When it’s the dead of winter, and you’re bracing yourself for the cold, you’ve got no shortages of ways to stay warm.
If you’re looking for BIG warmth in dry weather, you’ll want to go with down insulation. If you’re more concerned about staying warm when WET, you’ll want to choose synthetic insulation. Today we’re talking about the latter – staying warm when wet – especially when that wetness comes from within.
Yes, we’re talking about sweat. And more specifically, how to stay warm when you’re working hard and moving fast in cold environments.
Meet VerticalX: The high-loft synthetic insulation that combines a superior warmth-to-weight ratio with breathability and moisture management that’s defining a new category of active comfort.
What exactly does that mean?
Frankly, it’s easier to deal with wetness when it comes from the outside – just wrap it up in a waterproof jacket. When wetness comes from the inside, things get tricky. That’s what we’re here to solve with VerticalX. This technology has vertically oriented fibers to speed up moisture transport from the body by reducing the friction the moisture faces as it escapes. It keeps you warm while you're sweating hard.
VerticalX technology gives you the warmth you need in cold environments, but the breathability you need when you’re actively moving and sweating. It’s like Goldilocks: Just the right amount of warmth, breathability, and “bounce back” high loft you want for extended adventures outside.
How does it work?
Imagine ordinary synthetic insulation like a pile of leaves. Laid on top of each other, the leaves trap air with their own mass. That trapped air acts like an insulation through convection from the heat of the earth. When the leaves get wet, the trapped air gets very damp and takes a long time to dry out completely. Ever dig into a “dry pile of leaves” and find the middle still soaked?
The bottom line is that no matter how big and lofty the pile of leaves, if there’s moisture hidden within, that warmth will leave you feeling heavy and suffocated.
Remember: The best insulation is just the best way of trapping air, because air = warmth. Clothing insulation has its own measurement – what we call units of clo, but too much clo is just like a larger pile of leaves: Harder for air and moisture to move through.
Now the real challenge becomes finding a way to achieve higher clo that doesn’t impact moisture movement.
So how do you make something warm AND breathable?
What VerticalX does is stand those leaves upright, transforming the pile into perfectly vertical columns. This way, moisture is able to escape upward through the leaves, instead of trapping it underneath all of those layers of random leaves. This is called RET, or Resistance to Evaporative Transfer. The lower the RET, the less resistance there is to evaporative transfer of heat. With a lower RET, you’re moving moisture more efficiently since you’re holding onto dry heat rather than wet heat. That moisture can come from the inside (sweat), or from the outside (precipitation), and either way, VerticalX will breathe and leave you feeling dry.
In conclusion: A jacket with high clo will keep you warm, and a jacket with low RET will keep you dry.
How does the loft of an insulation play with the clo and RET?
Another way to think of VerticalX is like beams supporting a house. When the beams are vertically oriented (instead of overlapping like a pile of leaves), they provide more support to the entire structure. If rain, wind, or another outside force tries to penetrate VerticalX, the fibers are less likely to slump, crumple, or flatten because they are naturally inclined to stand up straight... unlike a pile of criss-crossed beams on the floor.
VerticalX was aptly named because its fibers are vertical, and stay vertical, even after they’ve been compacted down nice and tight for extended amounts of time. That’s exactly how VerticalX’s loft is able to bounce back so quickly after being stored in the bottom of a backpack for hours.
How can VerticalX do all of that at the same time?
The keyword here is BALANCE. If it was freezing cold, you’d want maximum clo. If you were sweating hot, you’d want maximum RET. VerticalX has just the right amount of both clo and RET: It insulates like down but performs better when wet. It is far more breathable than competitors, and it has far superior stretch to regular synthetic insulations.
Plus, since we offer numerous styles between 40g to 150g, there are tons of ways to wear and use VerticalX depending on the season and the conditions you’ll be subjected to.
Basically, if you’re looking for something to wear when you’re actively moving, sweating, and exposing yourself to freezing cold + wet environments, you want VerticalX on your side (and on your back).
Move, don’t remove, with VerticalX.
You can find VerticalX in the Refuge Collection, including the Refuge Hooded Jacket, Refuge Air Hooded Jacket, Refuge Hybrid Hooded Jacket, and Prologue Refuge Jackets.
You can also find VerticalX in our new Tungsten Gore-Tex Collection, featuring jackets and pants with waterproof protection and durable warmth for cold, stormy days in the snow.
Photos by Joey Schusler.