Here's the craziest new technology we've seen in a while: argon-inflatable clothing and sleeping pads by Klymit. The gist: Argon is a widely available and safe gas that's created by extracting the heavy molecules out of the air. Klymit has harnessed the insulation ability (which is allegedly way higher than even the finest-quality down) of these molecules by blowing them into the two products they are launching this week: a vest and an inflatable sleeping pad.
First, the Red Rock Vest ($200): In it's deflated mode, it's a sleek looking waterproof softshell vest. To puff it up and make it warm, attach the little (about 3 inches tall) argon canister and push the button (kind of reminds me of the whip-its I saw other kids doing in high school). This fills the chambers with argon, and you now magically have a vest that's good for the dead of winter.
Argon-insulated clothing is impervious to wet conditions (unlike down and fiber fills) and it even has some bouyancy to it (though it's not, the company assured us, Coast-Guard approved). The Inertia Pad ($150) can be inflated with your breath for warm weather use or with argon for winter use. Klymit claims it will be the lightest and most compact pad on the market.
The company is currently offering a 25% discount for pre-orders (check out their website for more details), so if you're a gear wonk who always has to have the latest, get yours now. And rest assured, our orders are placed--we'll be testing this stuff as soon as possible and will let you know how it works!