Columbia says that bare skin is no longer the coolest option on hot humid days. The company’s newest creation, clothes made with Omni-Freeze ZERO, is, they claim, even cooler.
ZERO has circles of a sweat-absorbing polymer that swell and turn blue like tiny ice packs when you start to drip. The mechanical reaction (not chemical, as in cooling fabrics that use minty xylitol to provide a chill) sucks heat away from your body as well as moisture. By the Outdoor Retailer show, test results should be in, showing whether or not the cooling properties of ZERO quantifiably enhance athlete performance.
Columbia won't be showing its new Omni-Freeze ZERO until the show in Salt Lake City in August, but we got our hands on an early test sample, and we can confirm that the Freeze Degree shirt is great at the gym or on a run. It feels cool, not clammy, against the skin. And it protects you from sun better than your skin can—it has SPF 50. $60; available spring 2013; columbia.com.