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The Gear File, vol 7

Zerofit's Heatrub Ultimate baselayer is said to be five times warmer than traditional baselayers.

Wilderness gear editor Mark Watson provides a round-up of the new and interesting products he’s discovered lately.

The ‘world’s warmest base layer’ arrives in time for winter

Japanese sports performance brand Zerofit has entered the Australasian market with what it claims is the world’s warmest baselayer, being five times warmer than ‘normal’ base layers.

That’s a big claim, but we note their flagship product, the Heatrub Ultimate Baselayer, is an interesting blend of acrylic, polyester, nylon and a small amount of wool. It has a furry fibre insulative interior that is said to activate ‘Heatrub technology’ – using the friction created by these fibres moving against the skin to generate ‘instant’ heat.

There are two garments in the Heatrub range. The Ultimate is recommended for winter conditions (-10℃  – 10℃), while the Heatrub Move, mostly polyester and polypropylene,  has a recommended range of -5℃ – 12℃ and is designed for faster moisture transfer and temperature regulation and is more suited to active sports, such as tramping.

We’ll be reviewing these garments soon. 

Icebreaker’s ZoneKnit hoodie.

Icebreaker’s new ZoneKnit range

If you’re on the lookout for winter woollies – or woollies for any time of the year, for that matter – then Icebreaker’s expanded ZoneKnit range might be worth a look. 

In 2021, Icebreaker won an ISPO award for its ZoneKnit hoodie, which is distinctive for its body-mapped zones, which help users thermoregulate – stay cooler – by featuring breathable panels to increase airflow and improve wicking. While these panels of more open-knit wool are not new to merino garments, Icebreaker does them well. 

The ZoneKnit range is ‘fully fashioned’. This has nothing to do with the catwalk, but means garments are fully knit, rather than cut and sewn, for maximum strength and comfort. 

The Sirac 50 is a new offering from Lowe Alpine.

Lowe Alpine Sirac packs

Sirac packs, with capacities ranging from 40-65l, are Lowe Alpine’s latest range of high-volume tramping packs. 

Various models have between 50 to 100 per cent recycled fabrics and they all have ‘an advanced, lightweight back system that flexes as you move …  ideal for long hikes or treks on challenging routes’. 

The harness is plush and breathable, and there are generous hip belt pockets (always good), a sleeping bag compartments, capacity for tools or hiking poles and large mesh side pockets. Weights vary, but the 50l model is 1780g. They’re expected to arrive in New Zealand later this year.

Fastpacking fabric

We’ve also noticed a new fastpacking fabric called Ultra. This fabric comes from Challenge Outdoor and, like other ultralight pack fabrics such as X-Pac and Dyneema, it’s trickled down to the tramping world from sailing. There are similar needs in sailing and tramping for stretch characteristics, tear strength and firmness of fabric (sailcloth for sailing) at the lowest possible weight. 

Ultra is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). This is a unique plastic possessing greater tensile strength than steel. Ultra is not as light as Dyneema, but it has about three times the tear strength and seven times greater abrasion resistance. It bests X-Pac by even greater margins. 

While Dyneema remains a favoured ultralight tent material, Ultra is one to watch out for in super durable and light packs.