the game never ends with polartec, it never even slows. and tho the focus usually goes to Neoshell and now Alpha, development of next-to-skin fabrics is just as dramatic.

in direct relation to their other new fabrics Polartec has gone to town with Powerdry next-to-skin fabrics to set the best possible foundation for what goes over them. doing the smart thing, they saw the way technology and demand was under represented in the field, and put energy into developing the upper end of the baselayer spectrum. these are textiles specifically for working with Alpha and the Neoshell variants, with the principles of systemization at the fore, and part of this has been the concept of the ‘1.5 layer’.

1.5 is not new as an idea, but until now its not been specifically developed or put into a smart system. several companies have done much to develop ranges of baselayer fabrics, midlayers, shells etc, but the idea of linking them as a series of transitional zones has until now been fairly unsophisticated, with big pieces of the equation unresolved as essentially developing from garment-level is to have missed the boat – these things need to start at fabric structure-level to work optimally.

1.5 is the concept of transitioning heat and moisture across as much of a spectrum as possible in a single layer, thereby reducing the number of layers needed and maximizing the effect adjusting a single layer has. this can be a disaster when applied incorrectly and as a gimmick – or profound when done right from the ground up.

high efficiency power dry teton project

teton project iceclimbingjapan power dry high efficiency

two of the Power Dry High Efficiency fabrics being played with in the TMP system: note how low-density both fabrics are

its easy to think its all just about the grid structure on the inner surface (something that’s been about for several years), but where it really matters is the outer surface, and how moisture efficient its become along with the ability for the fabric to stabilize the zone between the two.

previous grid versions required more textile to wick, creating a larger moisture trap within the structure. the latest versions do this significantly more efficiently, both increasing the transpiration effect and increasing the insulating properties. where before it took a dedicated wicking layer and a specific stabilizing layer, now a lot of that can be achieved in a single layer, making it ideal for activities in the cold where stability of the n2s micro-zone is a priority (as opposed to activities in the warmth where only wicking or only insulation takes precedence).

power dry new and old grid

new grid pattern (L) next to a previous generation (R): greater wicking structure, lower density, 30% lighter

previous 2 layer versions were subject to too much instability with the fluid air space between layers, taking more time to stabilize as they either dumped heat or secured it – something that lead to excess moisture becoming trapped in the system as it lagged and cooled – High Efficiancy minimizes that.

as a 1.5 this stuff is super-efficient under a windshell, dumping heat rapidly when vented, retaining it efficiently when sealed up. as is the key with insulation, it’s the lack of anything there that gives its efficiency, but where this diverges from insulation is that the primary objective is to wick moisture away.

unsurprisingly when looked at from a large perspective, these fabrics work just as well in the heat, something integral to the TMP system spec that states the system must work from the 40c valley floor approach to the 7000m/-35c high point. with the baselayers being both the interface and the hardest garments to remove and put on, we have invested heavily in making them the best platform for what goes on top.