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Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

Klymit launches their first products based on their noble gas inflation technology.

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by Mike Martin | 2009-07-28 00:02:00-06

Editor's Note: This article was opened to the public on July 22, 2010. To subscribe and see Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 articles as they are published, click here.

Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 1
Aimed at backpackers, the Red Rock variant of the Kinetic vest uses a 40 denier Nylon Dobby shell to minimize weight and packed size (shown inflated).

I first reported on the Klymit inflatable insulation technology a year ago at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, 2008. They were developing an apparel insulation technology based on filling a flexible bladder with noble gas, such as Argon. Klymit claims the system to be more compressible and provides a higher warmth-per-thickness ratio than conventional fiber insulations, while allowing the user to adjust the volume of insulation - and therefore warmth - on the fly. At the time, Klymit was still developing their noble gas technology, seeking partners, and showing prototypes. This year, they are launching their first product... and it's targeted at lightweight backpackers and packrafters.

In addition to the actual garment, a Klymit system also includes a "Klymitizer" inflator, and one or more "HotShot Kanisters" of Argon gas. The Klymitizer weighs 1.6 ounces (45 grams) and each HotShot cartridge contains 8 grams of Argon and weighs 2.0 ounces (58 grams) when full. Each cartridge is said to provide five inflations of the Kinetic vest in size medium. In some applications, the vest could be pre-inflated and the inflator plus cartridges could conceivably be left at the trailhead and not affect packed weight. However, you'd then lose the ability to adjust the amount of insulation on the fly, and the packed size of the fully inflated vest would increase dramatically.

Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 2
The 45-gram "Klymitizer" inflator.

Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 3
The 58-gram Argon cartridge contains 8 grams of gas and provides 5 inflations.

The all-inclusive weight of the system is 260 grams for a medium Red Rock vest, 45 grams for the inflator, and 58 grams for a cartridge. This totals 363 grams (12.8 ounces). A weight-conscious backpacker certainly has many conventional synthetic and down-filled alternative garments available at or below this weight. It's the unique ability to adjust the Klymit insulation on the fly to match conditions and exertion levels that may justify its weight penalty, allowing it to be used both in camp and on the move. Also, bear in mind that unlike fiberfill and especially goose down, the Klymit system is not affected by moisture. A hiker wearing a Red Rock vest could potentially improve his overall efficiency by reducing or eliminating layering changes in cold rain or snow.

For packrafters, Klymit is also launching the Amphibian version of the Kinetic vest. The Amphibian features a non-absorbent 40x50 denier shell fabric that dries quickly once out of the water. Klymit does not market the Kinetic vest towards, nor is it USCG certified as, nor even designed to be, a Personal Floatation Device (PFD). Nevertheless, a size medium Kinetic vest contains approximately three liters of gas when fully inflated, which provides almost seven pounds of buoyancy. For comparison, a foam USCG Type III PFD provides a minimum of 15.5 pounds of buoyancy. Still, perhaps the Kinetic vest could provide supplemental floatation when used with an appropriately certified PFD for watersports. Lacking an appropriate PFD, packrafters on flat water, who might otherwise consider stuffing a sleeping pad inside their clothing for floatation, may want to take a hard look at the Amphibian as an alternative.

[Note: neither the author nor Backpacking Light advocate operating any watercraft without wearing an appropriately certified Personal Floatation Device.]

Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 4
The Amphibian version of the Kinetic vest features a quick-drying shell for watersports use (shown deflated).



Red (Red Rock), Blue (Amphibian)

  Weight of Vest, size Medium (claimed):

9.2 oz (260 g)

  Weight of Inflator (claimed):

1.6oz (45 g)

  Weight of Argon Cartridge (claimed):

2.1 oz (58 g)

  Inflated Gas Volume:

approx. 3 Liters

  Fills Per Cartridge:

approx. 5


August 2009


$199 (Includes vest, inflator, and three gas cartridges)


"Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)," by Mike Martin. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-07-28 00:02:00-06.


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Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/28/2009 19:45:28 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

Dylan Skola
(phageghost) - F

Locale: Southern California
Pretty nifty concept but . . . on 07/28/2009 20:12:12 MDT Print View

obviously, by definition, the gas bladder is not going to be breathable at all, and will act as a vapor barrier. Any areas covered by the gas bladder are going to get damp pretty quick, thus negating the prime benefit of adjusting insulation on-the-fly.

Unless of course the bladder is not continuous, as in a lattice-type configuration, but this would add more weight, still not be very breathable, and reduce the insulating value.

