Explorer and philanthropist David de Rothschild cares deeply about nature. With his lifestyle brand the Lost Explorer, he makes sustainable garments and wellness products aimed at facilitating people’s immersion into the natural world. “What we want to do is try and encourage people to travel and explore,” he said. “We want to try and encourage people to look at nature through a different lens — look at it through the lens of excitement and look at it with a sense of awe and wonder.” The brand’s new Aardvark jacket is designed with the traveler in mind and is windproof, waterproof and breathable.
The jacket utilizes c_change, a membrane that adapts to changing temperatures, from the Swiss textile-innovator Schoeller. “Membranes have existed for many years, but we made one which can be water and windproof, breathable, adaptable to a wearer’s activity level and the temperature around the wearer,” said Roland Lottenbach, the head of R & D for Coatings and Finishings division at Schoeller. “It opens to let warmth out, and when it’s colder, keep the warmth in. It’s also hydrophilic, which means that it releases sweat as liquid and not just gas, so you never feel damp either.” A jacket that changes for your comfort seemed futuristic and almost too good to be true, so I had to get my hands on it to see for myself.
The Good: This jacket windproof, waterproof and highly breathable. If you’re looking for a shell to protect you in variable weather conditions, this one is ideal. The jacket’s breathability changes depending on temperatures and activity, keeping you comfortable, no matter the situation. The design is understated and tasteful, and the grey wool weave appears far less tech-y than other waterproof jackets. For those concerned with sustainability, this jacket utilizes sustainable materials (wool) and the c_change technology has “below detectable levels” of PFOA and PFOS.
Who Its For: This is the ideal travel jacket for someone who needs a waterproof shell but wants something that doesn’t scream “mountain bro.” It excels in variable weather conditions and is suited for transitional temperatures. If you care about the planet, this jacket addresses sustainability more than other jackets with similar features.
Watch Out For: The price of this jacket is steep compared to other waterproof breathable shells. While it offers good breathability, that may not justify the increased price for certain people. Because of the nature of the c_change technology, the membrane is less breathable when it’s colder. According to Stephen Kerns, Schoeller’s president, this is the tradeoff to producing a high-performance membrane that is sustainable. The jacket doesn’t have a two-way zipper — this is more standard for rain shells — so if you need a lower zipper, you should probably look elsewhere. Also, the hood is streamlined and doesn’t feature the extended bill that some coats have. In heavy rain conditions, this could be more of an issue.
Alternatives: If you’re looking to give c_change a try, you can grab Aether’s Altitude shell for $675. It’s a fine example of this technology in use, but it skews more mountain-y than the Aardvark jacket. If you want a more city-to-mountain hybrid jacket, Mission Workshop makes a hooded blazer — really more a tailored jacket — called the Remi, which retails for $785. If you’d rather try other waterproof and breathable membranes that approach the category differently than Schoeller, there are numerous options at a range of price points that include Dermizax NX, eVent, Gore-Tex Pro and Polartec NeoShell technologies.
Review: Spring weather in New York City is incredibly undecided this year. A sunny 70-degree day was followed by a day of rain in the 40s. It’s snowed and sleeted. It’s been balmy and temperate. Needless to say, it’s been the perfect weather to test the Aardvark jacket from the Lost Explorer. The jacket, which utilizes c_change technology from Swiss textile innovator Schoeller, is waterproof, windproof and highly breathable. The c_change technology is a sustainable membrane based on biomimicry. Inspired by a fir cone, the design’s pores open and close to regulate temperature. “c_change reacts in a similar way to changing conditions. With a temperature rise from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit), the moisture vapor transport increases by 50 percent,” said Stephen Kerns, the President of Schoeller. “Similarly, the polymer structure of the membrane contracts when the temperature drops and heat retention increases so that protection and comfort are guaranteed under all weather conditions.”
The Aardvark has a minimalist design that was easy to incorporate into my daily wear. The shell has a merino wool weave, which looks decidedly less tech-y than other rain jackets, and didn’t seem out of place with my jeans and boots. It is very lightweight and has a good range of movement. I was able to layer under it when the days were cooler, but the jacket’s ample inner pockets made storing necessities — keys, wallet, phone — very easy. No matter the weather, the Aardvark kept me dry and comfortable. Unlike other shells that seem appropriate for certain temperature zones, I wore the jacket on both moderately warm days and cool days and I never wished for something different.
Verdict: Though pricey, this jacket is an ideal waterproof shell for travelers. Because of the c_change technology, it will keep you comfortable in a range of climates and weather conditions. The merino wool weave is more appropriate for casual settings than other tech-y shells and you can easily incorporate this jacket into your existing wardrobe. The sustainable aspects of the jacket, while not the sole focus, are important. And, if you have the money to support brands that focus on environmentally-friendly product, it would be more than appropriate to do so.
What Others Are Saying About Schoeller c_change Technology:
• “Many have found this technology preferable over GORE-TEX as it tends to be more breathable, and offers stretch, for a more flexible comfortable fit.” — Ski Weekend
• “[c_change] sounds impressive and it actually delivers. I will go as far as to say that it is bloody amazing.” — TR McGowran, road.cc
• “The target consumer for c_change, Kerns says, is someone looking for the ultimate comfort and waterproofness in stylish laminates, which range from “outdoor pursuits to urban sophistication in our new Cosmopolitan collection.'” — Tucker Bowe, Gear Patrol
Membrane Technology: Schoeller c_change
Shell: Three-layer with 59% merino wool
Closure: One-way zipper
Exterior Pockets: Two front slash pocket, one back zip-pouch pocket
Interior Pockets: Two chest zip-pockets, one electronics pouch
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