Insulation fabric you can buy as an individual MYOGer

2023 was the year that active insulation (insulating material that can be used as active wear) emerged.
Many companies released a variety of clothing made of active insulation materials, and some of you may have actually purchased such clothing.

I have compiled a list of options for using active insulation materials that you may use in a personal MYOG project.

  • Alpha Direct
    This is a material developed by Polartec of the U.S., which is becoming synonymous with active insulation these days. Alpha, the base material, is also treated as active insulation, but Alpha Direct seems to have more opportunities to be mentioned in this context.
  • Primaloft NEXT / Active
    Developed by Albany in the U.S., this material has been in use since the 1980s, and has a proven track record. It is a well-known story that this material was developed in response to a request from the U.S. military, just like Climashield (see below). Incidentally, the names Primaloft NEXT and Primaloft Active are often used in the same way, but NEXT is a series that is supposed to use more than half recycled materials, while Active is a so-called active insulation material.
  • Climashield APEX
    Climashield has a similar history to Primaloft and has been used by the U.S. military for many years, and it is generally said that Climashield is slightly more durable than Primaloft, but this depends on the part of the garment and how often it is worn. It is difficult to make a general statement because of this. Like other materials, there are various types of Climashield, but APEX is the closest to active insulation.
  • Octa
    This material was developed by Teijin of Japan. Compared to Primaloft and Climashield, some people may feel slightly tingling when wearing it directly on the skin, but this is a matter of personal preference. Again, it is difficult to make a general statement.

Many other materials have been developed independently by major manufacturers. I have omitted them since these are not available to individuals or small manufacturers.

Now, moving on to the main topic, availability.

first and foremost, whether you can it at Rip Stop by the Roll, a long-time ally of MOGer.
The results were as follows

  • Alpha Direct = Yes
  • Primaloft = No (previously sold)
  • Climashield = Yes
  • Octa = No

So, I actually received the material I ordered from RSBR.
From left to right, Climashield APEX 2.5, Climashield APEX 10, and Alpha Direct 4004.

Primaloft is available by the yard from other distributors than RSBR. Hence, we can assume it is highly available.
The problem is Octa.

I contacted Teijin (Frontier) to see if they could sell the material, and I was told that they currently only accept built-to-order and do not have ready-made stocks.
Then, I asked them how much volume they would accept for built-to-order, and they replied that the minimum lot size per fabric type would be several tens of thousands of meters.
This is obviously a high threshold for an individual to place an order.
Perhaps even small manufacturers would find it difficult to place an order without a substantial commitment.

If you are going to use active insulation materials for your personal MYOG project, it would be a good idea to start with materials other than Octa.

Follow Kenshin

I was born and raised in a rural town in Shiga Japan where bears used to haunt the school. I moved to west coast in the U.S. at the age of 18 to study 3D computer graphics and computer science. I started my career as an engineer in the gaming industry and later founded several tech startups. I have been enjoying outdoors as a hobby for over 10 years, become so passionate about ultralight hiking and began making my own gear using 3D CAD and sewing machine. Currently, living in Kyoto Japan.
SNS: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn
MYOG – Ultralight Hiking & Camping