Polartec, a Milliken & Company brand, and premium creator of innovative and sustainable textile solutions, has announced the winners of the 2022 Polartec Apex Award.
The annual design award celebrates the brands and designers that push the boundaries to turn Polartec fabric technologies into inspiring products. The winning garments – selected from hundreds of entries based on skilled and creative uses of Polartec fabrics – exemplify the pinnacle of form and functionality across sport, lifestyle, and performance categories.
The winners of this year’s Polartec Apex Award highlight design solutions that emphasize versatility, sustainability, and convert classic traditions into modern concepts. The 2022 Polartec Apex Design Award winners are:
Berghaus MTN Guide MW Hoody – The MTN Guide MW Hoody is a performance mid-layer that manages the delicate balance of warmth, breathability, and moisture. By using different weights of Polartec® Power Grid™, the garment removes the bulk for a better fit and increased breathability in high heat areas. The addition of an innovative Polartec® Power Wool™ internal neck gaiter provides custom-tuned warmth that can be easily used with the hood up, down, or tuck it out of the way when not needed. Due to Polartec Power Wool’s unique bi-component construction, combining the properties of both natural and synthetic fibers, you get the ultimate in next-to-skin fabric performance.
Judges’ Verdict: Berghaus was thoughtful in its use of multiple Polartec® fabrics, both in terms of genre and weight.
Element x Millet – MXE – P EDGE FLEECE LTD PO and MXE – P FLEECE LTD PANT – An incredible convergence of design, inspiration, and upcycling innovation blends seamlessly between vintage Millet styling curated with deadstock Polartec® 200 Series Recycled Fleece and Element’s artistic touch blends in this cozy collection. Millet and Element’s teams breathed new life into leftover fabrics, creating a unique color-blocked look while providing unparalleled comfort and warmth. With greater resiliency, lightweight warmth and fast dry times, Polartec fleece remains the industry standard for outerwear performance since its inception in 1981. Judges Verdict: We loved the sustainability story through Element and Millet’s use of discarded fabrics.
Haglöfs L.I.M Z|T Sync 1 Mid Hood & L.I.M Z|T Sync 2 Mid Jacket – Built for super rugged conditions, the L.I.M Series Z|T is a truly synchronized layering system challenging the common perception of expedition gear. The versatile new approach to layering elevates the “less is more” wisdom, utilizing a combination of Polartec® Alpha®, Power Air™, and Power Dry® technologies. Through meticulous design and a selection of innovative Polartec fabrics, the pieces supply outstanding functionality when worn individually, but true ingenuity shines when they are combined, producing an average of 30% lower humidity within the layering system compared to that of conventional systems, according to Haglöfs. The result: reducing the feeling of being too hot or too cold and keeping body temperature stable through a wide range of activities and intensities. Judges’ Verdict: Haglöfs delivered an innovative concept made possible through the multiple use of Polartec® fabrics.
Houdini Pace Flow Houdi – Constructed of Polartec® Power Dry® – a superiorly advanced next-to-skin moisture management fabric – the super versatile Pace Flow Houdi offers high insulation, low weight and exceptional breathability. The open mesh fabric allows air to flow through and vent out any excess heat or moisture and when used in a layering system, will encapsulate a powerful layer of warm air – akin to the new generation of Polartec® Power Air™ fabrics – that provides an exceptional level of insulation and thermal efficiency to create the perfect microclimate for high pace activities.
Judges’ Verdict: Houdini is known for its strong sustainability credentials and has delivered outstanding results with this new, recycled Polartec® technology.
Indyeva Toga – An ideal blend of style and performance, this modern designed fleece tunic featuring Polartec® Thermal Pro® for core body warmth is highly durable and pill resistant. With technical fiber compositions that maintain a soft texture and air pockets for thermoregulation and breathability, Thermal Pro® advances fleece fashion with premium yarns for a cozy, resilient, and stylish finish. The thin and soft Toga tunic can be worn as an outer layer or an insulating intermediate layer under a shell without added bulk.
Judges’ Verdict: Indyeva’s unique application of Polartec® fabric also features attention to detail and undeniable style.
KUIU Wind Pro Fleece Full Zip – Dead quiet, low-sheen, and highly wind resistant, the first-of-its-kind printed Polartec® Wind Pro® fleece hunting jacket is versatile as an early-season outer layer or as a late-season mid-layer that achieves high-level protection without a noisy windproof membrane, ensuring unrestricted breathability for maximum comfort. Engineered with a compact knit surface structure for up to 4x greater wind resistance than regular synthetic fleece, Wind Pro adds brawn to deflect the elements while still maintaining soft comfort and lightweight warmth.
