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New hoodie liner for ski shell

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hey Guys!


I'm Christopher and I work as a product designer. We're currently developing a patent pending air valve for jacket insulation that uses the wearer's own breath and we would love to get some feedback from the ski community. right now our design works with an inflatable liner that covers the shoulders, neck and head, and adds only a few ounces to the shell's weight. This design would allow the wearer to adjust the level of insulation around the neck and head easily with the warm air already coming from their own lungs. air-tight fabric is not very breathable which is why this liner would only be placed around the head/neck. Below is a rough model of what it will look like when turned INSIDE OUT for better visualization. (model is missing the zipper on the face piece). we're about ready to start hard prototyping but are just looking to gauge interest before moving forward. We're a small company and don't want to move forward with the innovation if there is no interest. Any and all help is appreciated! thanks!


looking for:

what do you like about the idea?


what do you dislike?


what would you change?


thanks again.

post #2 of 21

Your design is basically an inflatable dickie/balaclava combo 

Hood  must be helmet compatible ie- BIG. 

Hole for exhaled breath

FWIW I wouldn't buy it

post #3 of 21

Do you frequently need to breathe into the device to keep the air warm?


How cold are the temps under which the device has been tested?


I guess the hood goes under a helmet.

post #4 of 21

Most helmets are pretty toasty. Having helmet compatibility seems like it would be silly big or lose effectiveness because of the helmet. Neckwarmers keep the neck area warm and also add style. A hoodie add-on doesn't seem very fashionable from my POV.


How about condensation dissipation?


Not my cup of tea but keep at it!


EDIT: Removed part of my post for not being relevant. 

Edited by Snuckerpooks - 10/13/16 at 9:50pm
post #5 of 21

I am imagining that your device cycles exhaled air in and out as you breathe.  Is that right?  Your breathing replenishes the cooled down air with new warm air, yes?  So there must be a way to get the warm exhaled air into it, and a way to allow the cooled air out.  Does the air going in use the same aperture as the air escaping?


A helmet is very warm all by itself.  So inflating something under the helmet is not necessary, especially if the material is vinyl or something non-porous.  I imagine that extra sweat will be generated from the scalp if this device is non-porous.  How does your design avoid extra sweat collecting uncomfortably under that helmet?


A helmet should fit snugly.  I suspect the device won't inflate at all under the helmet because it will be compressed.  If it's not, then the helmet doesn't fit snugly, and that isn't good.


The things people use in cold weather to keep their faces and necks and ears warm now are neck gaiters, head bands, balaclavas, face masks, and bandanas.  A fleece neck gaiter works for most people; it fits down under the jacket collar and up to the helmet in back.  It can be pulled up over the chin and mouth, and combined with a head band that covers the ears.  A bandana can do some of what a neck gaiter does.  A balaclava worn under the helmet does the same, with more effectiveness covering the ears and chin.  On sub-zero days a neoprene face mask keeps the ears, nose, mouth and cheeks warm.  Can you describe how your device would improve warmth in the area of the ears, neck, cheeks, and chin, over those options?


Breathing into a neoprene face mask is yukky; it gets wet where the mouth and nose exhale moist air into it, and it stinks by mid-day.  It has holes for that exhaled air to escape, but the left over moisture stuck to the inside of the neoprene is just nasty.  How does your device allow you to breathe moist air into it, and where does it escape?  Are you designing it to avoid the unpleasantness I just described?


I'm willing to buy any product that offers more efficient warmth in these areas of the body, as I ski in very cold weather and hate being cold.  Good luck with your endeavor.   

post #6 of 21

Love the creativity, but breath is warm and moist, the design is going to create nothing more than a water sack that needs to be drained.  Ewww.  :drool  Anything that holds air also won't let sweat out so you stay dry, a big no-no for emergency survivability should you get injured or stuck where you can't generate body heat.



Skip the breath recycling, focus on a channelized air layer that has gaps for breathability and is removable for laundering.  Even then it's a bit gimmicky and may be hard to sell.

post #7 of 21

Doesn't sound like insulation air is being constantly replenished/recycled, so it shouldn't create a large water sack. Once filled, it's your body heat that continue to warms it - using the word "warm" in describing the initial filling is a bit misleading. 

Whole thing seems not much of an improvement of current insulation materials, though ...... unless it serves as a floatation device in n avalanche/stream dunking! (AKA BD's Avalung)

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies! 

