17 June 2019
Trekking in the Nepalese mountains tech CEO and adventurer Nikita Gushchin lost his way while heading to the Muktinath temple. Having been taken off route by waterlogged rice fields and rock falls he started heading deeper and deeper into the mountains. Exhausted and soaked to the skin, with no tent, no sleeping bag, no firewood and no path to follow, he found himself with around 30 minutes more daylight.
With night descending and snow coming in, and with no clear route on and no clear route out, his first thought in his own words, was “fuck, I’m dead.” He describes it as “ice cold acceptance without a shadow of emotion.” It sounds fun. While his next thought could easily have been his parents or girlfriend, it was his Graphene Jacket. It’s light. It takes up very little space. He takes it on every adventure. And he remembered it was simply waiting in his bag.
With 30 minutes to go until he lost the sun, he took his jacket out, held it up to the sky, and used the graphene side to catch the last rays of sunlight like a solar sail. With the jacket heated, he then changed into his dry clothes, reversed the Graphene Jacket so the graphene side was now facing in towards him, and put it on.
Graphene can not only store more heat than any other material, but it also conducts heat better than anything else on Earth and can carry heat around your body without any power source. Lab tests have shown that not only can it regulate your skin temperature – sending heat from the hot bits of your body like your head, to the cold bits like your hands – but it can also increase your skin temperature by an average of 2°C.
While 2°C in a lab is an interesting data point, in the remote mountains of Nepal it can be the difference between making it out alive or being chiselled out of an ice block by curious scientists in a couple of thousand years. As he climbed on through the night, the Graphene Jacket kept him warm, dry and alive. And Nikita became the first person we know to use the jacket like a solar panel and turn it into a life-saving device.
This is why 9 months after it launched, and half way through our findings, we’re opening up the test group one final time this week. Over the next few decades graphene is the inevitable base for the strongest and most intelligent clothing ever made, so we’re looking for the smartest people on Earth to take part in the experiment before we disappear back into R&D again.
To understand why this is the last ever run you have to look to the past. If Apple had stuck with the Apple 1, or SpaceX had stuck with the Falcon 1, they wouldn’t be what they are today. The future waits for no-one. If you’re not racing ahead, you’re falling behind. While the Graphene Jacket 1 looks like it’s arrived from the future, we know that as the first ever jacket built with graphene it’s a museum piece in the making. And that’s ok. 43 years after it launched, The Apple 1 computer now looks like something from the 19th century.
While Fast Company hailed the Graphene Jacket as “magical,” and Futurism called it “a grappling hook short of a batsuit,” that’s exactly why we’re heading back into R&D. It’s pretty rare that buying a piece of clothing lets you become part of the history of innovation, but we know this is version 1 of 10. Or even 1 of 100. Every piece of technology has to start somewhere and the first edition of the Graphene Jacket is no different. It’ll take a lot of experimentation to add that extra grappling hook.
Right now the next version won’t be ready for maybe 2 to 3 years, it’s largely theoretical, and it currently costs more to build than a Tesla. So if you want to take part in the future, the Graphene Jacket 1 returns this week. And the next time you see it being sold again will probably be to some museum.