Performance fabric maker Polartec has launched a new synthetic insulation technology that can be used to create what it describes as the "first-ever breathable 'puffy' garments."

Unlike down and existing synthetic insulation batting, the company says Polartec Alpha is a highly stable layer, which means more open and breathable fabrics can be used on the outer and inner layers of "puffy" style garments.

As a result, Polartec Alpha provides active warmth that allows air exchange for breathability and moisture vapour transport in active use.

Classic puffy garments require "down-proof" or high-density woven layers that create a vapour barrier. Although they work well in static conditions, moisture gets trapped inside the garment during even minimal activity.

Another benefit is that Polartec Alpha maintains insulation values while wet and offers fast dry times. Highly compressible, it also provides inherent wind resistance and warmth without weight, the company says.

Developed to meet the performance requirements of the US Special Operations Forces (SOF), who are being issued with Polartec Alpha jackets, brands who have adopted the new insulation for its initial launch include 66º North, Eddie Bauer, Eider, Mammut, Marmot, and The North Face.