Vollebak's New Jacket Blends Science and Design

Billions of microscopic glass beads illuminate this ski and snowboard shell in nanoseconds

Author

Graham Hiemstra

Founded in the U.K. just over a year ago by twin bothers with a shared love for adventure and science, Vollebak makes wildly tech outerwear unlike anything you’ve seen before. From audio-enabled hoodies that help you relax during times of high stress to indestructible apparel that’s pretty much just everything proof, each new drop is crazier than the last. And the latest is no less interesting.

The Blue Morpho Jacket is a waterproof ski and snowboard shell designed for hyper high-visibility, with a surface that mirrors light conditions. Inspired by the iridescent Blue Morpho butterfly—a bizarre little insect with wings covered in microscopic scales that effectively shift color constantly, making it perceptible from over a kilometer away—the eponymous jacket relies on over two billion microscopic glass spheres embedded in the jacket’s surface with resin to achieve the same effect.

When light hits the jacket, the effectively invisible glass spheres reflect it, making the jacket appear as if it itself is emitting light.

In subdued light conditions, the jacket appears matte “ocean” blue. Whereas in sunshine or under a bright light, it instantly transforms into a metallic blue. A camera flash will create a liquid-like effect, whereas direct sunlight will shift and warp with movement. Not entirely sure of the exact use case for the jacket—perhaps an emergency backcountry situation, cycling in inclement weather, or for filming sick GoPro footage with your bros?—but dang, it sure trippy, man.

Either way, it comes complete with rubberized and reinforced waterproof zippers, a helmet-compatible hood, articulated arms and shoulder to accommodate movement while wearing a backpack, and two sizable chest pockets for gloves and goggles and other junk you should probably have left in the car instead.

Published 10-13-2017

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