Brrrr to Barrier: R-Tec’s Ingenious Insulated Underwear Pants

It is clear: for big ideas one needs a “Eureka!” moment. One method to get them is reside close to Eureka itself, as in the Eureka Maple Woods Natural Area in Southwest Wisconsin. That’s near where one will find Sterling Outdoor Products the developer of the R-Tec Barrier®, an ingenious insulated underwear pant.

The R-Tec feels comfortable next to the skin

The R-Tec feels comfortable next to the skin

A bright ski patrol member, bristling at the thought of riding cold ski-lift chairs, thought there had to be better ideas than just adding more layers of clothing since those weren’t working anyway.

So, he saw a vision . . . and why not? By day, he is an eye doctor.

Think of the R-Tec Barrier as thermal underwear but better on several fronts. First, the invention, inserting a special-cut neoprene shield to cover and warm the gluteus maximus and hamstring tendon-muscles. The piece extends nearly one-half down the back of the leg to the knee-cap.

1 Waistband 2 Pocket slot 3 Extends to here 4 Flat stitching, cool material

1 Waistband 2 Pocket slot 3 Extends to here 4 Flat stitching, cool material

As a cold snow athlete, whether utilizing snowshoes, trail shoes, or skis, the key area of strength for movement will be these muscle groups. When they are cold the best image for what happens is the muscles freeze-up like chicken legs in the freezer with the resultant difficulty of running, squatting, lifting or turning. These images weren’t the first thing our inventor, the good doctor,  thought as he rode and froze on chair lifts; that emphasis was how to stay warm. Extra layers were just so much baggage; he still got cold.

When he glimpsed the idea in his head, the odds are high he didn’t even say “Eureka.” Rather his mind raced through the basic idea, designing this wonderfully unique—patent pending—padded thermal pant. The pant and pad are designed to stay put, not show even when bending. The cut includes a generous and firm 1.5 inch waistband with plenty of material for the upper-backside.

The undergarment indeed feels soft and slick due to the use of silky polyester, the most common thermal barrier; these are really comfortable. The material maintains stretchiness with spandex. The outer slot—creating the wide and roomy pocket to hold the insert—is stitched from a technical waterproof and breathable fabric.

Slick fit

Slick fit

There are two inserts available. One is for athletic uses with its thinner design (5mm) than the standard 6mm, and the perforated layout creating air flow to suck moisture away versus the solid one. Sitting on an outdoor bench, lift or a log by the trail, I would suggest using the standard insert for temperatures below 15°F. The athletic version will likely be favored if actively moving below that 15°F benchmark.

Sitting on a cold day, a user will immediately notice their backside is warmer than once endured. This is not a gimmick product, but it is quite real in its result and intent. Long winter endurance races no matter the method of covering the distance (like snowbikes) will find this pant usable.

In temperatures near or around freezing, the pad will be superfluous unless sitting like at a sporting event. However, in these 75- to 350-mile trail events (such as Tuscobia, Arrowhead or the granddaddy, the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational) one is out long enough that temperatures can be all over the gauge and more than likely near Arrowhead’s -35°F preceding their race this year.

The solid neoprene pad 6mm thick, flexible but stays firmly in place in the R-Tec pocket. Glove shown for a size reference

The solid neoprene pad 6mm thick, flexible but stays firmly in place in the R-Tec pocket. Glove shown for a size reference

The first practice wearing the insert, a user will feel it while getting used to an initial bulky feel. Afterwards, it is like any other piece of gear. It just fits right in like it is supposed to be there; one pays it no mind. In and out of the residence with frigid temperatures over the weekend, I noticed no discomfort wearing the pad and the garment itself. If anything, the comfort is so high with the silky material there is no reason to take it off until day’s end.

Worn underneath one’s outer-wear of jeans, slacks, racing pants or snow pants, there really is no visible sign one sports the R-Tec Barrier. The après scene after the exertion of sport can continue without one having to worry about appearances.

Other product extensions are underway so expect to see them. In the meantime, the low intro $99 price for all sizes S-2XL retains the folding-money padding in the wallet while warming your soul.

For more information on R-Tec Barrier, visit

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This entry was posted in Base Layers, Gear Reviews by Phillip Gary Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition including drag racing, his favorite motor sport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING:Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING:Keys" in a unique way. Currently he has two books in the works. Twitter: @iHarmonizing

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