A year or two ago I heard of this crazy idea of using argon gas as an insulator for jackets and coats – the same gas used in windows as an insulator. This was about the same time I heard some people were talking about using aerogels (super insulator invented by NASA) as a clothing insulator or for sleeping pads.
Well a company called Klymit has done it and will start shipping products in late August 2009. They have a line of vests and a sleeping pad ready to start shipping soon. Although it may be a long time before you see these in the stores, if you are adventuresome you can order directly from their web site (http://klymit.com). The vests sell for $150 each as does the “Inertia Pad” Sleeping pad. The vests are very lightweight weighing about 300 grams. To get warmer you inflate the vest with gas from a tiny canister, to cool off you let some gas out by turning a dial on the jacket. The “Kanisters” sell for $24 each. One Kanister will fill a medium size jacket five times.
No detail information is out yet on the weight or size of the Inertia sleeping pad, but I’m guessing it also very light. Argon is an excellent insulator so the R value for the pad should be very high. This may give the Thermarest NeoAir some competition. We will see, I’m still hoping for the aerogels. In any case it looks like we will soon have more to choose from when buying jackets the just Down or Synthetic. Check out this Klymit video explaining the product.