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Pump it up: Jacket has ‘On-Demand insulation’ via inflatable chambers of Air

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Just add air. We’ve covered Klymit LLC before, a Utah company that sells (you heard right) inflatable jackets. They bulk up with air and mutate from “a windbreaker to an insulated ski parka” with a hand pump.

There’s a valve in the hand pocket, and with some pump action the Klymit coats’ air chambers inflate, conforming tight against your body and adding insulation to keep you warm.

This month, the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new model, the Ulaar Jacket, which has a hood, long poly sleeves, and the brand’s signature knurled look.

Ulaar jacket from Klymit

The goal is to make a chameleon of a jacket for mass market sale that can be worn through a huge range of temps. “Our bodies change temperature drastically based on our activity level,” the company notes. “The weather changes all the time; now we can have [a jacket] to meet all situations.”

In addition to air, the Ulaar inflates with argon-gas cartridges. They look like C02 cartridges used to inflate bike tires. Klymit touts argon, which is the same gas type used in dual-pane windows to add insulation value, as making its jackets warmer than they are with regular air.

A note on the hand pump: Klymit ships its jackets with a small rubber squeeze pump that pulls air and forces it into the jacket’s valve. Said a company spokesperson, “It’s important to differentiate between inflating something with your lungs’ moist air, which gets cold, and dry air from a hand pump.”

To release the air pressure in the jacket, there’s a small knob on the chest. You untwist it to let the jacket deflate.

In the field: Jacket gives range of insulating levels, from basic windbreaker to “puffy” jacket in deep cold

The Ulaar jacket, made with a polyester shell fabric with a bamboo/charcoal-impregnated liner, will cost above $300 if the Kickstarter is funded and it comes to market. But the company touts “you immediately save money from [having to purchase] additional layers” with the all-in-one design.

Front and back of hooded Ulaar jacket

Funding ends Nov 9, 2012, for this Kickstarter project. The jacket will only be funded if at least $40,000 is pledged by Friday, Nov 9. Already there are nearly 150 backers, and the company is at about $33,000 as of this writing toward its goal.

—See our story, “High on Argon,” for a detailed interview with Klymit company founder Nate Alder in 2011.

On a mannequin: Body of jacket fully inflatable, inside and out

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