Hey guys, just catching up with the thread started here about our new and upcoming product launches. Let me see if I can help answer some of the questions going on. As I understand it, thus far the questions/concerns are:
1. Q: Leaks and punctures
A: You are absolutely right, as with any way different technology, there are strengths and weaknesses. We have done our best to think through every potential weakness and this is one of the first ones that came to mind when we first thought of this technology. Potential of puncturing the gas chambers is something wanted to resolve the best we can. Thus far we have had over 150 people field test our gear from skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, etc and have never once in our entire time building this technology ever had a puncture, kinda weird but it just shows that the way the gear is used it is highly unlikely to get punctures. However, in the case that a puncture occurs we currently have 2 solutions:
a. Preventative: We plan to make our gear in the future available with a puncture proof coating. There are fabrics we plan to use i.e. hexarmor (http://www.hexarmor.com/) that is nearly impossible to cut or puncture. When developing our military solutions with body armor integration we had the local SWAT and Special Forces teams out to our office and showed them a sample of the fabric coated with hexarmor. They used their issued very sharp knives and tried forcefully to cut the fabric and could not. We actually even broke a hypodermic needle trying to puncture the fabric. This seems to be a promising preventative solution but we do not have a solid date on when it will be made available this way. Stay tuned to our website for info on this.
b. Repair: We have a short and long term solution for repairing. Short term we plan to use a clear adhesive patch (under final testing) for infield quick solutions. Once the chamber is punctured, just slap one of these small patches on and pump back up. This patch may be a great solution for long term as well, but we are verifying that now. We also have a silicone type glue that takes a few hours to cure, but it is similar to SeamGrip and goes on clear, flexible and very airtight as well. Each product purchased from Klymit will come with the best and final patch kit solution.
2. Q: Weights of gear:
A: Final pieces are on their way to us for official weights but we anticipate that our lightest Kinetic vest (Red Rock, others are just slightly heavier) will weigh when finished between 250 – 300 grams depending on the size (XS – XL). This I can with confidence say is the worlds lightest insulated waterproof vest ever. When we have the final vests in each color/fabric, and size in our hands we will do final weight testing and post them under each product in the store. Your right that the above weight does not include the valve and canister as in many cases people just pump up the vest at the beginning of the day, and use the Kontrol dial (on the left breast) to release some argon as the sun comes out and it gets warmer. However the weight of the Klymitizer (the gas deliver valve) is 45 grams, and the weight of the HotShot (argon canister) is 58 grams. If you use a Kinetic vest, and future products i.e. Klymit gloves, pants, Inertia pad, tents, etc then you actually save on weight cutting out all the other heavier insulators. For now though there is just the vest that uses the gas so you decide how to factor in that weight if you think you need to carry the gas with to add insulation throughout the day (probably the case if you’re going on a multiday trip) or if you just need to fill up in the morning and bleed off throughout the day.
3. Q: Insulation comparison
A: Obviously you won’t find a lighter insulation than gas (except a vacuum), and Argon actually has a better thermal conductivity value than all insulators but solid Aerogel, and one of our future gases we will offer Krypton is even better than solid Aergelo. Argon also has a thermal conductivity value about 33% better than completely dry air, so not ambient humid or blow air, but compressed dry air. The trick is, harnessing the potential of these gases in the right way. With our first generation of chambers (currently used in the available Kinetic vests) we have the same warmth to weight ratio (8) as down as verified by Kansas State University (KSU). Now this is under dry conditions, but once you put down or a synthetic fiber under wet conditions, their warmth to weight ratio changes drastically. Our own laboratory testing shows that fiber insulation transfers heat 4 times faster when wet then when it is dry, while Klymit (argon can’t get wet) retains is same thermal conductivity value. You add the fact that the down or other fibers will soak up the water making them heavier our internal data suggest that down and synthetics will go from a warmth to weight ratio of 8 down to about 0.8 and Klymit will remain very close to that 8 number. Our next KSU testing we send off will be to test this specifically and we will post the results when we get them. We have a full white paper we are formalizing that we will release soon with all our studies on the technology to date, both internal and 3rd party data to show how we really stand up apples to apples, but more importantly than what the labs say, is what the 150 beta testers said when they used our gear last winter in as cold as 30 below Celsius. That data we plan to include in our white paper as well. Also stay tuned to learn about our MonoWeave technology (derived from the airbag industry) will improve our warmth to weight ration over down even in dry conditions giving seamless chambers with 100% gas coverage.
