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North Face Thermoball technology
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diego dean
North Face Thermoball technology on 11/17/2011 10:06:06 MST Print View

Dont know if this has been discussed here or not. A good alternative to down? What do you think?

Robert H
Dead link? on 11/17/2011 17:01:45 MST Print View

I am not sure if it is a problem at my end but the link you provided does not work for me...

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: North Face Thermoball technology on 11/18/2011 09:48:51 MST Print View

Thomas Dean
( - MLife

Locale: Four Corners
The North Face Thermoball on 03/08/2014 06:51:24 MST Print View

Has anyone used a Thermoball hooded jacket? I hike in the high desert and southern San Juan Mountains quite a bit. If rain comes it usually lasts a few (violent) minutes. If there was an insulated jacket that stayed reasonably warm and dried quickly, it would spare me carrying a rain layer.

I saw a review of Thermoball online somewhere, and the poster said he had drenched a Thermoball jacket and hiked unto high elevation. He reported that the wet jacket dried quickly and maintained insulation the whole time. That's just what I'm after. Does anyone have experience with this?

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
wet synthetic insulation on 03/08/2014 10:48:29 MST Print View

I don't know. While I would take a synthetic insulation layer instead of down on a wet hiking trip, I would sure not want to rely on that as a rain jacket. For one thing, the DWR finish is the only protection against rain and that is only going to provide limited protection before you get soaked through. And, while the synthetic puffy may still provide some insulation when soaked, it sure is going to be a miserable piece of clothing to wear for as long as it is wet.

I think the best way to look at synthetic insulation layers is that they are an alternative to a fleece. Usually a little lighter and offering a bit of wind/drizzle/snow protection. However, the one I have is too hot to wear while actually hiking, even in the winter or while snow shoeing. The last time I tried, I soaked the thing with sweat. PowerStrech fleece would have worked better that day, because it's more air permeable.

Edited by wcollings on 03/08/2014 10:49:17 MST.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: The North Face Thermoball on 03/08/2014 12:53:16 MST Print View

"That's just what I'm after."

Me too.

I've thought about making a jacket with Styrofoam beads (think bean bag chair) but it looked like too much sewing for me.

I'm hoping this thermoball idea works out.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Styro balls on 03/08/2014 14:18:46 MST Print View

Hey Daryl. There is a floor underlayment that's styro balls glued to a sheet of plastic.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Styro balls on 03/08/2014 15:09:23 MST Print View


Thanks for the reminder. I now recall that from your other post. Will have to take a closer look at that stuff.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: The North Face Thermoball on 03/08/2014 16:26:51 MST Print View

Polartec Alpha, being a woven insulation is supposed to be ~2x faster drying than other synthetics. But I would think the choice of shell fabric will be the main factor affecting dry time with any insulation.

Still Alpha is so new and its properties so unique that garment makers are still figuring out how best to use it. For an extreme example, instead of a solid shell fabric they could use mesh instead. Now that would dry uber quick!

Meanwhile, maybe what you really want is a light insulating jacket that has a waterproof shell. Off the top of my head, the OR Floodlight and the Eddie Bauer FA BC Microtherm come to mind.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
alpha on 03/08/2014 16:34:10 MST Print View

polartec alpha is significantly less insulating than your standard insulation

think of it as a fleece (its based on the thermal pro fleece) with an element resistant shell on top ...

i suspect that for static insulation use it may not be the "optimum" choice


Edited by bearbreeder on 03/08/2014 16:35:17 MST.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: The North Face Thermoball on 03/08/2014 16:40:32 MST Print View

I thought about some type of plastic beads, too, when I first read about the thermoball. The main downside, I think, would be low compressibility, and depending on bead size, breathability. If one didn't mind non-compressibilty, I think this could work.

The actual technology is compressible, but how well will it recover from compression?


Bill S.

