I recently tested the Klymit Kinetic Double Diamond vest, a high mobility cold weather product that uses argon gas for insulation. My tests demonstrated this is a “must have” for officers routinely deployed for search and rescue, waterborne or cold weather operations. In fact, for units relying on rapid deployment and transition, Ogden, Utah based Klymit has rewritten the rules.

The Klymit Kinetic Double Diamond vest is made of lightweight stretchable fabric with flexible chambers laminated between a soft outer shell. The chambers run vertically in a double diamond pattern, which gives the vest a distinct look when inflated. The pattern laminates are welded in a proprietary process, making a durable fabric with consistent flexibility throughout the garment.  It was shipped to me in a stuff sack small enough for a cargo pocket, including the three argon cylinders.

One of the cylinders fills the Klymit Kinetic Double Diamond Vest through a tube concealed in the left pocket and a pocket dispenser called the Klymitizer. I was able to inflate it, even when wearing an insulated pair of gloves. Compared with my down vest, the Klymit Double Diamond vest squeezes into approximately the same space with three 8-gram cylinders in the pocket. One purges the Klymit Double Diamond vest with a valve placed just over the left breast; the valve adds to the high tech look of the product.

I am a gadget kind of guy, which is why the Klymit products caught my eye. They make a sleeping pad that weighs 9 ounces, called the Inertia X-Frame sleeping pad, and jackets like the Klymit Kinetic Paregoria using the Noble Tek insulation, their patented argon gas insulation.

Why argon gas? It’s lighter, provides about four times the insulation quality with less bulk, and users can adjust the amount of insulation on the fly. The insulation is unaffected by moisture. My tests also found that the Double Diamond chambers are less likely to create cold spots created by uneven distribution of insulation, most commonly experienced with down garments.

Klymit products are thinner than their synthetic insulation counterparts, which makes them perfect for use underneath a raid vest. But even more, Klymit products are not affected by moisture, whereas other products fail when wet.

About argon

Argon is the third most common gas in the atmosphere. It is colorless, odorless and non-toxic. It is not very reactive, meaning it will not tend to bond with other elements. Argon is inexpensive to produce as it is a often a byproduct of the production of other more expensive gases.

Argon is even used in some food production and preservation which requires displacement of air.  There are several commercially available wine preservation kits which are simple argon dispensers that displace the air in an open bottle.

The best dual pane windows are filled with argon gas. It is about 25 percent more dense than air, which means it does not create convections within the panes. Some manufacturers claim that argon filled windows are quieter and are best applied to the street glass. 

Most importantly, argon does not transfer heat well, which is why Klymit products work so well. Klymit calls this Noble Tek Insulation, a method of inflating a garment with gas in a Double Diamond pattern.

I love cold weather. I grew up skiing and briefly coached a biathlon team in the military. I lived in the North Country (The Canadian border of northern New York State) where slogging through the deep snow was a pastime, not a hindrance. In cold weather, one dresses in layers, shedding them as one warms up and donning as one gets cooler. When weather hovers around the below zero range, carrying an empty backpack is one strategy for the unused layers.

The Klymit Double Diamond Vest increased my cold weather range without carrying anything except a pocketable shell. I started by inflating the vest to its fullest and went outside. I walked around in the chilly weather until I began to warm up. When I returned from my first excursion with my Double Diamond, I had purged it to about half full. 

I found that a filled vest could hold its gas almost indefinitely, but I only left gas in mine for about two months. It was too much fun to play with varying the insulation. This vest is unsuitable for sedate people with “normal” attention spans – something I lack. Rather, Klymit products are for people with helmet cams. I found that leaving it partially filled was perfect for stuffing it into the deployment bag with a couple of 8 gram cylinders in the pocket.

Comfort and function

The vest is form fitting and did not impede motion in any activity I performed. It seals at the neck without the “necktie feeling” and the stretchy fabric allowed it to seal well at the arm holes.  It did a great job sealing out cold at the waist with dual adjustment tabs.

