From the Expo Floor: Timberland Pro Displays Dry Ice, Nanotechnology

It should be noted that while the weather outside has been phenomenal all week here in Chicago for NSC’s 95th annual Congress & Expo, inside lakeside McCormick Place the climate has been, well, very well air-conditioned—which is probably a good thing, considering all the moving bodies bustling about, but it’s nevertheless noticeable if you’re sitting still, rubbing your hands to generate enough warmth to type. But if the expo floor has been too refrigerated at times for some of us, no place here has been colder than Booth 1436, where Timberland Pro has set up shop.

Using dry ice (safely encased) as an effective demonstration of its latest boot’s heat-retention properties, Timberland is introducing its new Thermal Force work boot, designed specifically for those who work in cold environments. The boot features waterproof leather and a “Cold Formula” outsole designed to retain flexibility in extreme conditions, but according to senior product manager Bob McCarthy, “The intel on the inside of the boot is really the cool part of the story.”

This is because the Thermal Force is, according to McCarthy, the first work boot to include 3M’s Thinsulate Zone insulation, which takes the place of the packed, quilted insulation normally found wrapped at the inner top. Plus, the insulation is flame laminated so that there is no need for stitching or the resulting stitchline, which is a prim location for heat loss in the typical work boot. The boot’s other inner “intel” involves nanotechnology—Aspen Aerogel’s aerogel nanotechnology, to be precise—and this is where the dry ice comes in.

A common complaint among those who work in cold conditions is that steel toe caps get cold first, resulting in cold toes, McCarthy says. The steel-toe version of the Thermal Force’s cap area is coated with a ceramic-based material to add a primary layer of insulation. In both the steel and non-steel toe versions of the boot, aerogel nanotechnology is applied atop the toe box to provide a lightweight, space-saving, and high-performance insulation. To demonstrate the nanotech’s effectiveness, Timberland provides two kitchen-mitt type gloves, one made out of traditional boot materials, the other out of the aerogel technology, and invite you to place your covered hands on two oversized hunks of dry ice it has on hand for the occasion. Within seconds, it becomes clear that the nanotech-enabled mitt is the one deflects the heat loss best. “Retaining heat is a big piece of the story,” McCarthy says. Now if someone on the McCormick staff would just turn up the air by at least a notch or two.

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