Aerogel- The Insulation Of The Future?

Champion supersuit with aerogel

Aerogel, a flexible material made from Massachusetts company Aspen Aerogels, is starting to show up all over the outdoor industry as the new insulation technology of choice. Seen in everything from water bottles and tennis rackets to sleeping pads and clothing, aerogel appears to be the insulation of the future.

Aerogel is a manufactured material with the lowest bulk density of any known porous solid. It is derived from a gel in which the liquid component has been replaced with a gas. The result is an extremely low-density, lightweight solid which is composed of over 90 percent air, so extremely effective as a thermal insulator. Aerogel is also naturally waterproof but still allows for vapor transmission.

Other insulation materials such as down require loft to achieve their insulation value. Pressure or moisture causes these materials to compress dramatically and lose their loft along with their insulating capacity. Aerogel on the other hand does not need loft to deliver its high insulation value and barely compresses.

Champion finally unveiled their “Supersuit” at Outdoor Retailer last week. The core technology in the new suit is of course aerogel lined between a radiant foil and moisture wicking fabric on the inside and a waterproof shell on the outside. Jamie Clark will wear the aerogel Supersuit on his upcoming Everest climb with Expedition Hanesbrands.

CamelBak Podium Ice with Aerogel Pacific Outdoors Aspen Aerogels sleeping pad

Other aerogel products seen at the show are the Pacific Outdoors aerogel sleeping pad and the CamelBak Podium Ice water bottle. We have also previously posted on Quiver, who use aerogel insulation in their water bottle technology as well. So plan to see more and more outdoor companies adopting aerogel as their insulation technology of choice.

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  1. Not likely. It’s a poor choice for clothing because it doesn’t fill in air voids around your body the way fluffy insulators do so there’s too much convective heat loss. Also doesn’t hold up well to repeated flexing so not great in elbow areas and fingers. Burton tried aerogel for parkas 5 years ago and it flopped. Great for things like pads and boots (Vasque used it in their mountain boots). The aluminum reflector layer has been tried too. Great in labs, great for marketing hype…lousy in the real world.

  2. Hi Clyde. Thanks for your comments. Very interesting that it supposedly does not hold up well to repeated flexing and that Burton gave up on it. I will be very interested to see the final Champion complete supersuit (pants too) design and how it holds up on Everest.

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