The North Face Just Invented a New Kind of Active Insulation. We’re Not Sold (Yet).

September 20, 2017 Sports and Outdoors By

Yesterday, The North Face touted that they had created the “next evolution of synthetic-insulation technology.” It’s called Ventrix. In a video, various Ventrix jackets and hoodies are shown on the backs of The North Face athletes Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold and Emily Harrington. As the athletes climb and ski, clouds of vapor appear to emanate from the Ventrix jackets, almost like a big sponge being pumped with steam. By performing this smoke magic, The North Face is trying to demonstrate how Ventrix’s active insulation technology vents hot air, and, in a way, position it as something totally new and innovative.

It’s not. Active insulation has been around for years. Polartec Alpha has become as ubiquitous as ordinary goose down; dozens of outerwear brands have their own proprietary active insulation technology. But where Ventrix differs slightly is its perforations — hundreds of tiny vents, basically. When you’re idle, the perforations remain closed, thereby trapping heat. When you’re active, the perforations stretch open to release heat. It’s that simple. Whether or not it’s the “next evolution of synthetic-insulation technology” is hard to say. But if, in real life, Ventrix appears anything like the sexy smoke magic thing that it does in the campaign video, consider us sold.

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