Versatile clothing a real catch for anglers, outdoorsmen

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Fishing vests, with all those pockets, are a fisherman's dream, assuming all the pockets are in the right place and open on demand.

Standing midstream and trying to reach for a box of dry flies when the pocket is helter-skelter and the zipper is stuck can be frustrating to say the least.

Which is why Bill Roen, president of Alaska Down and Leather, turned his expertise in the field of travel vests to fishing vests.

''It's a simple matter of putting pockets and rings where they're convenient,'' he said, ''and designing features that are functional ... like no-skid patches on the shoulders and rings on the side for a net and zippers on pockets that work both ways.''

Alaska Down and Leather is most famous for its travel vests, which resemble fishing vests, except the pockets are made for passports, glasses, film and maps.

''You want everything close and safe. The inside pocket, for example, zips to the inside. It's much more difficult for someone to reach in and open the pocket this way,'' he recently reported at the Outdoor Retailers winter show in Salt Lake City, which is where manufacturers introduce new products.

''You also want the vest to be comfortable and with lots of ventilation.''

Popular right now are smaller fishing vests in kid's sizes.

Roen also introduced a six-layer parka, made for very cold conditions, like standing out in the middle of a fly fishing river during a snowstorm.

Roen's clothing, of course, was not alone in this area of new products.

The buzz words in clothing this year were identical to those last year that is, breathable, lightweight, water resistant, compressible.

New, space-age products make it possible to produce a fabric that accomplishes all of the above. The new technology used by Outlast for its clothing was developed for NASA. The technology is complicated, but the concept is simple.

As heat builds up, it is stored in the fabric, away from the skin. As the activity level drops and the body begins to cool, the stored heat is released back toward the body. The cycle is continuous, automatic and natural.

Thus, the body's natural tendency to reach an equilibrium -- either releasing heat by perspiring or generating heat by shivering -- is aided by the fabric.

DuPont performed a study with its product called Thermolite. It found athletes who worked out in the material stayed warmer, that wearing the lighter product gave athletes a feeling they didn't need to exert as much energy during a workout and that they felt more comfortable.

Boulder Gear-Sport USA focused on new ''smart construction'' for its clothing. It works by using ''insulations and linings that have specific characteristics: loft, warmth, flexibility, compression resistance and moisture management, meaning moisture escapes but heat is kept in.

Chasm Outdoor Wear has a fleece that has been treated with Moist X technology, which simply wicks moisture away from the skin. Translation: People stay warmer in the pursuit of their favorite wintertime activity.

Patagonia and DuPont teamed up to introduce the Regulator Soft Shell system. It is described as a collection of base layers that offer protection without weight.

Bottom line is that new products on the market next year will offer wearers convenience, comfort and warmth.


(Distributed by The Associated Press)


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