Edited by sbill9000 on 03/08/2014 16:41:30 MST.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 16:46:30 MST Print View

Like all insulated garments Eric, warmth will depend on how much insulation is used. There apparently four weights of Alpha: 60, 80, 100 and 120gm/m2. See the diff?

Alpha 60 80 100 120gm/m2

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 16:52:29 MST Print View

for the same weight im willing to be that the alpha has a much lower CLO value ... which is what polartec and westcombs chart above show

i mean if all we wanted was "warmth" we could just wear heavy fleece ... its "warmth" per weight



Edited by bearbreeder on 03/08/2014 16:59:19 MST.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Alpha and Thermoball on 03/08/2014 17:11:53 MST Print View

I have been playing with both 80g Alpha and the Thermoball jacket.

Alpha is great for situations when you want to be warm but may also sweat a lot. Excellent for stop and go and dries faster and retains less moisture than standard Primaloft gear. Basically, exactly as advertised. Not as warm, but good for those who sweat. Outstanding for climbing ice or in shoulder season.

Thermoball jacket is very nice. Fabric is gossamer thin, so I am not going to rub it on rocks. It's an interesting piece from a lightweight standpoint. It is unlined unlike the Nano Puff that people usually compare it to, so less "wasted" fabric. The quilting makes it pretty chilly in windy weather, but it is nice and warm under a wind proof. The comfortable temperature range for this jacket is pretty wide because of this. Finally, it does warm and release moisture faster than Nano Puff. I have noticed some Thermoball escaping the quilting. I'll be testing this jacket through the spring.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 17:12:08 MST Print View

Not sure if your chart is accurate Eric. All the clo specs I've seen for PL1 show .90 when wet, .92 when dry. Is there a higher spec'd synthetic?

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 17:16:32 MST Print View

the chart comes from the westcomb fall 2013 catalog ... the numbers are from polartec themselves

they give it as "* Warmth: clo test using ASTM F1868-09 "

i dont have access to the actual standard but you can purchase them here

remember that just because primaloft expresses it in one measurement metric doesnt mean every other company does as well

basically polartec THEMSELVES is saying that the alpha is NOT as warm per weight as normal synthetic insulation

nor should it be ... its meant for people on the move ... and its based off their thermal pro high loft FLEECE

if you want im sure you can ask polartec themslves if their alpha is as warm as say primaloft


Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 17:22:52 MST Print View

Dude, maybe the Westcomb chart is wrong? FWIW, the dry time value also differs from what Polartec publishes under their own site. Anywhoo, you always like to be right so I will AGREE from all the available reviews indicates Alpha as it has been used so far is not as warm as other similar garmets.

Edited by rmjapan on 03/08/2014 17:25:05 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/08/2014 17:31:27 MST Print View

FWIW, the dry time value also differs from what Polartec publishes under their own site.


shall you or i send an email to polartec asking if the chart i posted is correct?

are we REALLY arguing that a chart in the westcomb 2013 retailer catalog with polartecs own numbers and charts are incorrect???

one way or the other the FACT remains that the alpha insulation is significantly less insulating than say primaloft ... according to polartec themselves

slow rainy day


Edited by bearbreeder on 03/08/2014 17:42:17 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/09/2014 16:27:58 MDT Print View

Just to say that that chart is not from Westcomb but is also published by others.
And the clo/oz for the first available Alpha was, I think, around 0,37 but Polartec said once that it would be available in both a range of weights ànd clo's.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: alpha on 03/09/2014 18:26:53 MDT Print View

No matter who published the chart, it shows the competitor "market leading synthetic insulation" to have a clo of 2.12. This is HIGHER than 800FP down and more than 2x higher than what was previously thought to be the market leader, Primaloft One with a clo of 0.92.

If that spec is correct, we need to find out what this new insulation is!

No matter at the end of the day, it is the design, construction and fit of the garment that determines its utility. Shell fabrics and insulators are of secondary importance though sometimes that's what we seem to focus on.