Any thoughts?

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Pretty nifty concept but . . . on 07/28/2009 23:27:56 MDT Print View

I have not tested the Kinetic vest, so this is speculation:

The prototype jacket I saw last year had a bladder made from a wp/b material. I don't know if the Kinetic bladder is "breathable" or not. Still, I agree, that breathability is a big concern - even with a wp/b bladder - with vapor having to migrate through two layers of material.

Melinda Carlson-Smith
(outsidemel) - F
Breathability on 07/29/2009 12:42:50 MDT Print View

There is a way better explaination from the CEO of Klymit on this thread:

Edited by outsidemel on 08/01/2009 11:29:12 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/29/2009 12:54:07 MDT Print View

How much weight can the bladder take, for example, can I use it as a sleeping pad, or part of a sleeping pad system ?

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Klymit Kinetic Vest on 07/29/2009 18:22:04 MDT Print View

I'm willing to bet big bucks ($3.50) that this Rube Goldberg, super-high tech, excessively complicated item bombs, and bombs big time. Ever hear of KISS?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Klymit Kinetic Vest on 07/30/2009 01:22:38 MDT Print View

I don't get it.
Way to complicate one of the few items in my kit that works just fine: goose down stuffed in nylon.

Wasn't it The North Face that once released the battery-powered electric jacket? Yeah, haven't seen many of them in the mountains...

But maybe I'm all backwards and these things are merely a precursor...

Andy Davison
(FurTech) - M
Klymit Condensation on 07/30/2009 02:57:48 MDT Print View

Sounds interesting. Are there any reports o condensation withing the vests? If so, does it dry quickly?

Edited by FurTech on 07/30/2009 02:59:35 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Klymit Kinetic Vest (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/30/2009 17:42:00 MDT Print View

A few thoughts: It looks like a substantial amount of the weight is for the inflator and cartridge. This makes the choice of a vest somewhat curious. I think a full jacket would make more sense. Folks should also keep in mind that this is a synthetic jacket (not down) so it doesn't have the moisture disadvantages of down (you can get this thing soaked and it doesn't matter). This leads me to wonder about a sleeping bag configuration. If the weight of the bag is not very much, then the overall weight (including the extra weight of the cartridge and inflator) still might be less than a comparable synthetic bag. Ideally (if the material is really light) then you could carry one cartridge/inflator for much of your insulated gear (jacket, pants, sleeping bag, and, as Cameron suggested, sleeping pad).

Speaking of which, the sleeping pad part seems the easiest to master. Couldn't you just inflate a simple, inflatable pad (e.g. Clearview) but fill it with this gas? The fabric wouldn't have to be breathable (like the sweater) but only strong and light (maybe thick Cuben)?

Nate Alder
(Klymit) - F
Klymit CEO message on 08/01/2009 10:54:30 MDT Print View

Hey guys, my name is Nate Alder, I am the founder of this little venture we call Klymit and we are actually doing a lot of Q&A on the other thread here on this site. We are answering a lot of your questions there so I would like to invite you there to learn more about how it all works and answer your super well thought valuable questions. here is the link I think it should work:

See you there!! :)

Larry Tullis
(Larrytullis) - F - M

Locale: Wasatch Mountains
Inflatable sleeping bag on 08/06/2009 08:35:01 MDT Print View

A similar concept in a sleeping bag came out years ago and then disappeared (sin argon gas). The bag was waterproof, inflatable, down filled and was constructed from lightweight, heat-sealable, air-retensive fabric, and about 5 pounds and $600. They claimed you could sleep in icy water and stay warm. Probably not enough sales, although for some cold/wet expeditions, it would be ideal. Vapor barrier strategies obviously required. If your Alpacka raft got shredded by a bear you could also paddle your sleeping bag down the river!!!

On a side note, I like my Marmot Gore-tex down bag and wish someone would build a combo of the two, a waterproof/breathable/down upper with a an inflatable/bathtub shape/down-filled/waterproof bottom. the weight gain would be offset by no need for a bivy sack/tent (just use raingear over head). No sleeping pad or groundcloth needed either. Add thicker inflatable head area for side sleeper pillow and have a super-luxurious, "sleep number" cradle for ultralight use. Have the thing fold origami-style into a water resistant backpack too if you want. Probably not practical and obviously would be expensive, but I can dream can't I?

Edited by Larrytullis on 08/06/2009 08:38:47 MDT.