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Polar-approved gear

Swatches | May 1, 2020 | By:

Merino wool provides protection against brutal winter conditions, enabling polar explorers to stay warm and dry with the mobility they need to keep going. Photos: Dan Pernard Photography.

Imagine what it takes to survive skiing 1,426 miles across the Arctic in the winter while battling -58° F temperatures and hurricane force winds. Alex Hibbert, George Bullard and James Wheeldon are preparing for such a trip. The British polar explorers will spend six months traversing the earth’s northern cap unassisted on an environmental exploration to learn how microplastics behave in the water, snow and ice of the dark Arctic depths. 

Dubbed Dark Ice Project, the expedition will begin by boat and be followed by eight- to ten-hour days of skiing for upwards of 70 days. The goal is to reach the geographical North Pole by March 2021. 

For an expedition like this, the right clothing is critical, so the explorers worked with an expert team in technical performance fabrics that included The Woolmark Company, adidas® Terrex, BYBORRE and GORE-TEX®.

The Woolmark Company and textile innovation studio BYBORRE developed a base-layer and mid-layer system using Merino wool. Chosen because it’s lightweight, breathable and comfortable, merino wool also provides water and wind resistance and warmth. It’s also 100 percent natural, renewable and biodegradable. 

The outerwear was developed by adidas Terrex in collaboration with BYBORRE, supported by The Woolmark Company and GORE-TEX. It includes GORE-TEX weather protection technology, along with a wool fleece lining in the trousers and jackets for enhanced thermoregulation.

The gear was tested in the lab and in extreme weather situations in northern Canada. The wool single jersey base layer outperformed a single jersey base layer previously worn by the explorers while obtaining an 18 percent weight reduction, an increase in thermal resistance of 26 percent and a 3 percent increase in breathability. In addition, the dry time and drying rate improved by 28 percent and 61 percent respectively. For more information, visit

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