with the bosses just back from OR and Polartec HQ having delivered our data right into the main vein, the latest beta on Alpha, the Neoshells and their applications is in

polartec alpha

keep an eye out for this little tag

tested on humans

so, several months of testing across a wide range of conditions by TMP testers was presented along with many others at OR in SLC. tho much has been released to the general market, still much of Alphas applications remains in a developmental stage simply because it is so diverse – trialing and evaluating Alpha in conjunction with Polartecs entire range is a big process.

some of what has been distilled and presented is simply reaffirmation of what Polartec already knew in other sectors, now confirmed by recreational climbers. other elements across the board put Alpha and its sister textiles firmly in a league of their own.

with its origins as a Special Operations request, its not surprising the same sector would get the defining word on Alpha and the Polartec range.

in a series of blind tests that included all the major brands, Alpha and Neoshell were chosen on performance. whilst not exactly replicating the demands of alpine climbers, theres no doubt SOF demands are similar or exceeding anything 99% of climbers will ever require.

polartec cilo alpha powershield o2 system test 1/13

testing and retesting: 72hrs straight of both rigorous and static applications right at the freeze/thaw zone. incredible cold is one thing, inside a humid tent is another. both combined is what matters.

for big mountain skiing the bosses of Teton Bros, who are also sponsored DPS skiers, ran thru extensive heli-skiing testing (ie extensive fun) around Silverton in Colorado, trialing and evaluating Alpha in conjunction with Neoshell, Powershield and others in applications covering hard ascents, heli conditions and long descents. not unexpectedly – when used systematically – Alpha stood out for both its breathability whilst sweating hard then its insulation once the wind resistance picked up. most of these tests were done in temps around -25c before windchill

whats been laid down now as well tested is Alpha’s place in it all – what TMP is calling its capacity as a ‘multiplier’. for any application other than hot climate cooling, Alpha, when introduced to a system multiplies the desired effectt.

want to trap heat? Alpha either does it alone or enhances the effects of other insulations.

want to dump heat? Alpha, when vented, flushes heat out fast enough to minimize moisture cooling within a system.

want to control moisture? Alpha dries fast enough from body that other layers return to moisture-holding baseline rapidly.

polartec alpha structure knit

Alpha naked: stripped of its facings to show Alphas remarkable structure, the combination of 3D knit and fibre clusters allows Alpha to work eficieently in so many ways

whatever your system is meant to achieve Alpha makes it do so more efficiently – which is what its designed for. for the first time an insulation is available specifically for going in with other layers, making what is otherwise the hardest element to systemize the point of orbit. its been a long time coming; long enough many had forgotten what it was indeed they were waiting for.

here are the basic numbers Polartec has out in their fact sheet:

  • Alpha has a H2O/24hrs permeability rate of 3349g compared to that of 1722g of its main competitor.

  • Alpha for its volume compresses 36% smaller than the competitor

  • Alpha at body temperature dries 20% faster

  • because Alpha doesn’t require a tightly woven facing it transpires vapor 3 times more efficiently when faced on one side as a windproof layer, or 4 times more efficiently when faced on both sides with a non-air resistant layer

TMP is amongst the first to trial Alpha combined with facings beyond the shell nylon  the initial test samples came in. our recent designs combine 2 other specialist fabrics; an Alpha-specific inner mesh facing that minimizes the Alphas performance, and a new variant of powershieldthat doesn’t use a membrane (more on that next time). needless to say it’s a huge leap out from the earlier Alpha protos that although good, didn’t really represent the true potential of the textile.

polartec alpha mesh powershield teton bros

Alpha/3d mesh/powershield complex: now we are getting somewhere! amazing fabrics that change the way insulation functions

TMP also makes a point of not pushing Alpha to replace Primaloft – something many early concepts are doing. as in our Alpha-powershield designs, we treat it very differently, surrounding it with fabrics that optimize the differences rather than reduce them for a market that will be confused at first.

polartec alpha sleeping system test 1500m/-8c/3ppl/single skin

sleeping system test: active use is no problem to test, 9hrs in a tent is less fun. the combined factors of 3 people, stoves and a single skin tent over several nights will push any insulations parameters

to add to this we have been trialing Alpha and Primaloft and down together, in both clothing and sleeping systems that also include DryQ, Pertex and Neoshell. in all tests Alpha has come out as having a distinct and radical place. not only will Alpha alter the ideas for clothing, it will evolve how we think about sleeping as well.

needless to say, that’s yet another chapter in the works.

reproduction without permission and acknowledgement is plagarism. write your own stuff. iceclimbingjapan2013