Alpha is causing a stir already, at a development level its far more potent than most other pre-release buzzes. why? because Alpha is a new genre of applied textiles. to view it as just another insulation is to miss most of what it has to offer.

polartec alpha teton mountain project japan

we are treating Alpha very differently to other synthetic insulations. not only is there more freedom with how it can be used, but because those freedoms are addressing factors that change things across the board.

user feedback is showing the degree to which climbers are open to innovation, what they pick up on and how they respond to the systemizing of equipment, and from this we can build designs for different types of users, applying elements like Alpha, Shield DV and Neoshell where they fit best.

what really matters with alpha is its system-integrity capacity. that its been specifically designed to work with the Polartec pantheon is a jump so advanced within the industry its almost unequalled (tho Primaloft is advancing too with woven fabrics coming out soon. stay tuned for that). the combinations and applications for Alpha + the layers that house it are so expansive – not to mention the construction techniques that further affect the function – there are years of experimentation ahead.

its entirely possible to have a low-volume wicking layer as the inner side, with anything from a windproof to another insulation as the outer side – Alpha is that contiguous.

its breathability is a huge thing and alone sets it apart: Alpha is more space than it is matter, but its structure suffers little in breathability when wet, which is only heightened in light of the fabrics than can be used around it. whilst not useful as a standalone weather resistant layer, alphas ability to release moisture from the inside is unparalleled amongst most woven textiles, certainly amongst insulations. its ability stabilize complex micro-climates, acting as a layer in itself and as a transition between other layers is extraordinary.

system elements: recent trials have centered on the combined function of Alpha, Pertex DV, Powerdry Cocona, versions of Neoshell and Powerstretch

no other insulation really stretches. they all distort in multiple directions, but only alpha has the range of elongation to seriously work within stretch fabrics without tearing. the main factor here is that alpha is a 3d knitted textile – meaning it doesn’t need traditional baffles to keep it in place, which has been a major limitation with stretch insulation garments before.

polartec alpha structure

Alpha unmasked: the unusual knit+cluster structure of Alpha (note this is a double layer)

stretch is a primary element to systemizing as it allows to retain contiguous qualities, simplifying both function and construction, resulting in systems less affected by minor factors compounding into major ones

putting Alpha into a system resets much of what a system can achieve – it’s a true ‘back to the drawing board’ element that alters the functions of everything around it – a big statement and one not used lightly. to delve into Alphas potential is to reassess the ways other textiles work. to use Alpha simply within a system made of standard existing textiles is to see it at its most limited potential – the real expanse of Alphas comes only when integrated with other cutting edge textiles.

interfaced with non-specific fabrics Alpha will of course work well, but only when combined with the fabrics it was developed in parallel with will its true properties be fully felt

reproduction without permission and acknowledgement is plagarism. write your own stuff. iceclimbingjapan2012