As Outdoor Retailer kicks into gear this week, I’m still getting random emails here and there from last-minute PR folks asking for appointments. Well, to all of them I’ve had to respond with “sorry… booked up long ago.” But, this email caught my attention and hopefully I can see it in person.
Traditional high-altitude climbers essentially wear a down sleeping bag (like the Marmot 8000 Meter Insulated Suit or The North Face Himalayan Snow Suit). While these suits are comfortable, natural down fibers must have a high amount of loft to maintain their insulative properties. On top of that, under compression, they lose some of their insulative powers as well.
With the wonders of technology, Champion is unveiling a prototype climbing suit at Outdoor Retailer that utilizes Zero-Loft™ Aerogel insulation instead of down. The technology behind this suit is described as “nanotechnology”, in other words… you’ve got to be an “engin-nerd” to truly understand all the details. But, I’m sure anyone off the street could tell you whether or not the stuff keeps them warm.
Word is it’s lightweight, but just how compressible is it? And, how well does it breathe? We’ll just have to see.
To test these new materials and technology, the Expedition Hanesbrands team will be using them on Mt. Everest this Spring. I hope to stop by the booth (as I run by… late for my next appointment) and take a picture to show what it looks like in person, but for now the attached artists renditions will have to do. If you’re thinking it looks a heckuvalot like a NASCAR pit crew outfit, we’re on the same page. However, I’m sure it performs at altitude much better than Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racing suit… just a hunch.