The secret to the perfect synthetic thread? Coconut charcoal

Salomon S-Lab Exo Tank

In recent years, some of the biggest breakthroughs in terms of outdoor performance apparel have come in the way of the technical fabrics that are used to make those garments. Some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry – including Columbia, The North Face, and Patagonia – have spent millions of dollars researching new and more efficient ways to keep us comfortable while wearing their clothes in the outdoors. Most of that research has been dedicated to finding materials that can wick moisture away from the body while working to maintain a comfortable temperature. But a company called 37.5 is taking a novel approach to this same challenge, creating fabrics that function a bit differently from the competition, resulting in better overall performance, even in extreme conditions.

A background in science

37.5’s story starts with its Founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Greg Haggquist, who previously worked as a polymer photo physical chemist with Lexmark International. While there, he studied how combining materials with polymers could enhance their characteristics in a variety of ways, including odor-elimination in fabrics. By adding active carbons or charcoals to the mix, he observed through testing that those same fabrics also dried incredibly quickly too. It was then that he realized that he was on to something big.

But Haggquist didn’t just develop a charcoal coating that could be applied to a garment to provide the quick-drying, odor-fighting capabilities that he was looking for. Instead, he found a way to add the active carbon molecules on the fiber level of the fabrics used to make sports apparel. This made the performance properties of those articles of clothing more permanent, which ran counter to some of the similar fabrics developed by other brands, most of which lost their wicking capabilities over time.

How does it work?

During his research, Haggquist learned that the best body temperature for optimal athletic performance is 37.5 degrees Celsius, which equates to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. His goal was to help athletes to maintain that core temperature, warming them in cooler conditions, and cooling them down as they started to overheat. It was then that he discovered that activated carbon extracted from coconut shells was perfect for maintaining that temperature level, and thus his company Cocona – which later rebranded to 37.5 technology – was born.

“To get that kind of increase in efficiency just by changing your shirt fabric is unprecedented.”

So just how does the 37.5 fabrics outperform the competition? Well for starters, the materials used to make the products are much better at maintaining the body’s microclimate that sits on – and just above – the surface of the skin. Temperature and humidity are the defining factors that give that microclimate its characteristics, but by removing the moisture as quickly as possible, these fabrics can help the wearer stay warmer in the cold, and cooler in the heat. This is because garments made from 37.5 materials dry up to five times faster than other performance apparel, greatly improving comfort as a result, and reducing the “wet cling” that many athletes experience when their clothing gets soaked through.

“37.5 technology gives an instant continuous response to your body’s needs, warming or cooling on demand,” Haggquist told Digital Trends. “The 37.5 particles respond directly to the human engine—when you start to build up heat, 37.5 technology starts to work immediately delaying the formation of liquid, reducing your core temperature buildup, expanding your comfort range, and increasing your performance.” He goes on to add, “When you start to cool down too much, 37.5 fabrics return your energy to you, warming you up as a reset. No other technology addresses your thermal needs like 37.5 fabrics do.”

Because of these properties, 37.5 fabrics are now used by a number of well known brands, including Salomonadidas, Under Armour, Mission, Carhartt, and many others. The products derived from the 37.5 technology are popular with endurance athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure travelers alike, in no small part because of the level of performance they deliver. But which brand delivered something that even Haggquist didn’t expect? “Tommy Bahama blew me away when they combined 37.5 technology with silk. They changed the silk shirt into something words cannot describe. It is my favorite shirt with 37.5 technology over the past 16 years,” he says. “The comfort range is incredible. Ultra-endurance runners have even worn the shirt during extended runs to see how well it works. I would never have thought of running long distance in a silk shirt before.”

That performance was further quantified in an independent study conducted by the University of Colorado this past summer. That’s when a team of research from the university revealed the results of a study entitled “Beneficial Effects of Cooling during Constant Power Non-steady State Cycling.” Their data showed that apparel made with the 37.5 fabrics not only dried exceptionally fast, but resulted in higher performance out of the athletes who wore them too. In some cases, the difference was astounding, with some of the cyclists who took part in the study showing a 26 percent increase in performance simply by wearing 37.5 gear.

“When we see data that shows you can improve an athlete’s performance by 26% at their lactate threshold, it’s pretty remarkable, ” Haggquist said about the study. He went on to add, “To get that kind of increase in efficiency just by changing your shirt fabric is unprecedented.”

