If Conrad Anker were the CEO of some well-known social-networking site, this is the kind of hoodie that he’d be seen sporting. In short, it does the business when conditions are at their worst, including during several frigid nighttime rides and downpours this winter. The jacket employs Schoeller’s sophisticated Nanosphere technology to offer reliable water- and abrasion-resistance (a claim to which we can attest, with the caveat that water beads up and has habit of dripping off onto other more casual, non-water-resistant apparel like shoes and jeans!). Compared to other burlier winter coats, the Stealth Hoodie almost feels a little flimsy, but this is an illusion. Triple Aught’s “c_change” membrane provides wind- and waterproofing, while offering breathability when things get more aerobic than running from a little rain; the non-fussy nylon exterior protects against abrasion without making you look like Robocop. By itself, it’s not the warmest of pieces, but layer up and you’ll be snug. Overall, as Mark Zuckerberg might say, “Like!”.
Editor’s Note: We also reviewed an earlier model of the Slealth Hoddie LT; the new one boasts additional features (like the use of Nanosphere)…and a higher price.
Of the three big pushes coming from The North Face in the fall of 2013, we’re perhaps most excited about the brand’s new insulation innovations. ThermoBall ain’t the sequel to Skyfall; It’s a synthetic insulation made in concert with Primaloft, providing spherical patches of insulation designed to mimic the structure of down, trapping heat within small air pockets. This also makes it highly packable, and will insulate even when wet. The insulation on the ThermoBall Full-Zip Jacket ($199, pictured) is equivalent to that of a 600-fill down jacket of similar weight. ProDown—TNF’s proprietary water-resistant down—will also be introduced this fall, boasting products that will stay dry and full of loft for up to 100 minutes, and will be found in such products as the 950-fill Supernatural Jacket ($449). They’ll also introduce the new ZLoft tech, which uses Primaloft One synthetic insulation with a Z-baffle shape that maximizes warmth without adding much weight or bulk in hybrid, high-performance pieces like the Zephyrus Pro Hoodie ($299).
Another big initiative in 2013? Apparel and footwear for cold-weather running, including products that’ll make use of Gore Windstopper and proprietary tech like FlashDry and Thermo3D designs to create high-performance, gender-specific temp regulation for long-distance cold-weather runners. Products like the Feather Lite Storm Blocker Jacket ($200)—the lightest fully-waterproof, seam-sealed jacket they’ve made at just 10.5 ounces—were tested by TNF athletes on the trails of Mont Blanc, so they’ll work for you just fine.
They’ll also fill out a new line for the niche outdoor scene that prides themselves on braving the harshest cold-weather environments. The new Steep Series was tested by TNF athletes in the harsh world of Antarctica, and the 19 pieces in this new line will bring forth hardcore products with tech like the new Gore-Tex Pro waterproof/breathable fabric, water-resistant down, and other features that’ll keep you sheltered from the extremes.
www.arcteryx.com, one pound, six ounces
Arc‘Teryx and Gore just upped the ante with the new Caden Jacket, whichCaden incorporates new N80pX Gore-Tex Pro Shell, a more breathable version of their standard-setting benchmark fabric. The Caden’s articulated pattern mimics the posture of the ski and snowboard athlete, with a design that moves fluidly for big mountain skiing and riding. The new micro-seam technology increases breathability and reduces overall garment weight. A waterproof front zipper helps keep rain and snow at bay, plus it’s easy to use with gloved fingers. Our tester loved the hood that fits easily over standard ski and climbing helmets. The hood rotates with your head, with no blocking of peripheral vision or that suffocating feeling when its zipped up. The first-rate feature set is rounded out with zippered hand pockets, internal mesh pockets roomy enough for gloves or a waterbottle, and a discreet powder skirt that kept us dry in the deep.
We’ve been testing Gore Running apparel for the past six months. While the brand is a top-seller in the category in Europe, it has only recently been distributed in the United States. For Fall ’13, we are excited about their new Magnitude Outfit Systems for men (the Comp Shirt and Tights are pictured above). The performance line is designed for the long-distance runner. The tights have enough compression to shape and support the quads and calves, without restricting movement. We like the new vest and jacket with Windstopper laminate for cold-weather training, as well as the reflective and neon detailing for heightened visibility after dark, great ventilation, and smartly-positioned pockets.
Gore Tex’s most waterproof membrane, Pro Shell, got a significant upgrade this year. The 2.5- and 3- layer membrane has always been on top of the waterproof category, but breathability was an issue. The new Pro Shell is a rumored 28 percent more breathable than the original, putting its sweat management properties up with the best in the industry. The 100 percent ePTFE-based microstructure is bonded to the outer material, with a specially developed lining completing the system. To increase durability, Gore added a new patent-pending Micro Grid Backer technology for internal abrasion and snag resistance. We tested a new Arc ‘Teryx Pro Shell jacket for Fall ’13 on an Interconnect ski from Solitude to Alta to Brighten and back. This tester’s pants were last year’s Pro Shell, the jacket was the new stuff. The Interconnect is lots of steep skinning, followed by great backcountry ridges and bowls. The new material really does breathe well. We’ll report on ongoing tests later this spring, with special focus on not only breathability, but waterproofness as well. Expect to see this new tech in a handful of outdoor brands like The North Face, Arc’Teryx, Outdoor Research, Marmot, and Mammut.