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Ultimate ski jackets

Klymit, a startup from BYU, uses gas to insulate outdoor sports apparel.

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FSB co-sponsored Rice University's prestigious national competition for the first time this year. The winners took home a total of $327,000 in prize money, plus priceless bragging rights. Meet all 36 semifinalists below. Photographs by Evan Kafka for FSB.

(FSB Magazine) Houston -- Second place team: Klymit
What it does: Uses gas to insulate outdoor sports apparel
Founders: Nate Alder; Nick Sorensen, 24; Brady Woolford, 29; Ben Maughan, 25
School: Brigham Young
Launched: February 2007

Alder's prototype windbreaker contains a series of connected, airtight chambers. A cartridge the size of a lipstick case, filled with pressurized argon, is sewn into a pocket or seam. Turn a knob and the gas flows into the chambers. Its large molecules block the cold and keep in the heat, yet it fattens the jacket by no more than ten millimeters. Turn the valve the other way and the gas escapes, letting the skier cool down. One cartridge lasts about a full season on the slopes and costs about $15.

Klymit has letters of intent from three top sports brands that want to license the patented technology for use in jackets, boots, snow pants, and sleeping bags. Klymit has also filed patents to use the insulation, which not only keeps out heat or cold but also dampens sound, in homes and automobiles. Stephen Watkins, founder of Entrex, a financial data firm based in Chicago and a contest judge, warns that "Klymit must stay focused and not become distracted by all the market opportunities presented by its technology."

An undaunted Alder says, "Like Velcro, it's a simple solution to a big problem." To top of page

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