US outdoor clothing, and footwear, specialist Columbia is 75 years young this year and still churning out innovations in comfortable and protective materials. Woody Blackford, who joined the company as a Senior Designer in 2005, has reinforced his team to keep coming up with proprietary technologies to beat the heat, cold, insect bites and more.
Two years’ development went into its latest brainchild: a triple-purpose T-shirt that keeps wearers cool, dry and safe in the sun. All good news for practitioners of outdoor sports and leisure pursuits.
It comes with its own in-built cooling system: when exposed to sweat, 41,000 tiny blue polymer rings, 0.4 cm in diameter, embedded in the underside of the fabric swell up and give off a cooling active ingredient which lowers the fibre’s temperature. It works through a capillary evaporation process which keeps the shirt dry and the wearer cool. But you need a microscope to see it happen.
Very tight knit polyester and elasthane fibres (you can’t see light through them) protect from sunlight by creating a total sunblock, stopping UVA and UVB from reaching the skin, while micro-silica grains embedded in the yarn’s weft act as micro-reflectors to bounce back the sun’s rays.