Columbia announces Omni-Freeze ZERO, sports gear that cools you down the hotter you get (video)

Columbia is announcing the Omni-Freeze ZERO, a range of sports gear that cools you the more you sweat. Blue rings of cooling polymer cover the garments, which swell when exposed to moisture -- letting air pass around you as if you had goosebumps. Unlike typical compression garments, which wick the sweat away from you, this puts your natural resources to good use, so much so that the company believes it's cooler than taking your top off entirely. The futuristic gear will also turn up in a new range of footwear, but before you can get too excited, there's a catch; it isn't due to hit stores until next year, so you've still got a few months of getting sweaty.

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Columbia Sportswear Previews Omni-Freeze® ZERO

New and unique visual apparel cooling technology to be released to consumers in Spring 2013 and to select athletes much sooner

PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Columbia Sportswear, a global leader in active outdoor apparel, footwear and accessories, today announced the upcoming Spring 2013 availability of Omni-Freeze ZERO, the company's latest groundbreaking apparel technology.

"Historically, outdoor and athletic brands have looked at sweating as a problem...something to be wicked away with so-called 'technical,' decades-old polyester fabrics"

Omni-Freeze ZERO is the culmination of a four-year effort to develop a new, revolutionary line of apparel that becomes cooler in hot, moist conditions. 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.

"Historically, outdoor and athletic brands have looked at sweating as a problem...something to be wicked away with so-called 'technical,' decades-old polyester fabrics," said Mick McCormick, executive vice president. "Omni-Freeze ZERO is an entirely new approach, and unlike anything the industry has ever seen. We see sweat as a renewable resource that will allow athletes, outdoor enthusiasts or anyone that spends time in hot, humid conditions to sweat smarter, staying more comfortable."

Columbia will release the new technology to consumers in the spring of 2013. Omni-Freeze ZERO will be integrated across a line of 40 styles that will include men's and women's shirts, performance layers, headwear, sleeves and other accessories. Columbia will also add Omni-Freeze ZERO to its Powerdrain footwear models to keep the shoes cool in hot weather. The full line is designed to keep consumers and athletes comfortable from head to toe, even as temperature records continue to rise.

Omni-Freeze ZERO is the latest in a string of new technologies developed by Columbia's Performance Innovation Team (PIT). The PIT is the research and innovation division of Columbia Sportswear Company tasked with developing revolutionary consumer solutions for the company's entire brand portfolio, which includes Columbia, Sorel, Mountain Hardwear, and Montrail.

"We see Omni-Freeze ZERO as a real game changer in terms of how people think about performance and comfort in hot weather," said Woody Blackford, vice president of innovation and head of the Performance Innovation Team. "In general, people remove clothing layers to stay cool, but sponsored athletes using Omni-Freeze ZERO have noted that in hot, humid conditions, this is the first technology that feels cooler and more comfortable than wearing nothing at all. We're continuing to test the properties of this new technology in our lab and are sponsoring independent laboratory research."