The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

Ep. 49: New Tech & Trends in Outerwear

Blister Podcast, Blister Review

Technical outerwear and apparel continues to evolve, but what are the most interesting new technologies and trends you should know about? To answer that, we talk to Blister’s outerwear guru, Sam Shaheen.

Sam Shaheen reviews the North Face Dolomiti 1/4 Zip FuseForm Hoody for Blister Gear Review.Sam Shaheen reviews the North Face Dolomiti 1/4 Zip FuseForm Hoody for Blister Gear Review.

Sam Shaheen in TNF Dolomiti 1/4 Zip FuseForm Hoody.

To put it mildly, Sam is interesting. At the age of 15, he started his own outerwear company, and he recently completed his graduate studies in Bern, Switzerland. So in this episode, Sam and I talk about his background; starting and running an outerwear company; how and why Sam first got involved with Blister; and what Sam regards as the most important new technologies and trends in outerwear & apparel.

TOPICS & TIMES:

  • Sam’s background (2:00)
  • Starting an outerwear company at the age of 15 (5:55)
  • The significant challenges of building an outerwear company (11:00)
  • How — and why — Sam first got involved with Blister (18:58)
  • New Tech #1: “breathable” insulation (25:20)
  • New Tech #2: “the coolest technology ever”- new manufacturing processes (31:43)
  • New Tech #3: “the death of down” (35:26)

Related Articles on Blister by Sam Shaheen:

2 Comments

  1. Chris August 4, 2017 Reply

    I really enjoyed listening to the podcast. The gear talk was right up my alley, thank you!

    I just wanted to comment on the hardshell topic, along with the “Death of Down” topic. I am by no means an expert and Sam has way, way more experience in garment production than I do, but I thought it was important to mention a couple things.

    As an ice climber who started to dabble in winter alpine climbing, I feel the breathable insulation introduction has been a game changer. My argument for a hardshell is weight. With the introduction of breathables, climbers can wear their breathable pieces ninety-percent of the time and have a Gore-Tex, NeoShell, eVent, etc. shell packed in their pack for emergencies or when the wind is just too much for the breathable insulating piece to handle. Softshells can easily way two or three times as much as a bear-bones, climbing-orientated waterproof/breathable.

    The sub twelve ounce hardshell is what I carry and two of them come to mind. The Arc’teryx Alpha FL Jacket and the Westcomb Shift LT Hoody. The Alpha FL is Gore-Tex Pro and the Shift LT is NeoShell. Both are +/- twelve ounces and are great pieces of kit!

    Secondly, I pray for the day synthetic insulation can match the warmth, as in clo values, that down has, along with its compressibility and rebound effects. As a winter climber, I’ve tried a vast amount of synthetic pieces and none of them, at least for me, come close to the warmth and compressibility of goose down. When it’s 10ºF and your’re at a belay at elevation, modern synthetic insulations just can’t even play in the same ball park as goose down in winter temperatures.

    I really do hope Sam is right and one day, synthetics can replace down. I hate the thought of plucking feathers from an animal and I hate the fact that you have to “baby” down so it doesn’t get wet.

    Just my two cents! I really appreciate this episode, thank you!

    • Sam Shaheen August 5, 2017 Reply

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it! I think it’s important to note that when I talk about softshells, I just mean shells that offer less protection than traditional hardshells. They typically feature thinner membranes or even just tight woven face fabrics and usually have no fleecy insulation. These jackets weigh 20-50% more than their hardshell counterparts but are more comfortable and pack down just as easily all while breathing extremely well. Softshells aren’t all hard faced fleeces!

      Also, I think you’ll be very impressed by some of the new synthetic insulation that’s coming out in the fall, I’ve been very impressed myself and I think some companies are getting close to matching the performance of down.

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