. Firstly, most people aren’t even aware OR has been using the technology. Secondly, OR’s new Microgravity Jacket has just hit stores Down Under. The jackets are built for wet, windy, brutal high-alpine conditions, perfect for our upcoming winter. But despite their stretch and their burliness—they have a ripstop nylon face that backpacks or ropes or harnesses won’t wear down—they’re light, too. A large-sized Microgravity jacket weighs just 414g. As for a few other notable features, the jackets have a trim fit, AquaGuard zippers, a front stormflap, and a helmet-compatible hood with Hood Lock. It’s a feature set that almost makes you want crappy weather. Bring on winter!
More info: outdoorresearch.com.au