Not one to be caught up in the fun and camaraderie of hyperbole, I can't help but start spreading the word of The North Face's newest insulation marvel. It is Thermoball, and it is fantasti. Unlike traditional jacket insulation, which has typically consisted of continuous filament structures - fancy words for warm, but bulky, Thermoball consists of small round PrimaLoft synthetic clusters. They were attempting to take a page from the classic "down"'s playbook. Those balls serve to trap heat within small air pockets - you wear it, you generate heat, that heat is not lost but rather stays close to your body thereby keeping you toasty warm in your outdoor pursuits.
It is so lightweight, that there has been more than one customer thinking I'd suffered a blow to the head when I try to tell them that it is actually quite warm (think 600 fill down for you goose fans out there). It is so lightweight and non-bulky that it can actually be packed into its own pocket...a wonderful feature for travelling, when we are mortgaging our houses to bring an extra bag on our Alaskan cruise.
Thermoball doesn't stop there. One of the major downfalls of traditional down is that when wet, well, it stops being warm and becomes more of a liability. Not so with Thermoball. It laughs in the face of water, maintaining its warmth generating capabilities. I was reading a blog post of a gear tester who actually submerged his jacket in water (which actually proved difficult to do) put the jacket back on in -5 weather and instantly felt the jacket start generating heat again. He continued his hike and although the jacket had a layer of ice forming on the outside of it, he felt none of that cold seep in. I can think of one or two situations where that characteristic might come in handy.
Come see these garments for yourself. At Play, we've stocked jackets, vests, hoodies, and the uber-hipster shacket all of which boasts these little balls of warmth in some pretty glorious colours!
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