Polartec has been pioneering outdoor fabrics and insulations for decades. It collaborated with Patagonia to invent fleece in the 1980s (back then it was called Malden Mills), and long before that it made wool clothing for soldiers fighting in both World Wars. Polartec still works to outfit soldiers in the best materials possible — that’s how it landed on Alpha, a synthetic insulation that’s also remarkably breathable.
Alpha was created to meet the Special Forces’ demand for a highly adaptable material that could provide warmth at rest but breath and regulate temperature during activity. It helped establish a new category in insulated jackets called active insulation, and today it’s used widely by brands like Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Rab and Nike. Alpha is mostly used in jackets and vests that are designed for activities like running, ski touring and mountaineering. Now, for the first time, it’s making an appearance in a sock.
Lorpen, a Spanish sock company you may not have heard of, created the T3+ sock for skiing and mountaineering. The idea is to provide the most warmth possible for these cold-environment pursuits. Using Alpha makes sense; even in cold environments feet get sweaty, and that moisture can then cool significantly, defeating the purpose of wearing those extra-thick socks in the first place (this is why many skiers opt for the thinnest socks possible). Alpha’s ability to manage moisture should, in theory, prevent this from happening. If so, Lorpen just created the Holy Grail of ski socks.
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