Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Insulation Warmer than Down?

Last week, Robin of Backpackbasecamp.com (http://www.backpackbasecamp.com/basecamp/blogengine.net/) was kind enough to stop by and commented on my NeoAir thread about Argon filled sleeping pads which will hit the market very soon. She even has a nice article and video about it on her website. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I figured it would be appropriate merely to redirect you to her site.

Argon is a widely available and safe inert gas which creates warmth by extracting the heavy molecules out of the air and is alleged to create warmth greater than even the finest-quality down. Argon is impervious to wet conditions and even has some buoyancy. In years past, it was used in wetsuits and window insulation with great success, so it is no surprise that it had made the leap to backpacking. Personally, I think this represents a pretty interesting product for lightweight backpacking, but it does have some limitations which includes the potential to leak and the need to inflate the item after each use with a pressurized Argon-filled container similar in size and concept to a CO2.

Klymit (http://klymit.com/store/) of Utah is spearheading this effort and they are presently taking preorders for pads and vests at a 25% discount. Please note, this discount is only available through July 31st. And if you were wondering, no…they don’t make XXLs so I’ll sit on the sidelines for this one.


Robin said...

Thanks for the reference to my site. It is exciting to see some new technologies being applied to backpacking gear. I'm not sure Argon is the answer but it is bound to light a fire under some of the bigger companies and hopefully get things moving.

BackpackBaseCamp .com

Jared said...

I don't know about the practicality of carrying something that has to be inflated and deflated and can only be filled 5 times with one cartridge. The jacket at 300 grams weighs just over 10oz plus whatever the weight of the canister is. Which is fairly heavy for the lightweight side of life. My synthetic vest and base layer weighs as much as the vest alone, and I've never needed more than that combo down to freezing. If I'll be out in that low of temps I'd just carry an 8oz down jacket and I'd probably sweat to death. Just my 2 cents...

Jolly Green Giant said...

Jared, I completely agree. At the very least, it's a relatively new concept that may evolve into something worthwhile. To me, the act of inflating, deflating, and carrying cannisters would drive me crazy. Argon is a pretty unique gas however, and apparently it has insulating qualities that can only be rivaled by solid Aerogel. Pacific Outdoors makes a sleeping pad with the Aerogel material which came out last year, but it isn't solid (per se) as it is in patches throughout the pad only in designated area. The pad, much like the Argon vests, may not represent the best option for lightweight backpackers, but it is nice to see manufacturers stretch the limits of materials and new innovation.