Recently I had the pleasure of talking with IDI (Inovative Design, Inc) Gear's VP of sales, Greg Domian. It did not take a keen ear to pick up on his enthusiasm for their product, which has at its core the material Insultex. Insultex was created by a gentleman in Korea and licensed to IDI's CEO, Joseph Riccelli, who has exclusive rights to sell the material for the next 40 years. Innovative Designs, Inc, which was formed in 2002, is a publicly traded company - IVDN.OB on NASDAQ.
With triple digit growth over the last two years fueling their surge into 2007, i.d.i is planning on expanding their line and focusing especially on bowhunters!
Basics The IDI Gear line is all about the material Insultex. They use Insultex in a variety of designs to accommodate many cold-weather hunting situations. IDI also designs gear for other uses such as fishing, survival, sleeping bags and hiking/climbing.
Insultex is advertised as the lightest, thinnest and warmest material available. It is structured with tiny micro-sized air cells that trap air and hold it providing a superior insulating layer. Air is an excellent insulator. The key to Insultex is its ability to reflect the body's radiant heat back to the individual while one-way moisture wicking material tubes allow moisture to escape. The tubes are one-way in that they allow moisture to escape but not enter, which creates a 100% waterproof and buoyant material. Another benefit of Insultex is that it is also 100% windproof.
One layer of Insultex is advertised to protect the wearer down to -13 degrees F and is only .021" thick. The result is a super insulator that is lightweight, thin and flexible. One square yard of Insultex weighs in at .42 oz. Another interesting fact is that 8.8 oz of Insultex will float approximately 287 pounds! Nice thought if you are ever dumped in the water this amazing product will float you!
Insultex was the chosen insulation of the 2002 U.S. and Canadian Winter Olympic Teams. It was also selected by the 2006 U.S. Olympic team as their official cold-weather gear.
Testing To begin the testing I inspected the two garments received from i.d.i. Gear, the Guide Shirt and the Full Zip Jacket. Both utilize only one layer of Insultex. Stitching on both was without any major flaws and there were no obvious material blemishes inside or out.
Field testing the Guide Shirt and Jacket was not an easy task. Why? Because it didn't get cold enough to really challenge it. While on my Idaho elk hunt the temps only dipped into the 30s. I could not wear either garment for more than 100 yards of walking before becoming totally drenched in sweat. Just hanging out around camp it was perfect, not too warm and not too cold.
Back in Pennsylvania we hit the 20's on several occasions during the archery season. Again, it was nowhere near cold enough to be active in the material but sitting motionless was better. I should note here that it takes quite a bit to keep me warm and a single layer with only a cotton shirt underneath was not enough to keep me totally comfortable at 24 degrees F.
It was another story with both garments on. I was again completely comfortable. Another point to be made is that wind had no effect on my comfort whatsoever. Insultex is truly 100% windproof!
Since Insultex is advertised as a one-way moisture wicking fabric I tested it for water flow. Basically a puddle of water was held within a piece of the fabric that was formed into a cup shape. From the outside no water passed through to the inside, however, in reverse, inside out, the water slowly found its way through. Basically this means that in super cold temps the moisture from your body sweating will wick out quickly enough to keep you dry. If the temps are too warm you will certainly feel the inside of the garment become wet.
Probably the most impressive feature of Insultex is how warm it can keep you with so little material. When you first put it on you will not believe that it could possibly keep you warm in extremely cold temperatures.
In conclusion it is a fair statement that Insultex is an amazing insulator that will keep you warm in super cold temps. If used actively in temperatures that are too warm the material will not allow your body's moisture to escape quickly enough. I wear the Guide Shirt as a winter jacket for everyday activities. It takes the place of my old winter jacket that is heavy and bulky.
A follow up (part II) report will be added to this one when the temperatures drop to below zero and I have a double insulated parka to test. Also, look for testing of the Tom Nelson Bowhunting line when it comes out early next year.