The human body already has a highly efficient cooling system: As perspiration evaporates, it draws heat away from the body. Wicking fabrics facilitate this process by distributing sweat evenly over the fabric, so that it dries more quickly. Despite devising cheats, such as menthol-like chemical coatings added to fabrics, companies have never actually improved upon the body’s natural cooling process. Designers at Columbia Sportswear have now made a fabric that does.Quoting the press release for the Omni-Freeze ZERO technology:
Distinctive little blue rings, embedded and visible in the fabric of Omni-Freeze ZERO apparel and footwear, contain a special cooling polymer. When exposed to sweat or moisture, these rings actually swell (similar to goose bumps) creating an instant and prolonged cooling sensation.The swelling requires energy and draws heat from the surroundings. Products based on the technology will be available in Spring 2013. Stephen Regenold, the editor of GearJunkie.com, has more details on Omni-Freeze ZERO and describes his experiences:
Ran 17 miles today (!) through the desert on a tough trail run in clothing made from this material. I wore the Mountain Hardwear version. First impression = good! It’s a slick formula. The cooling effect is noticeable, especially in the wind + the shirts are top notch for running-wear in general — comfy and highly-wicking.