When we firstly got our hands on the Solar Charged jacket from VOLLEBAK, it was hard to believe that this is a real jacket and not a laboratory technical invention in which you can not walk or even touch. The jacket struck our imagination by the texture of the material, it's simple cut and most importantly the glow, that came from a long exposure (accumulation) of light.
We tested the jacket, and realized that we had some questions which we addressed personally to Steve Tidball, co-founder of VOLLEBAK. The jacket is sold out now, but guys promise to re-release it in 2019. Follow the updates on the official website or subscribe to their newsletter if you do not want to miss a pre-order.
Interview/article: Alexander Zabelin.
Answers: Steve Tidball [VOLLEBAK].
Layout: Tatiana Vasilenko.
Photo: Ivan Dzatiev.

Special thanks for the jacket to Gwen Tran Sauvageot.
This jacket was recognized as the best invention of 2018 by TIME magazine, and it was awarded the Sports Gear of the Year award from WHYRED magazine. Made of highly sensitive material that can be instantly charged and made to glow in the dark by any light source you can find. Whether you write on it with an iPhone flashlight, draw with a regular flashlight, charge it under a light bulb, or carry it in the sun – once you go into the darkness, it will glow like kryptonite. And while it's a technology that usually only works in a lab, its shell works amazingly in the real world. The material is waterproof, elastic, very breathable, detailed laser cutted, soft and lightweight.
[How did you come to the idea of creating glow-in-the dark Solar Charged jacket? Is there was a demand on it at outdoor industry?]

We'd done a lot of ultramarathons and adventure races that go through the night in the middle of deserts and jungles and mountain ranges where you feel super exposed. When you're running on a knife-edge ridge through the mountains, or being tracked by jackals across Africa in the night, there is no such thing as being too well lit. So the idea emerged out of a need – the brighter you could be at night the better. And as a lot of our runs were in highly remote places, there's only so reliant you want to be on batteries that can run out of power. In adventure racing the one thing you are certain of each day is that when morning comes the sun will rise and your jacket will be charged.
The main technology that allows it to glow is an ultra-thin membrane placed inside a translucent grid that removes moisture from the body and does not allow water outside to penetrate. The phosphorescent mixture is integrated into the membrane structure, thus the technology sits inside the fabric and cannot be washed or rubbed off. The fabric works like a living plant, accumulating any light that hits its surface and slowly, over time, emits it.
Best charged by direct sunlight. The effect is simple – the brighter the light and the longer you charge it, the more energy it will absorb and the longer and brighter it will glow. It will always seem that the jacket holds its charge the longest in nature at night, where there is less light pollution. The glow is the brightest immediately after charging, but can stay up to 12 hours.
[Can you describe the structure of material and the purpose of using in everyday life?]

I think what's so cool about the Solar Charged Jacket is that you can experiment with what you want to use it for, as well as how to make it glow best. There is never just one solution.We have friends who charge it up in cupboards under motorbike lights all day, then take it skiing at night, so they look like two green glowing orbs going down the mountain. Of course you can wear it as a normal jacket. But it's at its most fun when you're experimenting on it like a child would.
Every square centimeter of the material is stretched, making it ideal for sports. It is also completely waterproof with fully taped seams, the tapes of which also glow. Adjusting hood, pockets and ventilation system also equips it with all the necessary properties for a modern tech jacket. It is very light (only 230 grams) and can be easily folded into a bag, without losing its krypto-properties.
[Are there were any production difficulties behind the design of Solar Charged jacket?]

The material for the Solar Charged Jacket is extremely thin. It's made up of 3 different layers, all three of which you could tear apart in your hands, but when you combine them together are strong enough to make a jacket. It's this delicacy that makes it hard to produce. Also when you come to bond the jacket you have to be very careful about how much heat you apply to it. We're very exacting about how it has to be made. Even the seams have to glow. It is not enough for us for it to be functional. It has to be beautiful too, like something you've found in nature.
Read our previous parts of

Solar Charged jacket by VOLLEBAK is available for purchase here.

Also, in our 4th printed issue released in summer 2018 we interviewed Vollebak founders Steve and Nick, these amazing future oriented outdoor enthusiasts and asked them about the company more in-depth.

Last copies of TECHUNTER 04 / 05 are available in our store.