Outdoors

Emergency vest inflates and insulates for survival

XeroGear's testing included a cold-weather vehicle test, window open, no heat
XeroGear's testing included a cold-weather vehicle test, window open, no heat
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A radar-reflective polymer in the XeroVest's exterior layer is designed to assist with search and rescue
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A radar-reflective polymer in the XeroVest's exterior layer is designed to assist with search and rescue
XeroGear worked with Cornell on testing
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XeroGear worked with Cornell on testing
XeroGear and Cornell tested the vest on a "Walter," a sensor-equipped mannequin designed to test insulation values, body heat loss and moisture transfer
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XeroGear and Cornell tested the vest on a "Walter," a sensor-equipped mannequin designed to test insulation values, body heat loss and moisture transfer
XeroVest testing
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XeroVest testing
XeroGear's testing included a cold-weather vehicle test, window open, no heat
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XeroGear's testing included a cold-weather vehicle test, window open, no heat
XeroVest features
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XeroVest features
XeroVest patent drawings
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XeroVest patent drawings
XeroGear's inflatable design means the vest packs small and light
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XeroGear's inflatable design means the vest packs small and light
The vest inflates with a blow valve
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The vest inflates with a blow valve
XeroGear's Kickstarter is aimed to raise money in part for merchandising
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XeroGear's Kickstarter is aimed to raise money in part for merchandising
The XeroVest's air pockets provide emergency insulation
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The XeroVest's air pockets provide emergency insulation

Beyond the well-known Mylar emergency blanket, there's a healthy market of light, portable emergency gear and wearables built for fending off hypothermia and providing insulation in cold-weather survival situations. The XeroVest from Delaware-based XeroGear brings some fresh blood to that market. This emergency vest packs small and light and inflates into form, relying on air pockets and heat reflective design to create an insulating barrier.

From tilting three-wheelers to inflatable vests ... XeroGear is the brainchild of Ian Bruce, also the founder of Venture Vehicles. We looked at Venture, now called Persu, way back in 2007, and Bruce has since moved on to focus on other projects and ideas. One of those ideas is the XeroVest.

The XeroVest is designed as a single-use emergency tool and rides in your backpack or glove compartment as a small, 2-oz (57g) package. If you find yourself underdressed in the wilderness, facing angry, violent cold, you pop the vest out, blow it into shape with the collar-integrated valve, and enjoy better core insulation fit snugly around your body.

The new vest uses a combination of heat-reflective technology and air-trapping inflatable design to help keep you warm in cold survival scenarios. The reflective interior lining works with the inflatable air pockets to keep body heat right where you want it. XeroGear claims that the design prevents 80 to 90 percent of radiant heat loss.

The vest inflates with a blow valve
The vest inflates with a blow valve

The XeroVest's two-layer nylon construction offers wind and moisture protection, and integrated ventilation holes let you breathe so you don't get sweaty and damp below the vest. The vest secures with a front closure and features a radar-reflective exterior to help rescuers find you should you need formal search and rescue.

An air-filled vest may not sound particularly warm, but even high-performance insulations like down and aerogel are based on trapped air. It's that trapped air that prevents body heat from radiating out, keeping you warm in the cold. Blizzard Survival Reflexcell jackets and products also rely on a combination of heat reflection and trapped air, albeit with a honeycomb design instead of inflation.

We've seen wearable inflatable insulation before, too, most notably in products from Klymit and related outfit NuDown. Those companies have focused more on full-fledged outerwear and layering, which has always seemed to suffer some drawbacks, including high prices when compared to other insulators. It's natural to question why you're paying $650 (current listed price of the NuDown Squaw Peak) for a jacket insulated with nothing more than the common air we breathe for free. XeroGear's strategy of using the concept of inflatable insulation as a cheap, lightweight, packable emergency solution might just prove more attractive to outdoor consumers.

XeroVest testing
XeroVest testing

XeroGear refined the vest design though four different prototypes, and last September, it worked with Cornell University to test the insulating and breathability properties of the final version. From there, it moved on to field testing and is now preparing to move to market.

XeroGear has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the XeroVest out there, with pledges for an adult-sized vest priced at $9. Bruce tells us that it has thousands of production samples ready to ship, and plans call for sending out the first deliveries to Kickstarter backers late next month. Money raised will be put toward tooling, merchandising and development of future products, including a child's vest.

Source: XeroGear

5 comments
Timelord
Trapped air doesn't "prevent body heat from radiating out." The foil radiant barrier prevents radiational heat loss. The layer of air is supposed to reduce conductive and convective heat loss. The large cells of this jacket won't help too much against that. You're going to have convection currents inside those cells. That's why jackets "insulated with nothing more than the common air we breathe for free" cost more, although most don't cost as much as the extreme example. The insulation divides the air into tiny pockets that can't circulate in convection currents.
liui
Wearing this could also help you go undetected by an infrared camera!
AEH in FL
A reusable version would be great to pack in a tank bag or under the seat of my motorcycle.
Martin Hone
Wondering if a waterproof version suitable - if you will excuse the pun - for sailors or those making overwater flights is in the wings ?
unklmurray
Wonder what the buoyancy rating is? Will it double as a life vest??My legs get cold too ,are they making Bib pants 2 go with........Lots of questions.......I will buy a vest A.S.A. they're available.....................LOL :-)