I’ve been hearing about graphene for close to a decade now, and if you ever read the kind of pop-sci articles that your parents share with you on Facebook, then perhaps you have as well.
It is a wonder material, and as a tech nerd, I’m excited to see the many real-world applications. But are we there yet? Is graphene affordable enough to be used in consumer applications like jackets? That’s what I set out to find out, and unfortunately, I’m going to spoil this right away and say that I’m still not exactly sure.
But for starters…
What is graphene?
Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms bonded together in a hexagonal lattice. It’s an allotrope of carbon, which means it’s made of the same atoms as things like diamonds and graphite, but arranged differently. Graphene was first isolated in 2004 by a team of researchers at the University of Manchester, and they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their work.
Graphene is an extremely strong material. It’s been measured to be about 200 times stronger than steel, making it the strongest material known to man. It’s also flexible, light, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.
Due to its unique properties, graphene has the potential to be used in a variety of applications, including electronic devices, sensors, energy storage, and more.
My review of the GAMMA jacket
I’ve been testing the GAMMA jacket that launched from an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. Allegedly it contains around 10% graphene, embedded into the fabric. On Reddit, this is a point of contention, with many people debating whether that’s true or not. And since I most certainly don’t have the equipment to detect whether the GAMMA contains any graphene at all, well… I’m left with reviewing the jacket itself. So after having tested it for the past few months, here’s what I think.
- The jacket is fairly warm and seems to do a good job at blocking the wind: I’ve worn it on some fairly cold days (down to about -10 degrees celsius) and I’ve been comfortable.
- It’s moderately water repellent: if you’re caught in light rain, you’ll be fine, but if you’re caught in a downpour, you’ll get wet. The good news is that the jacket dries off quickly.
- There’s a good number of pockets, and they’re well placed: there are two breast pockets, two large handwarmer pockets, and an internal pocket that’s perfect for carrying a phone or wallet.
- The integrated heating coils are kind of handy. I use heated gloves as well, so I’m already sold on that kind of technology.
- The fit and finish are OK. Many loose threads, but they’re easy enough to cut off with scissors.
- The hood annoys me. It’s too large, even when adjusted, and I prefer more fitted hoods: they just look better and don’t flap around in the wind as much.
And for reference, here’s the list of official features:
So what’s my overall opinion? It’s fine. I don’t think it’s awful, and I don’t think it’s the best jacket I’ve ever worn either. It’s somewhere in the middle.
And that’s all I can say about it. If you’re looking for a good, all-around jacket, the GAMMA is worth considering. But if you’re looking for something that’s going to change your life, well… keep looking.
I’m probably going to stick with Helly Hansen and Beyond Clothing brand jackets for my day-to-day wear, but I’ll no doubt break this one out from time to time as well.