Judges’ Verdict: Kuiu presented us with a challenge that led to innovative results for both brands.
Moncler Grenoble Peyrus Hooded Jacket & Shorts – Designed for an active lifestyle in a retro inspired mountaineering silhouette, this ripstop hooded jacket & shorts are made with a wind-proof lining and hydrophobic Polartec® Alpha® that regulates warmth and provides exceptional breathability. Alpha continuously releases excess body heat before it builds – an adaptive quality that is made possible through Alpha’s lofted fibers connected to a solid mesh core. This active insulation resists all moisture, is incredibly fast drying, and highly compressible, making it the ideal piece for on and off the mountain.
Judges’ Verdict: Moncler Grenoble’s Peyrus Hooded Jacket and Shorts offer technical excellence for outdoor adventures with their exceptional breathability.
Nonnative Dweller Cardigan Poly Fleece – Reimagining the esteemed cardigan silhouette as a high performing technical garment, utilizing Polartec® Alpha® Direct fabric providing warmth while continuously releasing excess body temperature to maintain comfort and coziness. Alpha Direct active insulation technology allows for direct contact with skin and other fabric layers due to the refining of the shape and size of its lofted fibers – this new design ability not only increases breathability performance but expands versatile style options. Japanese label, Nonnative, has gained a following for its fresh takes on traditional American workwear, upgrading them with contemporary fabrications to blend practicality and style – an approach that gained attention through this inventive utilization of Alpha Direct.
Judges’ Verdict: Nonnative’s cardigan is on-trend and features high performance fabric – the perfect combination.
Pearl Izumi Pro Alpha Layer– Designed for cyclists, this innovative midlayer featuring Polartec® Alpha® Direct fabric transfers moisture with breakaway speed, keeping riders dry and comfortable throughout a wide temperature range in an extremely lightweight, packable, insulative, and thermoregulating garment with unparalleled breathability and drying times. By refining the shape and size of its lofted fibers, Alpha® Direct active insulation continuously releases excess body heat before it builds to cause saturation and discomfort, and being hydrophobic, it resists moisture and dries incredibly fast for unparalleled performance and versatility.
Judges’ Verdict: We were impressed by Pearl Izumi’s focus on versatility through clever use of fabric for year-round appeal.
Santini Alpha Pack Vest – A revolutionary new garment designed for gravel cyclists seeking protection from cold and wind, the pack vest combines a unique version of Polartec® Alpha® with Wool for superb moisture management properties and natural thermoregulation. Alpha active insulation is engineered for consistent warmth while allowing for greater breathability and fast drying during activity, and maintains a highly packable, low-weight structure – all critical benefits for year-round, all-weather cyclists.
Judges’ Verdict: Santini has successfully adopted this new Polartec® technology to create an on-trend garment for gravel cyclists around the world.
SCARPA Ribelle Run Kalibra G – Applied for the first time to a trail running shoe, Polartec® Windbloc® provides water resistant, breathable, and comfortable protection for seriously gnarly conditions in the Ribelle Run Kalibra G trail shoe. Designed for mixed terrain and extreme conditions, the shoe’s gaiter is constructed of a unique Polartec polyurethane membrane that defends against the harshest elements of wind, water, and cold temperatures, while still allowing moisture vapor to permeate outside for maximum comfort and breathability.
Judges’ Verdict: Scarpa’s developed an impressive trail running shoe. A world-first and genius pairing of Polartec® technology for high performance.
Thrudark Centurion Alpine Jacket – A versatile technical softshell jacket incorporating a unique combination of two Polartec powered fabrics and one enhancing technology. Designed as a midlayer for advanced technical pursuits, the Centurion Alpine Jacket is forged with Polartec® Hardface® technology, fused at the fiber level to increase abrasion resistance and water repellency without compromising breathability. In addition to the bomb-proof exterior, it also includes Polartec® Power Stretch® for ease of movement and Polartec® Power Air ™, capturing air to retain body heat in cool environments. Designed as the ultimate all-mountain piece, the Jacket is perfectly suited for a diverse range of outdoor disciplines.
Judges’ Verdict: ThruDark’s tried and tested Centurion Alpine Jacket uses multiple, sustainable Polartec fabrics to create a jacket that will withstand extreme use.
Every Apex Awards winner is an embodiment of Polartec fabric innovation and design inspiration, celebrating the science of fabric and the art of product design. Each winner will receive a coveted Malden Wizard trophy in celebration of their winning designs, in addition to joint marketing support. The Apex Awards also feature a “People’s Choice” contender – voted on by the public via Polartec social media platforms – and will be announced in the coming weeks.
Header image: Thrudark Centurion Alpine Jacket.