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A parka that keeps you warm and the North cold

March 9, 2020

Fighting the dark, cold days of winter with a new insulation technology made from 100% recycled materials.

group of people standing outside in warm winter gear

Tired of being labeled a resident of flyover country, Minnesota entrepreneur Eric Dayton launched retail store Askov Finlayson several years ago to celebrate the region and its cold winters.

He started with a hat

He began with 150 stocking caps emblazoned with the word “North” at his store, Askov Finlayson. Soon the identity caught on, with professional sports teams and even the state tourism board adopting the moniker as a rallying cry. “North” has become a regional movement. It also helped Dayton define Askov Finlayson’s climate-focused and climate-positive mission to “Keep the North Cold” and spurred the decision to give 110% of the company’s carbon cost to organizations fighting climate change. And without cold, snowy winters, what would the North be anyway?

This mission brought him to his next challenge: an expedition-level winter parka that needed to have cold-fighting capabilities while helping to reduce the company’s (and its customers’) carbon footprint.

Climate-conscious insulation

Dayton turned to 3M™ Thinsulate™ Featherless Insulation. Its 100% recycled polyester material gives excellent protection even in extreme conditions while also being more durable than natural outwear materials tend to be. It also offers very high protection against moisture and humidity, continuing to provide insulative value when wet.

The featherless insulation is part of 3M’s work to help outerwear manufacturers reach their sustainability goals and is part of 3M’s strategic focus on using science to advance a circular economy that designs out waste, keeps products and materials in use, and integrates more renewable raw materials.

The 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation team had been developing filling for coats made with recycled content for years, but to reach 100%, 3M scientist Ken Cox and his team at the 3M™ Global Design Lab turned to new ways to use fibers made from recycled plastic bottles.

Materials with the performance to match

“If we can make a product with recycled content that performs just as well as the original, that’s what they’ll choose.”

Amy Haase, 3M Home Care Division

It wasn’t just a matter of switching out virgin materials for recycled. The product still had to perform. The engineers who developed 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation tested and proved its ability to perform in terms of weight and warmth using thermal imagery and numerous durability tests.

This called upon 3M’s technology expertise in nonwoven materials, polymer processing, adhesives, thermal management and sustainability. “We’re really good at optimizing how to put the construction of 3M™ Thinsulate™ together,” says Mike Mandanas, lab manager, 3M Home Care Division. “We used multiple recycled fibers with different characteristics to build the best-performing product possible.”

The 3M™ Thinsulate™ Featherless Insulation became available in September 2019—perfect timing for a winter parka. Ninety percent recyclable, according to Askov Finlayson, the parka recently hit the market and is available online and at the Minneapolis store. It’s already garnered coverage by Fast Company and the Star Tribune newspaper.

Amy Haase, a marketing communicator with 3M’s Home Care Division, said the focus on making products that are more sustainable has to do with consumers. “[They] are demanding it more. They want to do good, but the product still has to perform. That’s the most important part,” she said. “If we can make a product with recycled content that performs just as well as the original, that’s what they’ll choose.”

Learn more about 3M’s long-standing commitment to sustainability.

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3M Research Scientist Jonathan Hester at work in the lab





heatmap of cooling on roof