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Nano-weight Clothing That Keeps You Warmer

Nanotechnology research has produced a material used in a number of insulating applications. The material, known as aerogel, can be used in the walls of your house to keep your home warm or in the fibers of your clothing to keep you warm.

Aerogel is composed of nanoparticles interspersed with nanopores filled with air, which makes it one of the best thermal insulators in existence. Companies such as Aspen Aerogels and Cabot have introduced materials using aerogel for outdoor clothing that insulates against extreme temperatures. Nanoscale air pockets in the material keep cold and heat out without adding bulk or weight to the clothing.

Climbers testing jackets using Aspen Aerogels reported that they were comfortable on the top of Mount Blanc at temperatures of –20 to –25 degrees centigrade and in winds of 70 to 80 km per hour.

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Shoe insoles and camping pads are also available using Aspen Aerogels, but a climber who reached the top of Mount Everest wearing Aspen Aerogels insoles reported that her feet were too warm. The companies that were manufacturing jackets a few years ago are not showing them in their product line at this time, possibly because they were also too warm.

Hanes brands may have solved that problem. The company is currently working on incorporating Zero-Loft Aerogel from Aspen Aerogels into a jacket that was spotted at a trade show in early 2011. Their jacket and accompanying pants will be called the Champion Supersuit and will offer the thinnest outerwear for extreme weather ever introduced.

The aerogel in this outerwear is supposed to be more than 99 percent air trapped in tiny chambers that will keep you about four times as warm as that goose down comforter on your bed. This type of thin insulating clothing (only a few millimeters thick) may soon replace those puffy quilted coats seen in chilly climates and on mountain treks, for which the fashion-conscious among us are grateful.

Cabot Corporation has also developed an aerogel-based fabric called Nanogel Thermal Wrap to insulate jackets, gloves, boots, and more.

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