It's really hard to imagine that clothing can get much better than it is now, but new stuff does keep popping up. For example, long underwear that makes you perform better, not just feel better. At least that's the claim of Holofiber Fabrics, which is billed as a material that enhances oxygen delivery to muscles. I admit, I'm skeptical. But Holofiber has tested the stuff intensively, and it'll soon be available in clothing from Sierra Designs and Eastern Mountain Sports.
Elsewhere, Mountain Hardwear introduced its latest rainwear made with Gore's PacLite. The Swift Jacket ($260; www.mountainhardwear.com) weighs in at only 13 ounces, the Swift Pant ($180) at ten. Malden Mills, maker of Polartec, is now marketing its own waterproof-breathable fabric, called Aqua Shell, that is aimed at the middle range of the rainwear market. Not quite so new but worth mentioning is the Polartec Power Dry with antimicrobial X-Static woven into the material. It's being used by InSport and other companies as a light base layer. Women will enjoy ContourWear's surprisingly fashionable yet technical Zip-Off Hiking Pants ($156) made with super-durable, fast-drying Schoeller fabric.
At the show, Merrell introduced a top-to-bottom revamp of its footwear line, including several light- to mid-weight hiking boots like the crampon-compatible Expedition, which has a specially designed Vibram sole and carbon-fiber shank ($250; www.merrell.com). Montrail, meanwhile, looks for big things from the new Blue Ridge GT ($175; www.montrail.com), which has stretchy Gore-Tex in the forefoot for a better fit. It's designed for off-trail hiking and backpacking. And Lowa showed new models of boot using the award-winning ankle-supporting Biomex system, including its Vertex Mesh Lady, a women's boot that will sell for $200 (www.lowaboots.com).