It seems like every piece of gear we use is getting more high tech and versatile with each passing year. This could include our tents if a press release from a team from Harvard is to be believed. Researchers at the venerable and highly respected university report that they have created a new material that has unique and adaptive qualities that could have a huge impact on a number of products, including our tried and true wilderness shelters.
While the description of the new material sounds like something right out of science fiction, it seems that it is very real and will be coming to the marketplace in the future. The press release says that the “bioinspired material is a continuous liquid film that coats, and is infused in, an elastic porous substrate,” which sounds like a lot of buzzwords to me. But those qualities are what gives this material its unusual properties, which will make it very exciting to use in any number of innovative new products.
So, just what will this new fabric bring to our tents? Apparently it will have the ability to shift from being translucent to opaque automatically, as well as shift from being more breathable to completely waterproof, entirely on its own. The material is smart enough to shift with changing conditions as needed, making for more versatile gear. The article says “imagine a tent that blocks light on a dry and sunny day, and becomes transparent and water-repellent on a dim, rainy day.” That sounds like a useful feature that could have a big impact on our future adventures into the backcountry.
Obviously it’ll be some time before we actually see this new material used in any products, but the potential is certainly there. It should be intriguing to see how this develops into useful gear down the line.
Thanks to my friend Sean McLachlan for sharing this at Gadling.com.
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