I would like to try and address a few of the good questions brought up so far. 


Yes, the idea has been tested, but not by us yet. Several companies have tested similar technology, and the insulation benefits with air has some great data behind it. NuDown claims a temperature improvement of up to 40 degrees (f) in their new line of inflatables and We'dz claims similar.


This hood would be designed similarly to what is currently on the market in terms of helmet compatibility. i.e. it will be roomy enough to fit over a helmet, but will have a draw string to cinch it down when not wearing a helmet. The gaps in the hood will be large enough to allow the hood to breath, and be comfortably cinched down with the draw string. 


The hood is designed to hold air indefinitely. So there will be no need for continually breathing into the system. breathability is absolutely an issue with air tight fabrics, but being a typical hoodie that is inflatable, the idea is that you can just deflate it if you get hot, and put it down when you get sweaty. 


As far as the water sac, we believe this wont be an issue, as it will be similar to an inflatable sleeping pad. There will be some moisture, but not enough to build up, and it should evaporate quickly, and not become a freezing issue. This is something we are testing with the valve currently.


The main reason we focused on a breathable valve, is weight; we do not want to add undue weight to the jacket, which an air pump would add. NuDown has a pump, and the weight is a major downside, (as well as breathability). One of the main benefits of this product besides superior warmth, would be cutting down on the amount of "stuff" one needs to pack. scarves, balaclavas, gaiters, etc... 


The jacket is being designed so that their will be a gap in the liner in front of the mouth where the zipper is, and two discrete exhaust ports so that breath will not go immediately up, but rather down and out of the face piece. This provides two benefits; you maintain wind protection for your nose and mouth, and it will limit the fogging on your goggles. 


Also I should mention the hood, and neck portions will be able to be inflated separately.


I apologize for not having a better image, but there will be one soon. I'm working with our 3D modeler to get a better mock up to show more detail. 


As for the "gimmickey" aspect, sometimes it's hard to tell if a new innovation is simply a gimmick or a really good idea. That's why I would like to get as much knowledgeable opinion as possible before moving too far forward. 


You guys are awesome, please keep the feedback coming!

post #9 of 21

You really have two products here, an innovative air warmed/inflatable hood and shoulders dickie/balaclava as Castle Dave called it, and a jacket.


If I don't like the fit, features, or function of the jacket then I will not be purchasing regardless of how innovative the inflatable hood/face protector/balaclava part turns out, so why not just produce an innovative balaclava?

post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

That's a great question DanoT, and it lets me explain the genesis of this idea a bit. The biggest reason we're not going with a balaclava is because we are designing this mainly to be as user friendly and give people better control over there changing insulation needs based on their level of immediate exertion. For instance; when I'm skiing, I typically am working hard and getting warm, and do not want a balaclava or scarf on. really all I need is my jacket zipped up all the way on cold days, or unzipped on warmer days. But when sitting on the chair lift, I can immediately put up my hood and inflate to a desired level to keep from cooling off too much. That's the idea at least. I think an inflatable balaclava or scarf doesn't address the issue that some people simply don't want to wear all that on their head, or neck all day. Which is really the question; is this a problem people would like to see solved?


Thanks man!

post #11 of 21
With a hood over the helmet, you are either going to have the helmet rotating under the hood, interfering with your peripheral vision, or your head movement will be constrained, or there's going to be a lot of excess material around the neck. Plus you're building what is going to be ten times the price of a balaclava to perform the function of a $15 balaclava. A separate gaiter or balaclava has the advantage of being easily removed or added mid day without having to wear a large backpack to switch out jackets when the weather changes. Since skiing is a sport where you're going from sometimes being overheated due to exertion, to being freezing as you dangle on a chair that's stopped, the ability to switch layers easily and rapidly is important. It's not like you're sitting still ice fishing.
post #12 of 21
It's an interesting idea, and I'm sure it's very warm, but if it's inflatable, I'm assuming it has zero breathability. I pay a lot of money for jackets that are both breathable and water proof, so no breathability would disqualify it from consideration for me.
post #13 of 21

@brindleworks ,

It sounds like you've got it all figured out.  People here could give more useful responses if they had a better idea of what you've decided upon in your design.  

How about getting us some better graphics that picture a skier wearing the item outdoors, one with the hood up and inflated, and another with the hood not in use.  

Oh, and another image showing the inside area of the hood that sits in front of your mouth/nose area.  

