The elusive aerogel insulation keeps popping up in outdoor products from time to time–from sleeping pads and water bottles to winter footwear and the occasional jacket. Although it is already used in space by NASA, the testbed for the insulation technology in outdoor apparel always seems to be Everest. Startup company Oros (formerly known as Lukla), is coming out with a new line of aerogel apparel and is headed to Everest this spring.
The last time aerogel went to Everest was with Champion and Jamie Clark. The apparel never made it to market despite the huge marketing efforts. So even though Peak Performance and some apparel brands have used the insulation, I will be curious to see how Oros performs in the Himalayas.
If you recall, Aerogel, a space age material used by NASA, is an extremely lightweight material that is essentially 90-percent air and is the lowest thermal conductor on the planet. This low conductive property is what makes it an ideal insulation for everything from space suits, the space shuttle tiles, and the Mars Rover, to blanket oil pipelines.
Oros claims they are using a new, proprietary form of aerogel that performs better than the legacy. It’s called Solarcore and is flexible, hydrophobic, durable, and breathable, all while maintaining the insulation that aerogels are known for. With an equivalent warmth of 40 mm of goose down (the same rating Champion claimed in their Supersuit), the Oros jackets don’t need to be bulky or puffy to maintain their warmth and insulating qualities, as aerogel does not require loft–it insulates in just a few millimeters.
Oros is running a second Kickstarter campaign for their new Orion apparel line (they ran a successful campaign for the original Lukla line last year)–hoping to raise $1 million. Yep, $1 million in order to offer snow pants and a wider variety of colors in addition to the jacket and gloves. The Kickstarter campaign is currently not quite funded, with around 5 days to go and a goal of $310K. For a pledge of $275 you can pre-order the Oros Orion Jacket–$99 for the gloves.
The jacket features aerogel coverage all over, housed in a waterproof breathable face fabric. Other features include pit zips, two interior pockets, six exterior pockets for storing gear, and a removable hood. The Oros jacket weighs only 40 ounces (2.5 pounds–38% lighter than the first generation jacket), which Oros claims is lighter than similar high-end thermal ski jackets on the market.