Graphene has been in the spotlight a lot these days. Not only is this Nobel prize winning material super, it may offer natural protection against mosquitoes too, when woven into wearables – great news for those who like or must spend time outdoors. But as it turns out, graphene has a number of amazing other properties too. It is really the stuff ultimate gear dreams are made of.
On the hopes and promises of good news and indicators, the apparel startup, Vollebak, has gone and done it – they moved forward to create the world’s first graphene jacket.
What is Graphene?
Let’s start with the basics to understand why this jacket is so special, so damn expensive, and why in my book, it’s truly a must have. Graphene is completely invisible at only one atom thick (it is the thinnest possible layer of graphite – like your pencil tip). It is the lightest, strongest, and most conductive material discovered to date – are you convinced yet that it’s a super material? Its strength lies in its hexagonal structure and formation.
My favorite anecdote about graphene is that the material is so strong and stretchy, that if a spider web were to be coated with it, it could catch a falling plane.
And you probably guessed correctly that it is also extremely expensive – at least to produce at scale. Oh, and it is also very difficult to work with. For the most part, graphene calls research labs, home. The apparel startup is betting that graphene will be a big deal and breakthrough wearable. They released the first graphene-coated jacket. At this stage, the jackets are considered as experimental prototypes (you should know this if you decide to buy one), and hope that the public will in part help uncover the material’s merits.
Part jacket and part science experiment
Vollebak is okay with the fact their jacket is somewhat of an open-ended experiment: they feel it’s a continuation of the tradition of graphene – since the original experiments that founded the Nobel prize winning material were not foreseen. Therefore, the company wants the jacket out in the world and in the hands of early adopters.
The Vollebak Graphene jacket is reversible with only one of the sides coated in the super material. This has been done intentionally to see what variations the jacket will produce (interactions with the wearer and with nature). Thus, there is no inside nor outside – only one side with graphene, and one without.
Jacket is fully reversible, practical, and functional
Graphene has an awesome look to it and is gun-metal grey in appearance. The non-graphene side of the jacket is matte-black and Italian-made from high-strength and high-stretch nylon. The graphene is turned into nanoplatelets and then blended with a polyurethane. This in turn, is then bonded with the nylon to create an entirely new material. And the process doesn’t even add a single gram of weight to the jacket.
The jacket also features reversible pockets for practicality and function whichever way you choose to wear it. The panels on the jacket have been cut with lasers in order to avoid any waste of the material, but it’s done so precisely, that the edges do not require stitching at all. The panels are bonded together with sealed waterproof seams. There are also welded eyelets under the arms, bonded cuffs, and an elastic drawcord on the hood and waist.
A wearable radiator
Graphene is the best material conductor of heat on earth, so naturally, wearing the graphene side next to the body will keep you warm in cold weather – it distributes the heat from your body evenly around.
Here’s another cool fact … since graphene can absorb heat, you can use the jacket like a radiator by leaving the graphene side out in the sun or hanging it over a heat source. This next part is actually still a mystery … no one understands how yet, but the jacket also lowers the humidity next to your body during physical activity – making it waterproof (to 10,000 mm) and breathable too.
This graphene jacket is lightweight, windproof, waterproof, and mixed with 15% elastane for stretching, bacteria resistant, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, anti-static … in short, it’s pretty much all but bulletproof (which they can actually do and would take another 9 layers of graphene to achieve). It is available for here for just under $700 USD