You’ve probably got a fleece jacket or hoodie in your closet. Maybe ten of them. And you may even call them “polarfleece,” since that’s what they were called when the fabric was first invented in 1981. Yes, that ubiquitous fabric that has been in everything from pullovers to pajamas was invented by the Polartec® company as Polarfleece®, and everything since has spun off from that (pun intended).
But the company, whose roots are in a 1906 New England mill, is always innovating, and in 2018 they created Power Fill™, the first 100-percent post-consumer recycled fill insulation.
The material was designed to help you retain more heat without added weight or bulk, which makes it ideal for all kinds of outerwear, including our 2-Way Zip Quilted Vest. Breathable, lightweight, highly compressible, and fast drying, it is an ideal insulator.
What makes it better than down, previously the most sought-after winter warmer? Well, aside from the points already made—lighter in both weight and thickness—it has the major advantage of keeping its structure when wet. Down loses its ability to keep you warm in rain or wet snow as the feathers compress and stick together. But Polartec® Power Fill™ is made of proprietary spun hollow fibers bonded to create thermal air pockets around and inside the material. And air is the best insulator there is.
Another reason synthetics like Power Fill™ are overtaking down is that they don’t require the killing of animals. Even sustainably sourced goose down, which uses down as a byproduct of factory farming, has serious issues. Although there are some downsides to synthetics, due to their use of petroleum-based and other chemicals, Polartec® has once again taken the lead on addressing this need.
In their ongoing effort to maximize heat retention and reduce environmental impact,
they pushed further and made Power Fill™ from 100% post-consumer recycled content.
Peter Whittaker, founder of Bight Gear and a co-owner of guiding service Rainier Mountaineering, says that he prototyped a synthetic puffy belay coat with several different types of insulation. Power Fill™ was the warmest. “To have a material that’s fully functional and also environmentally friendly is pretty incredible,” he says.
Sustainable, warm, lightweight, quick drying, breathable, and you can squash it into a ball. Now that’s modern technology.