thermal heat fuels incredible feats

Thermal gear is hotter than ever — but you’ll never guess what’s coming next.

Thermal gear is hotter than ever — but you’ll never guess what’s coming next.


FueledBy has examined innovations in synthetic, water-resistant fibers. Now, let’s take a minute to appreciate the ways we put petroleum to work to keep us warm so we can live our best, most-adventurous and safest lives by producing vital thermal heat through phenomenal synthetic means. It all starts with you. Your body is the main heat source. You emit heat and then your thermal gear — outerwear and under garments alike — starts to do its thing. Synthetic materials, such as neoprene and fleece, are used to make all kinds of thermal clothing — hats, gloves, shirts, boots and coats — because petroleum-based materials keep air close to your skin more efficiently, so that once your body heats up, a gust of wind doesn’t blow the warmth away. An extra bonus is the rate at which your body heat escapes into the cool outside air is significantly slowed down when wearing thermal gear. It also tends to be lighter and more durable, which is key for layering in cold weather while still living an active lifestyle.


As far as the lighter and more durable qualities of thermal gear, proprietary petroleum-based synthetic fabrics have rocketed past simple polyester blends (technology dating back to the 1950s). And due to the incredibly low moisture-retention rates, they continue to outperform cotton and wool.

In the clothing industry, thermal can mean a lot of different things, but it mostly points to a technique of stitching together two layers comprised solely of artificial fibers. The layers trap your body heat to insulate against cold air. Warmth is also achieved through a process called wicking, which stymies evaporative cooling. Thermal fabrics wick — or draw — sweat away from your skin, decreasing the evaporation of the moisture that makes you cold. Modern acrylics have insanely good wicking properties.


Petroleum-based thermal gear is so essential, state-of-the-art and malleable that it has helped fuel a family who’s living a free-spirited van life, emboldened an ADV motorcyclist who grits his teeth in the face of the elements, protected a professional photographer driven by relentless wanderlust and constructed a convertible sleeping bag that’s changing and saving lives.

Thermal gear is functionally, fashionably — and somewhat ironically — very cool.