Earlier this month, three college students from Miami University (of Ohio) launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $100,000 for their one-of-a-kind winter jacket using insulation from NASA and used in space suits, Lukla Endeavor jacket. The winter apparel is considered the thinnest, warmest and most breathable jacket of its kind -comfortable from 40 degrees to frigid sub-zero temperatures.
Since it raised its initial goal so quickly, Lukla is now setting its sights on a new goal of $500,000 by April 8th. With the additional support, Lukla believes their product will quickly become the go-to jacket for all adventurers and residents in cold climates.
Co-founder of Lukla, Michael Markesbery stated:
“It’s surreal that an idea that came to us as we were climbing one of the tallest mountains in Europe two years ago is now becoming a reality. The many bulky layers we wore were clumsy and uncomfortable — and we were still cold. We knew there had to be a better solution.”
Once Michael read about aerogel, he and his co-founders experimented with the material and tested hundreds of aerogel formulations over the last two years before settling on the current design.
Aerogel is a synthetic material which is 98.2% air and naturally very breathable and extremely effective as an insulation. Aerogel is used in space vehicles, satellites and even the Alaskan pipeline. In the slim profile Lukla Endeavor jacket, the aerogel lining is only three millimeters thick (about the width of a napkin — less than 1/8th inch), yet it is as warm as 40 millimeters of down.
Prior to the Kickstarter launch, the Lukla team, which also includes Rithvik Venna and Massimiliano Squire, put their jacket through rigorous beta testing. From mountain climbers in Argentina to snowmobilers in Michigan, they wanted to make sure the jacket would keep people warm and comfortable in the coldest conditions. In fact, when testing it using liquid nitrogen, which is -321°F, the inside of the jacket was a toasty 89°F. With the ‘pit zips’ on both sides of the jacket, outside air can come in and circulate to easily adjust the temperature for ultimate comfort.
“Whether you plan to climb Mt. Everest, go skiing, winter camping or just want to be warmer when you shovel the driveway, Lukla is going to change the way you experience the outdoors.”
To make the jacket as fashionable as it is functional, the Lukla team worked with Michael Maiello, a young designer from Milan who created a look that would appeal to men and women.
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