Nike Unveils Latest Pro Combat Weather-Resistant Impact Protection Base Layer Technology

Learn about Nike's latest protective technologies for today's bigger, faster and stronger athletes.

Weather should never be a distraction for an athlete on the field. That's why Nike recently introduced their latest Hyperwarm and Hypercool technology, specifically their new Pro Combat base layer apparel.

Today's bigger, stronger athletes work hard to gain even a slight advantage over their competition. Take NFL WR Calvin Johnson compared to Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice. Both are iconic wide receivers in their eras, but Johnson is 30 pounds heavier than Rice, who played in the 80s and 90s.

This implies that today's football athletes take harder impact hits than their predecessors. Thus, Nike's latest HyperStrong base layer and HyperTight compression gear (for recovery) technology is designed to provide the utmost impact protection.

Nike revealed several of their research and testing techniques, giving us a glimpse at their product design process. A body scanner examines an athlete's body shape, size and dimensions to help designers visualize how athletes in different sports are built (e.g., a wide receiver vs. a distance runner) and uncover the unique aspects of the body for a given sport that need special attention. Having used the body scanner for almost a decade, Nike has a database of hundreds of athletes' information, as well as access to a global database where they can compare athletes from all over the world.

Furthermore, Nike uses bio-motion capture—a camera capable of capturing 30,000 frames per second—so they can break down the smallest movements and torque of a body in motion. The company shared how they understand the body's physiological internal regulatory mechanisms (like body temperature and sensory perception) and biomechanics (such as how certain muscle groups work together.) Read on to learn more.

Eliminate Weather as a Distraction

The new Hyperwarm Flex (top and pants) is Nike's warmest and most flexible base layer yet.  for athletes training and competing in cold climates. With breathable mesh and 50 percent more sweat-wicking Dri-Fit Max technology, the Flex is designed to "lock out the elements"—repelling water and wind—while "locking in performance" (and body heat).

  • Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Flex Tight is engineered for warmth and moisture-wicking. Dri-FIT pods are strategically placed for zoned warmth where you need it most. Breathability-variant mesh areas provide strategic ventilation for optimal thermoregulation. Seamless knit construction facilitates mobility and flexibility while eliminating distraction in cold-weather conditions.
  • Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Dri-Fit Max Shield Fitted Mock keeps out rain and wind through a stretch-woven overlay in the chest and sleeves. Dri-Fit Max fabric wicks away sweat for comfort in the cold. Mesh back pods increase airflow to keep you cool.
  • Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Dri-Fit Max Mock incorporates a Dri-Fit Max twill interior to accelerate the pull of moisture away from the skin's surface, keeping the body dry and eliminating the chilling effect. Side mesh gussets allow for extra breathability and full range of motion, while lightweight jersey panels help reduce bulk and lock in warmth.

In addition, a unique seamless knit construction promotes mobility, particularly in the shoulders, elbows and knees, and eliminates chafing. With that "second skin" feel, the material aims to act as a natural extension of the body in fabric form.

Among its testing methods, Nike uses an environmental chamber that mimics harsh weather conditions, including wind and rain. As an athlete exercises in the chamber, company scientists measure his or her oxygen consumption and body temperature. Thermal imaging and mapping pinpoints places where they sweat the most, and where optimal warmth is critical. Nike's latest base layer fabrics are designed with different knit densities that correspond to heat levels in different areas of the body.

Nike even has a life-sized copper model (named Hal) that mimics human sweat and heat loss. When an athlete is in motion, heat is transferred through the garment via sweat and other non-sweat mechanisms. Hal gauges the amount of heat loss that occurs through different fabrics. The thermal and evaporative resistance of a material dictates how well Hal retains and loses heat. For example, in a hot climate, you want a fabric with high thermal resistance and low evaporative resistance (the degree to which the garment impedes the body's ability to cool through sweat.)

Position-Relative Impact Protection

For the past couple of years, Nike has partnered with STATS, Inc. to take an in-depth look at football's significantly increased pace and amount of contact. Specifically considering five impact areas of an athlete's body—the shoulders, chest, knees, thighs and back—they found that different football positions require the body to withstand impact in different amounts and in different places. After identifying the impact areas, they could construct different garments to meet varying demands.

Quarterbacks endure the most impact above the hips, to the chest, ribs and shoulders, so Nike engineered the Pro Combat HyperStrong 3.0 "Quarterback Cut" Shirt with padding placed strategically along the ribs and shoulders.

Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson shared his insights:  "A lot of my hits on the football field don't come up high. And the lower extremities are what I need most for my position. So [Nike and I] came up with a protective skin that wraps from the middle of my quad all the way around to the middle of my hamstring,  and that's because a lot of my hits come from low, from the side or from behind."

Running backs and tight ends absorb the most contact of any skill position, most of it to the lower half of the body. Thigh and knee padding are a must. Nike developed proprietary testing methods for padding protection, engineering an artificial thigh to mimic human tissue response of a running back when wearing and not wearing padding.

  • Nike Pro Combat HyperStrong 3.0 Compression 4-Pad Top and 3/4 Pant are part of the company's sport-specific range, which includes strategically placed padding for impact protection. With newly designed, ultra-flexible 7mm DeTech foam padding at the shoulders and ribs, it provides maximum protection with less bulk than its predecessor. Dri-Fit fabric wicks away sweat while four-way stretch material enables enhanced range of motion and optimal breathability when the action heats up.

The HyperStrong 3.0 has lightweight DeTech padding (7mm thick and ultra-flexible) integrated directly into the base layer material in high impact areas, with dual-density EVA foam for impact absorption. The special padding allows contoured body-mapped mobility and flexibility.

To reduce stress on your body throughout a long and demanding season or training schedule, check out the new base layer offerings from Nike for protection and comfort in a range of climates.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

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