Oros Apparel claims to have developed the thinnest, warmest clothing on Earth. How? by using the same material NASA insulates their space shuttles and suits with. Aerogel was developed by NASA for this exact purpose, and in fact boasts the lowest thermal conductivity of any substance known to man. In other words, it’s literally the best insulating material every created or discovered. However, the first composites while extremely lightweight were also very brittle. That is, until the advent of polymer-enhanced Aerogels came around. What was once extremely fragile is now extremely strong.
Now, engineers at Oros have developed and patented a flexible, breathable, hydrophobic, four-way stretch fabric Aerogel for use in civilian clothing. What once required heavy, bulky synthetic or down can now be accomplished with three millimeters of Aerogel fabric.
It will be interesting to see how these jackets stand up to real world abuse. Also, if Oros decides to branch out towards outdoor gear like underblankets and sleeping bags. For now, check them out for yourself. The video below shows an Oros developer being blasted by liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are a great many things the United States Marine Core has mastered. One of them is socks and underwear. I first discovered these socks a couple years back while on base at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. If you haven’t already heard, Military boot socks are perfect for use in the backcountry. Despite three years of hard use, these socks remain my most comfortable, most durable, highest performing socks to date. If you’re looking to keep your feet both warm and dry without sweating through your boots, this is what you want. There is no better sock for hard-use, multi-climate situations. Of course they are a little on the pricier side, but hey, you get what you pay for.
I can assure you that every cold day of winter, every time I put my boots on, and every time my brother goes overseas, these are on our feet. In fact, Covert Threads has received an official military commendation from the United States Marine Corps.
Covert Threads – Materials
Developed by military personnel for use within specific climate ranges, Covert Threads has developed arguably the best military boot sock. Perhaps, even the best boot sock overall. If you’re in the military or serious about hiking, backpacking, bushcraft, or hunting; I strongly recommend you take a look at these socks.
This all natural super fabric is legendary among outdoorsmen for good reason. Its many characteristics provide the perfect combination of pros and cons in the bush. Naturally absorbent, wicking material pulls sweat, oil, and moisture from saturated areas and disperses it. This helps to prevent odor, but also eliminate soggy sweat laden clothing. Wool fabric also has tiny crimps, or bends, creating millions of insulating air pockets. This enables wool to keep you warm even when wet, or trap the cooling effects of sweating in the heat. For this reason wool is often ideal for cold temperatures, where wet clothing can be a death sentence.
Lycra, or Spandex is a synthetic fiber known for its elasticity. Stronger and more durable than rubber, Lycra can return to its original shape after extreme stretching. Its commonly used in athletic clothing for its comfortable, for fitting feel. This allows fabric to move, stretch, and be manipulated in synergy with the body. It also dries faster than traditional fabrics.
X-Static Silver is a powerful technology that applies the naturally antimicrobial properties of silver to conventional fabric. X-Static fibers are created by bonding pure silver their surface. This allows the fabric to remain odor free for several wear cycles in between washing. Despite being coated entirely in silver, X-Static fibers are soft, flexible, and comfortable to the touch.
Coolmax fabric utilizes the power of capillary action to draw moisture away from saturated areas to be dispersed and evaporated over a larger surface area. Often used in athletic outdoor clothing like climbing gear, Coolmax also improves resistance to fading, shrinking, and wrinkling. As a polyester fiber it also increases the general durability of a garment beyond the ability of conventional materials.
Synthetic acrylic fibers are used in clothing for their similarity to wool. Acrylic fabric is both durable and insulating yet can be machine washed unlike most wool products. It is also inexpensive compared to wool, but does not have the same wicking abilities.
Nylon fabric is widely used in outdoor products. Specifically heavy duty applications. It is known for extreme water and abrasion resistance, as well as a high strength to weight ratio.
Nano Silver: 2.5%
For hot weather climates, I would recommend Covert Threads Sand Military Boot Socks This breathable, insulating, form-fitting matrix combined with the anti-microbial properties of nano-silver can’t be beaten. You’ll also be glad for the extra cushioning the thickness provides.
Anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time outdoor knows the importance of a good pair of boots. Military personnel know it best. Combat or military style boots are probably my favorite style of boot to wear, and for good reason. Combat boots are designed to be lightweight, breathable, durable, weatherproof, etc. etc. etc.. They’re the athletic shoes of the boot world.
Minimalist footwear is all the rage these days. This style is supposed to mimic the mechanics of our natural “barefoot” ability. Touted for its various health benefits, many athletes are transitioning toward it. Lack of excessive restriction and support naturally strengthens our balance and athletic ability by engaging muscle groups not normally triggered in traditional footwear. Plus, eliminating excess weight relieves unnatural stress on joints and provides a more comfortable experience overall.
