Klymit Ulaar Jacket uses gas for insulation

Klymit Ulaar Jacket uses gas for insulation
The Klymit Ulaar is a waterproof shell with on-the-fly insulation adjustment
The Klymit Ulaar is a waterproof shell with on-the-fly insulation adjustment
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The Klymit Ulaar is a waterproof shell with on-the-fly insulation adjustment
The Klymit Ulaar is a waterproof shell with on-the-fly insulation adjustment

The Klymit Ulaar Jacket doesn't puff you out like a down jacket, and it doesn't make you pile on sweaters like a shell. Instead, it serves as both shell and insulated jacket using an innovative insulator: argon gas. You can pump the jacket full of gas (insulation) when you're cold and let some of the gas out when you're warm.

Klymit calls the technology NobleTek, and it's been using it in a line of vests since 2009. The Ulaar jacket is the first shell with NobleTek.

Klymit says that noble gases like argon are a natural choice for insulation because they have low thermal conductivity. On a graph on its website, the company shows that 4.5 mm of argon insulates comparably to 14 mm of solid insulation.You stay warm with less bulk, and because the warmth is from gas, you don't get the added weight of heavy solid insulation.

Another NobleTek advantage is its flexibility. With Klymit's pump and argon cartridges, you can add insulation in the field when things get cold. Say you wake up to a beautiful spring morning, take off on a long day hike and, midway through, things get stormy and cool. Ordinarily you'd be left to suffer, assuming you didn't bring any extra clothing with you. But if you're wearing a Klymit garment, you can pump it full of insulation and up your weather protection for the altered conditions. Similarly, if you're hiking on a winter day, and the high-alpine sun starts pounding down, you can lower the amount of insulation to cool down without ripping off layers or lashing a sweater to your hydration pack.

While Klymit chose to launch NobleTek on vests, it makes a lot of sense in a shell. Typically, consumers have to make the choice between a heavy, insulated jacket and a shell, which protects from wind and water but doesn't have any insulation. The Ulaar jacket gives them both - it's a lightweight shell and insulated jacket in one, and it transforms anywhere. The jacket is lined with stretchy bamboo carbon fabric that's soft, fast drying and anti-microbial.

Klymit will launch the Ulaar jacket in the United States this fall. It will be showing the jacket in Europe for the first time at next month's Outdoor show in Germany.

Source: Klymit

Charles Bosse
I've thought about this idea before, but it seems to me that the insulating capabilities of a gas can be overcome where the gas gets pushed aside (as in the lining contacting the outer surface) and that making a shell that would not just allow all the argon to flow to the bottom (argon is pretty heavy for a gas, so it's going to tend to sink) and sit in a tube around the belly requires a level of rigidity that seems like it would be uncomfortable to wear. I would be interested to see how they are attempting to solve this issue. That said, it's a decent idea.
My other concern is that argon is not -that- cheep, and it sounds like this makes it more than a one time purchase. This could be great for mountain climbing or skiing, but I don't think anyone will wear it for a normal chilly day in the city, and people will be a little reluctant releasing the argon, knowing that they will have to pay for more next time.
Of course, you can get almost the same insulating properties using regular air instead of Argon. But then they wouldn't be able to sell you the expensive cartridges.
Want to bet that there's no way to easily recharge these argon cartridges at your local welding supplies store either?
Sounds like the inkjet printer scam all over: the printer is the loss leader, and the real money is made from selling the refills...
Gary Joyce
Argon. Hmmmm. Been using that in drysuits for a looooong time. Guess it'll work on the surface ... and at least you won't have to wear Depends.
How well does it survive contact with rose bushes and other thorns?
Dawar Saify
Why not a pump system, pumping either way, into the jacket, or the reservoir.