At this year's ISPO sporting goods awards in Munich, a relatively unknown South Korean outerwear label called BlackYak took home one of the ceremony's top prizes for its Emergency Jacket concept. Created in partnership with Dutch innovations company DSM Dyneema, the featherweight anorak jacket clocks in at only 51 grams in a size medium.
The jacket lacks any sort of pockets, and aside from elastic ribbing on the hood, waist and wrists, the entire body of the waterproof and wind-resistant jacket is crafted from an astonishingly light fabric named Dyneema. There is currently no lighter jacket with a smaller packing volume on the market.
But surely the most intriguing statistic that BlakYak and Dyneema® can point to would speak to the jacket's superior resilience. In fact, Dyneema® possesses around five times more tensile strength than steel by weight, yet can still float on water.
We got BlackYak developer Marcel Geser and the folks from Dyneema® on the line to find out more.
In your own words, what makes the BlackYak “Emergency Jacket” special?
MG: The Emergency Jacket is the lightest fully waterproof jacket on the market. With a weight of only about 51 grams in a size medium or 70 grams in a size large, the volume of the jacket can be packed to fit in any pocket. Even with this small weight and packing volume, it gives the user protection from wind and water, and due to the cubic material it's still quite durable.
When designing the jacket, what types of outdoor conditions did you specifically have in mind?
MG: One of our BlackYak athletes was participating in ultra marathons, and the race's regulations stipulated that every athlete carry a waterproof jacket, even if it's hardly ever used during such an event. We tried to minimize weight and bulk so he had to carry less weight (less then 50 grams). We then adapted this development to be used for mountaineering, for which it is also perfectly suitable.
How long was this product in development?
MG: Development testing and commercialization has taken about 18 months.
What challenges arose in the creation of this product?
MG: At first, we had to get familiar with the light and thin material from a craftsmanship side, but this learning process was fairly quick, and we also provided help to the factory with the knowledge gained during the development process.
How is the Dyneema® fabric manufactured?
Dyneema®: Developed by DSM Dyneema in 1963, the fiber is made from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene or UHMW-PE. The fabric is extraordinarily strong due to a patented gel-spinning process, during which the fibers are drawn, heated, elongated and cooled. Stretching and spinning leads to molecular alignment, high crystallization and low density. The result is a lightweight, high-performance fiber with game-changing properties.
The BlackYak Emergency Jacket will hit retailers in September 2016 for a price of $450. Also don't miss these other Dyneema® products, Outlier's Ultrahigh backpack, and adidas Originals' Ultra Boost "Collective" pack.