Some may find the concept of minimalist boots a little redundant. Why eliminate additional support? Isn’t that the point of wearing boots in the first place? yes and no. Minimalist boots still allow for ample ankle support during high-stress activity, protection from the elements, and a buffer between your foot and whatever hazards it might encounter. Combine that with decreased weight and increased flexibility and you have the perfect storm.
Most minimal footwear comes with a widened toe-box, true to the belief that our feet are most efficient when our toes can spread out… just like walking barefoot. This provides us with additional balance and maneuverability. When first putting on the Belleville Mini-Mil, they might feel like clown shoes. The widened toe box feels a little excessive until your toes naturally adjust. Once this happens, you’ll wonder why shoes were ever designed any differently.
Those familiar know Vibram makes the best soles around. The Vibram Tarsus sole on this boot is both oil and slip resistant, providing traction in the worst of conditions. Of all shoes I’ve ever worn, this has got to be the best sole on any of them. Between walking through slick rocky stream beds and unforgiving scree slopes these soles provide a sure and steady grip. Consistent with the minimalist style this boot provides a 2mm heel-toe drop, creating a true barefoot stride. That being said, they’re really thin. This could be a pro or con depending which way you look at it. It will force you to mind where you step, because if you step on a nail, you can be sure it’ll go straight through. The whole point is to feel barefoot right? Nevertheless, this has only happened to me once.
The Mini-Mil’s cordura nylon & cowhide leather upper is both supportive and flexible. Depending on how tight you prefer to lace your boots, it can be relaxed enough to wear around the house or tight enough to ruck over hazardous terrain. Nevertheless, it appears to provide the perfect balance of manueverability and protection. Plus, they provide ample protection from sharp rocks or brush without adding additional weight.
As seasons change and temperatures start to drop, your kit starts to change too. One of the first things I start to add is are layers, especially for the head. Because we lose so much heat through our heads, a good insulating hat becomes pretty important on the trail. And because cotton kills, I always opt for something thick and insulating especially when wet. Often the first place I start to feel cold are my ears. Thus, a hat that covers them well is a life saver. Beanies or knitted caps are a perfect solution for this, and that’s what I usually wear.
My favorite, and potentially the best outdoor winter hat is the Carhartt Watch Hat. While many choose wool hats to cover their noggin, this hat is acrylic. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber with similar insulating properties to wool. It’s more durable and much less difficult to maintain than wool. Because hats tend to come on and off, stashed away, or left laying around; I chose something a little more resilient. Wool hats require much more intensive care in the washing process. For something that absorbs so much sweat and bodily oil it’s should ideally be easily cleaned. That being said, acrylic hats don’t share the wicking properties of wool and are not as breathable. However, I do find them less itchy and more comfortable to wear.
The Watch Hat seems to accept whatever position or style you wear it in. I like that I can fold it up or down in order to adjust coverage, and it easily protects the ears from chilling winter winds. Consistent with other Carhartt products it’s pretty bomb proof. It also comes in an endless variety of colors. While wool hats can get pretty expensive, these are pretty cheap. Inexpensive is probably a better word than cheap, because these hats aren’t junk. Because they’re so inexpensive I have a couple of them and I’m not afraid to lose or ruin them. As far as knitted caps go, the Watch Hat is the best value available.
Because our extremities are so vulnerable when the temperature starts to drop, it’s vital to protect them. Sturdy work gloves are an essential piece of kit for practicing bushcraft. When the weather starts to turn, it’s wise to pack a pair with a little more heft to them. Finding a work glove that combines protection, durability, dexterity and insulation is an interesting challenge. So far, I’ve found the best insulated outdoor work gloves to be the Carhartt Men’s Insulated Grain Leather Work Glove. Carhartt carries a strong reputation for producing rugged, high quality work wear. Visit any construction site in the colder months, and you’ll see a bunch of khaki-clad men walking around in Carhartt coats and coveralls. Any glove chosen by men who work with their hands all day, has got to translate well to the bush.
I’ve worn these gloves on the jobsite and in the bush and don’t believe there to be a better option. They’re warm, comfortable, and durable. Unlike most heavy gloves I don’t find them getting in the way of performing delicate tasks. There are more expensive options, but when it comes to gloves, I tend to take the “semi-disposable” approach. I don’t care how much you spend on your work gloves, they’re going to wear out eventually. The “buy it for life” mentality simply just doesn’t apply here. That being said, there are no cheaper gloves in this category worth buying… in my humble opinion of course.
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