Another image should show the fixture that you blow into to fill it with air, and it should indicate where on the hood that fixture is. 

post #14 of 21

I already have 3 ski jackets so on a really cold day after an uncomfortable chairlift ride, I might purchase a high tech balaclava but not a new jacket, just sayin.

post #15 of 21

The lack of breeathability  is a big concern, especially around the head and neck area.  At least for me, that's the first place I get sweaty, even wearing a helmet with vents open.  I have an Outdoor Research waterproof baseball cap, very light weight and I use it when it's wet-snowing and I'm skinning uphill - the big problem I have with this hat is that even though it keeps my head dry from the wet snow, my head is absoulutely soaked from the lack of breathability - and this is just covering the top of my head.  Having something that's not breathable covering my entire head and neck might be unbearably sweaty.  You might be on to something for use in very cold climates during low aerobic activity - but still think you need to figure out some air flow or breathability.  Good luck, I hope it works out.

post #16 of 21
I wonder about the physics. 1) air molecules will move around far more than with traditional insulation like down. That means heat will be lost to the outer barrier much faster. This is not analogous to micro layers between head and helmet, for instance, or base layer and sweater. So have you calculated what kind of insulation values this will have, compared to current products? I doubt it's very significant.

2) Warm humid air from the lungs will just create a wet or even frozen layer inside the outer barrier that's in contact with a shell. That will begin to compromise the interior insulator values. There's a big literature from all the way back to WWII about this. Your product will require venting - that's why Inuit can do heavy work in frigid conditions and not have their parkas freeze up, which is why the Army studied them - and if it does, the entire idea either is nulled since it's not continuously insulative, or it becomes complicated to a point where you're talking more about a marine style application.

For instance, how do you make sure that the user keeps breathing into the hoodie/parka, whatever it is? Think about how we breathe when we ski. Does the user have to wear a mouthpiece? What happens if he/she wants to open their mouth? If, as you say, it doesn't have to be continuously recharged, what happens to the mouthpiece when not in service?

3) How reliable will your valve and seams be? All it takes is a small leak, like from a tree branch or a good fall, or ordinary wear and tear, and your product is a shell inside a shell. Also, you claim freezing up will not be an issue, but since it is with simple values such as used with hydration bladders, how is yours better without being heavy?

4) I also wonder about the microbiology. How do you get rid of all that internal moisture from breathing into it, unless the user wants to wear a cool new science project in which he/she is rebreathing or drinking the microbiota? I think your assumption that there won't be much moisture is simply wrong. You will need a filter, and it will have to be serviced or replaced periodically, yes?

Executive summary: Unclear value. Get back to us with the actual insulation values under field conditions. Oh, and rip open a mouth inflatable mattress or such, do a swab on a Petrie Dish, send pics in two weeks. 😉
Edited by beyond - 10/15/16 at 8:47pm
post #17 of 21

Nice! Can it be adapted or hooked up to the warm exhaust of a crack pipe? If so, please put me on the preorder list. That said, sounds like a crack pipe had a hand in the inspiration of design in the first place. :)



Ahhhh the Gronk!

post #18 of 21
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post

Ahhhh the Gronk!



post #19 of 21

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback! This seems similar to what we've got from other surveys so probably will be put on the back burner for now. Thanks again everyone.
post #21 of 21

True story:


One day I was racing and playing host to this French kid, Andre, who was staying with my family and racing with us for the weekend. While technical body English was not an issue for this kid whatsoever, he spoke very poor English. One early morning we were on a North facing chairlift that was windy and blistering cold and, although I couldn't make out a word, I knew exactly what he was saying. "Suck de blue! Putain c'est la shit congélation" = to me that he was cold. He was not well prepared and had no balaclava under his hood. I pointed to my neck and through the wind yelled "balaclava! balaclava!". "Get one in the Lodge" pointing down at it. He said "ahh" smiled and nodded his recognition. He skied off at the top to go do just that. I met him in the lift line three runs later and loaded together. I tried to convey that he looked "happier ... warmer". He smiled back nodding and I felt satisfied that he was all set. Halfway up the lift we hit the sun hard and could feel things nicely warm up a bit. I started noticing the smell something sweet like my Mom's homemade baked apple pie. I turned to Andre and tried to ask him if he smelled it too. He said, of course "wee wee". he then pulled out a sticky piece of baklava out from between his neck and hood and took a bite out of it.

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