Whilst understanding how this unique suit works is important, because there is nothing else like this out there, in my opinion practice trumps theory. When I had first read about the suit I thought it sounded amazing, but how effective would it be in a real life situation rather than a freezer test. After the creators of the suit, Vladimir Grigoriev and Dmitry Biskup met with me and explained all the dynamics of the suit and how it was created, I was astounded and certain that this was going to change the world (at least the world of extreme cold). So the only logical thing left to do was to test the suits out in real life.
I flew to the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia, during the beginning of December. My horses are based at Oymyakon, the coldest permanently inhabited settlement on our planet, where the lowest recorded temperature was -71.2C. I figured this would be as good a place as any to test the suits out. The main difference between this and a freezer test is that the risk is a lot higher. If you are testing out clothing in a freezer and it turns out the clothing doesn't do what its supposed to, you can always come out the freezer into a nice warm room within a minute. However, if you are out in the wild testing out these suits and something goes wrong, you have nowhere to go. Which means that you have to believe in what you are using as your life literally depends on it.
For me this was a week of temperatures sitting between -50C and -60C, with rides reaching 7 hours in the saddle. For those who don't ride, when you're in the saddle you generate as much heat as you would sitting on a sofa (maybe a little more). To make the test even more effective I forgot my synthetic socks, which meant I would have to go barefoot in the suit.
Reality vs theory -
Whilst riding for 7 hours in temperatures between -58C and -60C at no point did my body begin to feel cold. It is worth noting that I was wearing NO SOCKS, one pair of thermal leggings and a thermal top under the suit. Imagine being in -60C with no socks, I think most people think you'd be extremely lucky to come away without getting frostbite. So the heat retention and 'thermos' aspect of the suit are extremely effective as expected.
To test out whether the suit functions better with sweating and to ensure that heavy sweating wouldn't cause any issues, I would do high intensity activities such as chopping wood or running to work up a sweat, once my body would be extremely sweaty I would stop any physical activity and remain in the cold stationary. Again, at no point did I feel cold in the suit.
Mounting and riding horses takes a lot of mobility, especially when the horses are challenging, so the flexibility of the suit was something I was extremely excited to try out. It felt as if I had nothing on. No restrictions to movement what so ever.
The only issue I did come across, which I was warned about prior to departure, is that the suits can't overcome physical laws. If you lay directly on the ground in the suit, the part of your body which is in contact with the ground will get cold. Although it isn't freezing, it's enough to feel uncomfortable.
So overall this suit does exactly what you would expect it to.
For me during this expedition, having the right clothing is the difference between life and death. There are no places to run into and warm up if you get cold, you have to rely completely on your body and your clothing. Having the IceIndigo Artic Suit gave me that level of confidence knowing no matter how cold it got, this suit would keep me warm and allowed me to focus on the other challenging aspects such as how to breathe in the cold air.