Science & Health

NASA's Aerogel Insulation Makes Its Way To Activewear

Being 90 per cent air, aerogel is an extremely lightweight. It is also the lowest-weight thermal conductor on the planet, making it ideal for space suits, the innards of Space Shuttle tiles and the Mars Rover. Now aerogel insulation will be available in a range of jackets, gloves, beanies and pants thanks to performance apparel company Oros.

If this sounds familiar, it is because Oros (formerly Lukla) created the Lukla Endeavor aerogel-insulated jacket a year ago.

The new range promises to be thinner (the insulation inside the jackets is only 3mm thick) and 38 per cent lighter than its predecessor at 1.13kg. The result is also incredibly warm — the equivalent of 40mm of goose down — as well as comfortable and non-restrictive to movement. Oros says it “brings space age technology to winter outerwear”.

The testing phase included the clothing being blasted with liquid nitrogen (at a chilly -196 degrees Celsius). The gloves even have a battery-less self-heating feature.

It doesn’t just protect from the cold, though. The design and breathability of the clothing allows you to stay comfortable even if it warms up. The products are waterproof and windproof.

“Aerogel is an amazing insulator; it has to be since NASA uses it in outer space where the temperature is only two degrees above absolute zero,” said Michael Markesbery, founder of Oros.

“Whether you plan to climb Mt. Everest, go skiing, winter camping or just want to be warmer when you relax at the ski lodge patio, our Oros performance apparel is going to change the way you experience the outdoors.”

The Oros jacket, gloves and beanie are available starting February 1 on Kickstarter where the company has set a $310,000 but the founders are out to raise $1 million.

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