Turning sweat into a renewable resource with Omni-Freeze Zero gear technology – and a sweet, sweet neck gaiter.

A fan of thrifty scores and budget-friendly gear, it’s quite difficult for a brand to get me truly hyped on so-called innovations. I feel like I’ve heard it all, and I’ve never been a believer – until now.

The first two days of my Arizona adventure with Columbia Sportswear and the OmniTen team revolved around a fabulous industry event designed to preview the upcoming Spring 2013 line and unveil Columbia’s latest (and greatest) innovation: OmniFreeze Zero.

Since recruiting me onto their inaugural OmniTen team, Columbia Sportswear has wooed me with a range of excellent outdoor apparel. The Omni-Wick Evap feature in my Compounder Dry Shell has kept me dry through Floridian rainstorms; the Omni-Grip in my PeakFreak trail shoes quickly became a standard for my hikes and climbing approaches; and the Omni-Heat Reflective fabric in my new sleeping bag offers undeniably optimized warmth – but none compare to my adoration for the new OmniFreeze Zero products.

So how does it work?

First, check out the video.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNfLu3qfJUQ]

One of the first things you’ll notice about apparel infused with Omni-Freeze technology is the pattern of little raised blue rings on the inside of the fabric. These small circles use cooling polymer to create a noticeable cooling sensation when exposed to sweat and moisture. And it works.

In the spirit of Trying Things, Columbia Sportswear armed me with a variety of Omni-Freeze Zero products to put to the test during our three-day hike to Havasu Falls through the Grand Canyon. I received two performance short sleeved shirts (you can get a sneak peek of the mens’ version here), the Trail Dryer hat (a triple whammy with Omni-Shade UPF 40 sun protection, Omni-Wick evaporation, AND Omni-Freeze sweat activated cooling technology), and my personal favorite, the Freezer Zero neck gaiter.

During grueling hike to and from Havasu Falls in Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon, temperatures reached over 100 degrees, and there was often no shade to be found. While both my hat and shirt contributed to keeping me cool during the scorching sections of the hike, it was my neck gaiter that acted as my true savior.

Rather than simply relying on my sweat, which I found to evaporate way too quickly in the dry Arizona air, I made a habit of keeping my gaiter wet with water from fresh streams or my hydration pack. It was unbelievably refreshing – and versatile. It served perfectly as a simple neck buff, but I really loved wearing it as a headband as well. Another great way to rock the gaiter is pulling it up over your ears and down your chin – it works great to keep dusty and sand out of your lungs. I’m accustomed to the humid air of the southeast, so pulling the moist, cool cloth over my mouth and nose acted as a great tool against the harsh dry conditions I was hiking in.

Seriously, get yourself the Freezer Zero Neck Gaiter.

You’ll have to wait until spring 2013 to get your hands on all the fabulous Omni-Freeze Zero gear,
but trust me, it’s worth the wait. 

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