Is Under Armour "Infrared" technology effective?

Under Armour is a manufacturer of sports/active clothing. Their HeatGear claims to keep you cool and dry in the heat. Their ColdGear claims to keep you warm and dry in the cold. One of the technologies offered within their ColdGear line is “Infrared”. This is from their website:

ColdGear Infrared

ColdGear® Infrared doesn’t just make you warm, it keeps you warm…with no extra weight or bulk.

Soft, thermo-conductive coating inside absorbs and retains your own body heat.

Infrared imaging detects and pinpoints heat loss in insulation systems.

From their description, I can’t reconcile what method of heat transfer they’re trying to minimize. For example:

Conduction: Placing a medium with a low thermal conductivity, ie. insulation that creates pockets of (mostly) air, between the body and the environment.

Convection: Using zippers, cinches, wind resistant fabrics to minimize mixing of your warm air with the cold ambient air.

Radiation: Using a reflective surface to reflect and return heat that would normally be lost to the environment, ie. Mylar/“Space” blanket.

The Infrared technology seems conflicting.

A coating that “absorbs and retains” heat suggests an energy reserve. The effects would be negligible unless the coating has a high specific heat and/or mass. Besides, you would feel cold when initially putting on the jacket, since it’s absorbing heat.

“Conductive” is not a word usually reserved for effective insulation.

The clothing line is well reviewed when reading online blogs and retailers’ websites, but it’s hard to say if kickbacks and/or placebo effects are in play.

So, Under Armour ColdGear Infrared clothing line; effective technology or effective marketing?

My guess is that it’s probably marketing BS; it’s entirely likely that the same moisture wicking fabric is equally good at keeping a person from having sweat-related cooling in cold weather as the reverse in hot weather.

Essentially, if you remove sweat during the winter through a close-fitting garment with wicking properties, there’s no chance for evaporation, convection, etc… unlike cotton long johns, for example.

Seems to me that with that in mind, you could come up with some fairly effective long underwear, although I doubt Under Armor’s is any more effective than any other polypropylene long underwear in that regard. They just have slick marketing and a certain “cool” cachet among certain groups.

Whether it works or not I can’t say, but it’s more than just wicking material.

They’re just describing what literally all clothing does, except using fancy words. If anything, the fact that they think this is special says troubling things about the quality of their engineering.

It could be worse, though. There used to be a mattress company (maybe still is) that advertised heavily that their mattresses obeyed Newton’s Third Law.

They may be describing things with pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, but their clothing generally does what it says it will do, and is well made.

No, they’re describing a ceramic coating that can be applied to fabric without adding considerable weight or stiffness and (supposedly) offers increased thermal holding capacity. I’ve never used it so I don’t know how well it works but it’s not really what all clothing does. That would be like saying Gore-Tex is nothing different than all clothing; it blocks some water and lets out some vapor.

There are new technologies being applied to activewear fabrics, like Columbia’s Omni Heat and Mountain Hardware CoolQ, that are new and different. Some work better than others, but the same was true for early Gore-Tex and other breathable waterproof fabrics.

Sure, they’re using marketing gobbledygook, but they’re also investing in new technologies and lead to better garments.

Maybe they have a fancy new ceramic coating that works better than ordinary cloth. But that’s not what they’re advertising. All cloth absorbs and traps your body heat.

Right, and like the OP already stated, any significant absorption of body heat would imply either a material with a very high specific heat, or relatively large mass, neither of which is likely true.

Is it time to quote Feynman? Of course it is. Regarding honesty in science:

*In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson Oil doesn’t soak through food. Well, that’s true. It’s not dishonest; but the thing I’m talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest, it’s a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will—including Wesson Oil. So it’s the implication which has been conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.*

Likewise, what Under Armor is saying here is either nonsense or true for everything. Business as usual when it comes to marketing.

I’ve never paid much attention to their marketing. I inherited some under armor stuff from my father and it did impress me enough I’ve since purchased additional under armor clothing including ‘infrared’ stuff.

Their base layers do keep me warm. I work outside with water during the winter and am prone to getting wet. Moisture wicking clothing does stay warmer when wet and dries faster. I also do winter hiking in NH’s White Mountains. While pricey Under Armor clothes have never failed me.

Do you have both standard ColdGear and Infrared Coldgear items? If so, do you feel that the Infrared items are more effective in keeping you warm?

I do have both. The Infrared items I have are thicker material than any of the regular cold gear stuff, so yes it keeps me warmer but that’s not a fair comparison.

I wouldn’t put any faith in it being better just because it’s labeled ‘infrared’ I buy based on what I can find cheapest. I’m comfortable hiking 4000 footers mid winter with the regular ColdGear stuff so I don’t think I really need to pay more for ‘Infrared’

Clearance racks end of season are my shopping preference, so I pick from whatever is left in my size ‘infrared’ or not.

I love UA, because 15 years or do ago, I bought their cold gear tights for running. In the decade and a Half I’ve owned them, I’ve worn them through seven 50 mile races, a dozen marathons, and more than 10,000 training miles. They still look brand new. They pull away sweat, keep me warm even when they are wet, don’t chafe, and they make me look like Batman.

Their stuff is magic.

I also have gloves that I bought at the same time. Last winter I upgraded to their infrared gloves. They are warmer, but seem to be a little less wicking. They also seem to be a little more windproof.

I don’t see in the infrared, so I can’t tell what they do, but if UA Tells me it’s turning my sweat into infrared energy, than that’s fine with me.

I just hope they are not using an isotope of polonium of something to generate heat as it decays radioactively.

A good product is a good product whether or not marketers feel the need to make up impressive-sounding gibberish to explain why it’s so great.