The North Face has released a new line of outerwear clothing technology designed to be both breathable and waterproof. The brand announced its new Futurelight innovation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
(Courtesy of The North Face)
Balancing breathability with waterproofing has always been difficult for clothing manufacturers. Waterproofing requires a fabric that resists water passing through, but breathability means air should still be able to do so.
The “nanospinning” technology behind Futurelight allows microscopic holes to be added during the manufacturing process, promoting the flow of air through the fabric while not affecting the waterproof exterior. The aim is to make hiking gear, ski clothing, or rain jackets much more comfortable to wear. According to The North Face’s press release, Futurelight will initially be used on jackets, tents, and gloves, but could expand across its range in the future.
“Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable,” said Scott Mellin, Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face, in the company’s press release. “With Futurelight we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable.”
Nanospinning also helps The North Face designers to adjust the weight, stretch, breathability, durability, and texture of the clothing. For example, a garment made for cyclists can be customized to have increased breathability, while a garment for skiers or mountain climbers can be made with fabric meant to maximize durability and protection against harsh, wet climates.
Futurelight material was tested by The North Face global athlete alpinist Jim Morrison. He and his partner Hilaree Nelson climbed and skied three 8,000 meter peaks in the Himalayas while wearing the breathable waterproof clothing.
“During the past two years, our world class team of climbers, skiers, alpinists, snowboarders and trail runners has been rigorously testing Futurelight across every discipline to prove this technology in varying weather conditions and climates all over the world,” said Nelson, The North Face athlete team captain. “In all my years in the mountains, I’ve never experienced a product that moved and performed as well as Futurelight. It is creating a new paradigm for what I expect out of a waterproof material.”
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