Marmot's bright idea

A mountaineering jacket that lights up in the dark is being developed.

Gear makers Marmot have teamed up with W.L. Gore & Associates, the Advance Development Group and the Novate ch Electro-Luminescent, of California, to create Phenomenon EL.

This advance concept garment features the latest development in safety and close proximity illumination for the wearer without any adverse weight penalty.

Electroluminescent (EL) panels are strategically integrated into the Marmot waterproof/breathable all-weather Gore-Tex performance shell to provide visibility and identification at great distance at night.

Marmot say the jacket will provide greater safety and visibility in all directions during storms for mountain professionals such a guides and ski patrollers, and quicker, more accurate location and identification for emergency service units like mountain rescue teams and rescue helicopter crews.

The EL panels on the sleeves can also be used to illuminate an immediate area around the wearer to perform tasks like map reading.

Electroluminescence is the conversion of electrical energy into light. It was developed in 1936 and found commercial application in the early 1960's in illuminated aircraft instrument dials. Since then, it has been applied in a broad range of products, ranging from consumer products to telecommunications, cars, safety equipment and functional architectural applications.

In 1987, US Coast Guard research concluded that EL lighting is more conspicuous than point source navigation lighting. EL light is shadowless, homogeneous, can be shaped to fit into small places, available in many colors, does not produce heat, is insensitive to shock, is weatherproof and is flexible. It has never been integrated as wearable technology into high performance waterproof/breathable outerwear until now.

"The Phenomenon EL jacket is a true cutting edge concept garment," said Jim Frazier, vice-president of design for Marmot.

"It is awesome looking and it works, but we have only just begun serious field trials for the functionality, durability and longevity of the system. We have to make sure the full system is reliable in all conditions as the Marmot team athletes and professional mountain guides will push this piece to the very edge of it's performance envelope and it can not fail. This piece represents a major break through in garment design and development and will initiate a whole new field of products for the outdoor enthusiast. In the next several months, we'll be previewing the Phenomenon EL concept garment internationally at the same time as our Fall 2004 Outerwear Collections as a glimpse of things to come."

Novatech is a specialty electroluminescence (EL) manufacturer that developed the EL lighting panels on the Phenomenon EL Jacket. Marmot's Project Group developed the Phenomenon EL garment and integrated the EL system into it.