Columbia Sportswear has recently announced plans to introduce athletic wear called Omni-Freeze Zero that claims to cool the user down as they sweat. The garments will contain rings of a water-absorbing polymer, similar to the one found in disposable diapers, sodium polyacrylate. As the wearer sweats it will cause the polymer to swell, increasing ventilation and the amount of surface area exposed to evaporative cooling (similar to an elephant’s wrinkles).
This differs from cooling methods involving sugars like xylitol, which produce a cooling effect while dissolved by water. Once dissolved, however, that cooling effect ceases. By leveraging the physics of evaporative cooling, Columbia might have succeeded in creating a shirt that keeps you cooler during your entire run.
It is expected to be released sometime in 2013. While I am excited to interact with it, I fear the garment care instructions for such a complicated shirt.
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