Helly Hansen expanded the use of its Lifa fiber to combine a waterproof-breathable membrane and face fabric that is completely free of chemical additives. And the tech’s one-two punch of performance and sustainability shines through in the Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket.
This new technology without added chemicals begins in the underlying textiles. Helly Hansen’s Lifa fibers are inherently hydrophobic, imbuing those properties directly into the face fabric. This jacket material requires less maintenance and even shows promise of a longer lifespan.
“One great benefit will be the convenience of not having to reproof the garment after washing it,” Philip Tavell, category managing director for Helly Hansen, told us. “You won’t have to tumble dry [the jacket] to reactivate the DWR since there is none.”
Helly Hansen’s design team also said that by removing the traditional durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, the Lifa Infinity Pro jackets will be less vulnerable to abrasion from backpacks and everyday wear when compared to traditional shells.
Beyond the more sustainable design, what does this tech mean for the consumer?
Tavell said they can expect a “highly breathable — the microporous membrane is only 4 g — and a waterproof garment that performs at the top of the class.”
Because buying a ski shell is an investment, Helly Hansen is betting consumers will factor in longevity and a lack of anxiety-inducing maintenance into their decisions.
As for the design itself, the highlight jacket is the Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket.
Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket
The Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket uses the innovative technology in a design built for backcountry ski touring. The design team incorporated feedback from its ski professionals while building Helly Hansen’s bestselling Odin 9 Worlds Jacket. It applied these updates to the Odin Mountain Infinity Shell.
“The aim is to create a lighter piece in comparison to our freeride style with the same tech,” Tavell said. “Shorter length if you need to use a harness for glacier crossing or other sketchy sections, seams and pockets are placed to accommodate backpack use, and we integrated a small ski pass pocket for those who want some ‘easy’ vertical meters by taking the lift.”
Designers also added a removable, low-profile powder skirt and big front pockets with double pullers for pocket and vent accessibility while wearing a backpack.
Additionally, Helly uses the new tech in the Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket. It’s part of the ULLR collection and built for freeride skiers. Like its ULLR siblings, it has a hi-visibility hood brim and a Life Pocket to keep phones operational on the mountain.
What Makes the Lifa Infinity Pro Technology Stand Out?
Helly Hansen introduced Lifa fabric technology in the ’70s — in what the brand says was the world’s first technical base layer— to wick moisture from the skin while retaining body heat. The brand now incorporates Lifa in its base layers, wool pieces, and outerwear.
Traditional DWR coatings cover the fabric and can wear down from repeated rubbing or folding. “The whole textile industry is trying to find a more sustainable way to create waterproof-breathable garments without soon-to-be banned DWR treatments,” Tavell told us. To avoid this, Helly Hansen’s new technology incorporates Lifa’s existing hydrophobic traits into a hardshell face fabric.
After repeated trial and error, the brand made a membrane with a face fabric completely free of harsh treatments or solvents. Instead, Helly Hansen uses heating and stretching of the membrane to make it breathable while still retaining the waterproofness and improving durability. This also removes the need for and use of chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
The brand explained that this is one step in an ongoing journey. A leader in innovation, Helly Hansen continues to test new technology and processes to eliminate harmful chemicals. You can see the tech in action as Helly introduces the Infinity fabric technology in new snowsport styles here.