Benefits for everyone

Most of us are not endurance athletes, professional cyclists, or world-class runners of course, so we’re not likely to ever see a 26 percent increase in performance thanks to 37.5 clothing alone. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from wearing products that use the company’s technology. After all, all of us like to be as comfortable as possible when we’re outdoors, no matter what activity we’re taking part in. And if our clothing can help us to achieve that goal, who wouldn’t want to have some of that apparel in their closet?

“Wearing or using the product is believing,” Haggquist says emphatically. “Casual users can enjoy activities longer because of the extended comfort range in different environments and at different activity levels,” he goes on to explain. “Now as we enter workwear, public safety, sportswear and suiting, consumers are experiencing a new level of comfort in what has traditionally been uncomfortable clothing.”

Speaking from experience, I can honestly say I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that the 37.5 technology works. I’ve been wearing several articles of clothing made from the fabrics for a few months now, and can attest to just how well they perform. My wardrobe of 37.5 gear includes a Carhartt Force Extremes t-shirt, a Merino + 120 t-shirt from Rab, and an adidas Terrex Swift jacket as well. All three have accompanied me on trips to remote parts of the planet, and each has helped me to stay comfortable even when traveling in less than ideal conditions. In fact, these garments have become some of my favorites for use both at home and while on the road, and I usually find that they are amongst the first items I pack before setting out on a trip.

Despite how well these fabrics work, 37.5 isn’t resting on its laurels. Haggquist tells us, “There are some really exciting developments we have in the pipeline that I cannot talk about—both in brands that you would never expect to use technology and in new inventions – that will change the way you think about your everyday clothing.”

Whether you’re a trail runner, frequent hiker, or just someone who works outside regularly, chances are you can benefit from apparel made with the 37.5 fabrics. Performance apparel is something that we can all appreciate, even if we’re not taking part in “constant power non-steady state cycling.”

“My mission is to make you forget about wearing clothes, I won’t stop until your favorite garments, shoes, bedding and towels all have 37.5 in them,” Haggquist says. And we believe him.

Find out more about the benefits that 37.5 can deliver at ThirtySevenFive.com.

Home Theater

Netflix paid $100M to keep ‘Friends,’ but viewers may pay the highest price

Netflix reportedly paid $100 million to keep '90s sitcom Friends on its service for another year, but the cost consumers might have to pay for access to their favorite shows and movies down the road could be much, much higher.
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Digital Trends Live

CEO of shoe startup OB/VS talks about exploration-focused footwear

Today we had the founder of OB/VS Kelly Dachtler to talk about why he wanted to start a footwear company, what makes the shoes his firm manufactures unique, and what future products are in store.
Computing

Having enough RAM is important, but stick to these guidelines to save some money

Although not quite as exciting as processors and graphics cards, RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC. Not having enough can hurt performance. So, how much RAM do you need?
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Outdoors

Onak 2.0 is an origami-inspired folding canoe for waterborne adventures

The Onak 2.0 is an origami-inspired folding kayak that measures 15 feet in length when fully assembled, yet can breakdown and be stored in a small, easily transported box making it a great option for apartment dwellers.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Outdoors

Lime’s dockless electric bikes land in London, but its scooters aren’t allowed

Lime has landed in London with its dockless bikesharing service. The pedal-assisted electric bikes are unlocked via Lime's app and can reach speeds of 15 mph. It plans to have 1,000 bikes on the streets before the end of the year.
Outdoors

Forget pumps. This innovative filter purifies H2O in 8 seconds flat

The Grayl Geopress water purification system removes more than 99 percent of all bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water in just eight seconds, providing clean drinking water to travelers and outdoor adventurers.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Outdoors

Crush your next workout with the best Fitbit for every activity

Fitbits are amazingly helpful tools for setting fitness goals and tracking progress. However, different activities require different metrics. We've gathered a list of the best Fitbits for running, swimming, biking, and other activities.
Smart Home

Tired of running outdoors? Check out the best treadmills of 2018

Running can burn up to 900 calories per hour, melting away fat and strengthening your muscles.  Compared to running outdoors, you're safer staying indoors on a cushioned track. We've rounded up the best treadmills on the market
Outdoors

Need gift ideas? Here’s what to get the skiers and snowboarders in your life

You can't purchase snow, but you can grab your favorite skier or snowboarder some sweet gear this holiday season. We've hand-picked some of the best available that'll wow even the most well-equipped terrain park junkie we know.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.