The Insulation Revolution: A Closer Look at The North Face ThermoBall™ Technology

You know that a brand is on to something when they call their key technology a ‘revolution’.

Thermoball™ started life as an answer to an age old problem;

Down fibres - exceptionally warm but restricted by an inability to perform when wet.

Synthetic fibres - water resistant, but suffer from a bulky construction and heavy form making them hard to compress.

Never deterred in finding a solution, The North Face teamed up with the insulation experts over at PrimaLoft® to innovate the answer. Thermoball™ was born.

Providing ultra-light warmth in all conditions since its creation in 2011, Thermoball™ offers a breakthrough alternative to traditional down and synthetic insulation, offering low-weight, loft and warmth of traditional down, with the wet-weather performance of a synthetic.

For decades, outdoorsmen were faced with a quizzing dilemma. Whilst natural goose down was the most desirable insulation for winter jackets, and boasted great breathability that was still unmatched by any synthetic offering, down’s greatest shortfall was its inability to withstand even a lighter rain shower.

The choice was between a synthetic that was bulky and heavy, but with better water-resistance, or a soggy down in wet conditions. That is until ThermoBall™ came along.

ThermoBall™ was developed at the specific request of world-renowned mountaineer and one of The North Face’s pro athletes, Conrad Anker, after a failed attempt to summit Mount Meru in the Himalayas.

His request was for a better synthetic to help him on his next attempt at Meru. The team at The North Face’s materials lab went to work, and after 2 years and a large battery of tests challenging everything from odour retention to putting its hydrophobic coating through its paces, the ThermoBall™ was sent to their athletes for real world feedback.

It passed with flying colours.

The solution came in the form of small, round PrimaLoft® synthetic clusters, (each about 5mm in diameter). Closely mimicking down clusters, and unlike traditional continuous filament synthetic insulation, Thermoball® traps heat within smaller air pockets, or baffles, sewn into the garment to retain warmth. However, unlike down, the synthetic fibre doesn’t get wet and therefore doesn’t lose its loft.

This revolutionary solution allows you to enjoy the same amounts of warmth expected of a traditional down garment, with the lighter weight anticipated from synthetic clothing.

And whilst it was designed for elite athletes, The North Face’s ThermoBall™ stands up to any challenge. It performs in any condition; in any environment. From brisk Autumn mornings, to alpine tempests, and relaxed days out. Whatever your adventure, event or occasion, the ThermoBall™ is the perfect garment.

Shop ThermoBall™

Have you tested the ThermoBall™ range? Let us know what you think via the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages now.

When not creating content for the Blacks Blog and perpetually daydreaming about everything outdoors, Leonie enjoys heading down unbeaten paths and journeying to destinations less travelled.

She has traversed volcanoes in Northern Chile, explored local cuisine in remote Korean Buddhist temples, and rambled along some of Britain’s most classic trails. If the season’s right, Leonie can be found foraging in the local flora and fauna, and rustling up delicious meals from her latest find.

Favourite British Location: Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye

Most Interesting Trek: Salkantay Trek, Peru

Couldn’t Live Without: Packing Cubes

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