I tried the vest using a single point sling on my carbine and move-and-shoot practice with my 9mm. Thicker vests can get in the way when shooting; the Klymit vest didn’t. It also didn’t interfere with straps on a backpack, a quality of interest to critical response team members.

Klymit’s product description says that 4mm of Noble Tek insulation is the equivalent to 14mm of fiber insulation. Actually, it is an unfair comparison, but I had to wait until it got a little colder in the sierras in order to gauge this. You see, a person would layer under a fiber garment. With this product one can simply wear the base layer and the vest, for spring conditions, adding a shell for sub zero days (Klymit has a soft shell product called a Paregoria Stretch).

The material is somewhat abrasion resistant and I found that it can be fully inflated and a good punch in the stomach might deflate me, but not the vest.

Punctures are repairable and the Tear-Aid Patch Kits supplied with the product are clear and bond instantly with the fabric. If one thinks there is a disadvantage of having inflatable insulation, I have several down garments with pinhole leaks in them, which dispute this notion.  Down can bleed from the smallest holes in some fabrics and repairs aren’t quite as discreet. I can plug punctures discreetly with the Tear-Aid Patches.            

When I put my hands into vest pockets, I like them to benefit from the warmth of the body. Klymit did this the right way. Instead of sewing on pockets like an afterthought, they hold things and serve as warming pockets.

The zipper and the pocket and the front zipper has a cold barrier with a pebbled texture. If this was a conventional cold-weather product, I would buy it for the quality and attention to detail alone. It has taped and reinforced seams and the material washes off easily. My fist day out with it included an accidental splash of motor oil, which needed a splash of detergent to get it off.

 I experimented with using a backpack and with heat transfer against a cold surface. I theorized that leaning on a cold surface would displace the gas in the chambers where it was pressed. It did, but because it is filled with gas, the area’s immediate to the displaced area compensated. This means that users can confidently lean on a cold wall (think chairlift with aluminum slats) and stay warm.


Where do I think the best law enforcement application for this product is? Search and rescue. My experience with cold temperatures have shown that the most dangerous situations are not cold snowy areas. The worst are cold wet areas where temperatures hover just above freezing and the victim’s core temperature drops because they are hyperthermic. No amount of effort can get a victim warm until rescuers get them dry.

If the rescuer has found the victim, it does not necessarily mean that the victim will be in the E/R within an hour. Besides, if the victim is hypothermic, the victim has only minutes, not hours. With the Noble Tek insulation, rescuers can raise the core temperature even if the conditions are wet.

I would like to talk Klymit into making a trauma blanket specific for first responders. In my experience, a simple blanket in the field is a great product for trauma patients at risk of shock.  An inflatable blanket can be slipped under a patient who, for various reasons, cannot be moved but needs to be separated from the cold or hot ground. Deflated, it can be slid underneath and slowly inflated. It would only need a cover that could be sterilized.

Klymit does have a product called the The MotorFist Suviva-Vest, which was designed in collaboration with MotorFist, a snow machine outerwear company. This vest is part of a survival kit for stranded outdoorsmen, it is also a good product for a first responder kit.

Noble Tek insulation is not a cure-all for cold weather, but my Klymit Double Diamond vest is only about a half-inch thick when inflated, and approximates a two-inch loft of conventional insulation. It is more comfortable and versatile than any other cold weather garment I know. It maintains its softness and utility in sub zero temperatures and can sit in the bottom of my deployment bag until I need it.

My tests of this product prompted me to put much of my cold weather stuff in storage. I used it at the range in the early morning and the noon sun prompted me to purge it a little.

Of all the products I have tested in my line of work, the Klymit Double Diamond Vest is the most unique. It is an innovative solution to a common problem. I did not anticipate the subtle way it gives the officer a tactical edge. The Klymit Vest is cold weather law enforcement response – in style.

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.


About the Author

Officer Lindsey Bertomen (ret.), Contributing Editor

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California, where serves as a POST administrator and firearms instructor. He also teaches civilian firearms classes, enjoys fly fishing, martial arts, and mountain biking. His articles have appeared in print and online for over two decades. 

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