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When you talk about outdoor giants, Mountain Hardwear is at the top of the peak with the best of them. They’ve been a premier innovator in the space since 1993, coming after the likes of other well-established North American outdoor brands. And although they were the fresh face, they were more than seasoned in the business. The founding members were a small band of outdoor industry iconoclasts coming from Sierra Designs, who started Mountain Hardwear because they wanted to get back to their performance roots. From that point, it was the beginning of a new era of outdoor adventure.
Mountain Hardwear was all about technical equipment in its early years, attracting core campers and hikers with high-quality tents and climbing gear. As the new kids on the block, they were scrappy and playful, full of creativity, and looking to shake up the game. When they began discussing how to achieve quality technical apparel, founding member Paul Kramer, who was very familiar with the makers of original fleece, made it known that he wanted Polartec fabrics to power Mountain Hardwear’s collections - The start of a partnership that now spans over two decades.
Polartec welcomed Mountain Hardwear with open arms primarily because they made each other better. Kramer and his team stayed close with the Polartec R&D department to create a culture of creative collaboration and innovation. The teams pushed the limits of what was possible through garment design, construction, and materials - initiating so many “never been done” projects throughout the years. With Kramer at the helm and Polartec ready to listen, Mountain Hardwear moved the outdoor apparel industry forward with his one-of-a-kind vision.
Mountain Hardwear would go on to adopt nearly every Polartec innovation as they released, constantly fine-tuning the material to match the needs of hardcore adventurers. The partnership spawned a new wave of climbing and mountaineering pieces that defined an era in the new millennium.
Climbers in the early 2000s will remember wearing The Poodle (Polartec® High Loft™) high pile fleece designed for women, or the Nailhead (Polartec® Thermal Pro®) for cold excursions, and even the Ozone (Polartec® Wind Pro®) for all-weather performance. But nothing was more iconic, legendary, and dependable than the Monkey Man jacket, now called the Polartec® High Loft™ jacket.
The Polartec® High Loft™ Jacket defined the 2nd wave of outdoor adventure. It became a uniform for climbers, dirtbags, and outdoor folks looking to stray away from the norm and find a new identifier of “true adventurer”. Polartec has worked closely with Mountain Hardwear since the jacket’s launch to continually develop and evolve High Loft fabric so that it’s higher quality, made with recycled contents, and fit for modern styles. The jacket is a testament to the innovation-focused partnership that continues to this day with a new collection released for this season.
The updated High Loft jacket returns for Mountain Hardwear’s Fall/Winter ‘21 collection. And if you can believe it, it’s softer, warmer, and lighter than ever. Polartec® High Loft™ fleece takes insulation to the next level by maximizing the warmth-to-weight ratio, allowing it to be extremely compressible and highly breathable.
The new collection also features a line of Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro™ products. This fabric was a key fleece in Mountain Hardwear’s history because there was nothing like it. Its warm, plush, moisture-wicking interior combined with a smooth, durable, and abrasion-resistant exterior made it a real must-have for Mountain Hardwear athletes. Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro™ has been used consistently in their line for years and returns for Fall/Winter ‘21 in a ¼ zip, Full Zip, Jogger, and Tights for men and women.
So what’s next for Mountain Hardwear and Polartec? Moving forward, Mountain Hardwear’s future looks toward sustainability without losing performance - and Polartec, the premium provider of sustainable fabrics, is the key to achieving this goal. So you can expect more collections focused on environmental impact coming as soon as next season.
“The history of innovation and collaboration between Polartec and Mountain Hardwear is long and full of examples of unique solutions for outdoor consumers,” said Christopher Curtis, Senior Product Manager at Mountain Hardwear. “We look forward to continuing that partnership and putting additional focus on the sustainability aspects of our innovations. Technical solutions for consumers that offer recycled and bluesign® materials, as well as reduced fiber shedding. Our customers demand both performance and sustainability and Polartec is a great partner to help us deliver on this.”