Last week in Denver, at a Columbia Sportswear event stocked with gear designers and at least one Olympic athlete, I got a sneak peek at what was being called “the warmest puffy on the planet.”
It was one product among a dozen at a 2015 unveiling. But being a sucker for superlatives I gravitated toward the puffy parka and its shiny, baffled face, named ambitiously as the Heatzone 1000.
Columbia won’t release the parka until late next year. But I got to try it on and pick the brain of one of its designers.
The jacket – full name: Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Hooded Jacket – earned its “world’s warmest” tag after Columbia tested it this year near the North Pole.
Cutting through the company-mandated tests and the marketing at the Denver event, the Heatzone did strike as something different and new. The heat comes from metallized reflective fabric used on the shell and liner, and there’s a new type of baffle design to increase efficiency of the insulation.
The jacket uses an airy 900-fill goose down along with a synthetic insulation, both types of this body-heat-trapping fluff construed in a complex wave-like pattern.
The result, a designer explained to me, is an evolution of the puffy jacket that has better heat retention than “anything on the market,” he said. The wave configuration also eliminates cold air getting in from the outside, Columbia cites.
Under the bright lights inside the demo area I put the jacket on. Within a minute I was feeling the warmth in the “heat zone” created by the puffy. Despite snow falling on Colorado, they would not let me take it outside.
Clarification: The Heatzone is not the warmest jacket on the planet. That designation would go to the hefty, knee-length parkas built for polar researchers and arctic explorers. But considering its lithe build, the Columbia offering could be in the running as hottest in its civilian class.
Look for the Heatzone in fall of 2015. The jackets will cost around $450 and come in men’s and women’s models, ready for the coldest days in Denver or, maybe, at the North Pole.
On the Web: gearjunkie.com.
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