22 May VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: AERIS REVIEW
Product Review – AERIS
This past season we had the opportunity to evaluate and test different products in the extreme winter survival environments we face regularly in our snowcat operator training courses. Several of the instructors at Safety One Training International Inc were looking forward to the product review on the very different new line of outdoor cold weather gear from Aeris, myself included.
Rather than small changes to old materials and designs this companies approach is truly different. It is hard to compare it to anything else on the market except possibly the over-water flight suits and immersion survival suits from Mustang. Mustangs over water suits are awesome for $1300 and meet FR requirements while providing much more freedom of motion than their more familiar immersion survival suits (commonly worn only when abandoning a ship).
Aeris has used a lighter and more pliable form of neoprene like material for their suits. Unlike neoprene though there material does provide some breath-ability, quite remarkable! The suits are cut quite large (read bulky) but this of course provides room for extra undergarments—the only thing is that extra undergarments would seldom be needed in the temperatures encountered working outdoors in the lower 48 states, this stuff is warm.
It has the other distinctive advantage of being seemingly unaffected by exposure to large amounts of water from the most drenching downpour (the one you didn’t expect when you began your tower climb in the morning). The manufacturer’s have done testing with subjects jumping into frozen lakes and getting out and reporting being warm again within minutes. Although having been in this situation with similar gear I might question the description of “warm” but I fully believe that within minutes the wearer would get adequate insulation from just this layer to avoid the possibility of hypothermia.
Oddly the manufacturer warns against spandex and wool in recommending the base/wicking layers underneath claiming they will contribute to the user being cold, but maybe they know something about wool in this particular application that we don’t. Spandex can always be questionable due to the constriction of blood flow to the surface of the skin, however companies like Under Armor seem to be making a success of it!
Back to the main topic though which is the suitability of this new product. 1st impression if I was working near or over cold water I think I would buy this now. For other applications I would wait until we perform some additional testing. The Safety One Training Enviro-chamber is nearly complete and test temperatures are reaching -10F.