4. Q: Can the Klymitizer (the gas delivery valve) and HotShots (the argon canisters) be adapted to other products i.e. camping pads
A: Yes, in short you can with the right homemade connection you might design using hoses, some super glue and duct tape you probably could. However, you will probably end up with an ugly looking pad afterwards, and waste argon trying to do it. Also, our Inertia pad is designed using body mapping to give you insulation and comfort at your body’s pressure points decreasing the necessary volume of gas required to fill the pad. We expect our pad will take up only about 60% of what the NeoAir requires. This means you don’t have to waste so much gas in parts of your pad that your body never touches. Our pads are also both air or argon inflatable. 3 seasons you use your mouth to inflate when it’s not so cold, and in the winter you use argon (need to carry gas cartridge and valve). We designed it this way to make the world’s first 4 season pad that allows you to determine extra warmth and less weight (leaving valve and gas behind in the 3 seasons). Our Inertia pads will be the first product to feature the MonoWeave technology, and our first prototypes are already the world’s most compact (more compact than the NeoAir when rolled up) and the most durable. The Inertia camping pad can withstand over 20 times the amount of pressure that existing pads can, obviously this is because it came from the airbag industry utilizing our MonoWeave technology and we use the world’s largest airbag manufacture Autoliv as our manufacturing partner.
5. Q: How does Klymit compare to the Gore-Tex Airvantage
A: We first learned of the Airvantage after we filed our first patent and while we were developing our early prototypes. This came as a bit of a surprise to use so we spent a considerable about of time researching not only their patents, but why they crashed and burned in the market. Multiple bloggers expressed an appreciation for the variable warmth, but complained about the moisture from their breath used to inflate the vest would freeze and create ice cubes in their vest when they got below 30. After lots of research and long conversations with former Gore employee’s that told us why it failed, we learned there major flaws and worked to make sure we don’t repeat them. There was a long list of these problems but I will only mention a couple here that seem most relevant to the conversation:
a. Moisture from the breath you use to inflate the vest was probably the biggest problem as it would freeze and consumers complained of a pungent smell from the festering saliva that would grow mold inside the vest chambers.
b. If you could use 100% dry air (only available in compressed tanks) then argon is still 33% more effective, and it is about 0.95% of the air we breath so it is very available and very affordable.
2. Point of sale
a. Despite the obvious difficulties in convincing consumers to use their own breath to insulate themselves, the biggest problem is when people would go to the store, try on a jacket, go to inflate it and see semi dried saliva and bits of food on the hose so it detracted them from getting the full experience and moved on to check out other jackets. We anticipate supplying retailers with a very compact light weight gas reservoir that can give about 500 fills on a vest to demo the vest effectively. For IP sake I cannot mention everything about this reservoir but in the near future we will and will create a lot more added value to the technology so stay tuned for that one. The rubber straw used to inflate the Airvantage was also a problem to active consumers where it would frequently pop out and constantly hit them in the chin and was uncomfortable when pressed against the body. The hose was very inconveient and could only be used to inflate vests, could you imagine trying to inflate shoes or pants with this system? That's where the compressed argon has another advantage in easily going anywhere.
After our conversations with the former Gore employees where we showed them everything we had going on in development, they felt we had resolved their major problems that led to their ultimate failure in the Airvantage and are confident that from a technology standpoint and marketing/sales it had better potential. Despite that, as I mentioned earlier, with every new technology there are unforeseen new glitches and although we have done extensive testing in labs and in the field, we expect new bugs to pop up and we are confident we can resolve them well and very quickly.
Guys, this is an exciting time for us and we are very excited to be finally launching our first set of gear after more than 2.5 years of development. While we go through constant R&D improvements we would love your feedback on these and any other ideas on how to help improve our technology. The benefit of being a small company is that we can take your suggestions, test them out, and apply them to every product yet to be shipped, or even develop totally new products very quickly as we are very nimble. We also have our Inertia camping pad in final development and testing, and plan to have those before the end of the year shipping out, and we plan to have glove inserts as early as Q1 2010 with hydration packs, pants and more to follow very quickly. So please stay tuned to here, our website or our Facebook group for product launches, discounts, competitions and provide us with valuable feedback to help us create the best gear ever.