Descending the mountain a little late and losing track of your partners? Just holler at them to turn on their jackets. Behold the Marmot Phenomenon EL: Five electroluminescent panels line this Gore-Tex hard shellglowing couture that could light up backcountry ski guides in blizzards or help adventure racers read topo maps at night. Borrowing decades-old plane- and automobile-gauge technology, the panels contain phosphor, a solid material that converts energy to light. Four AAA batteries power the panels for up to 12 hours when set on continual illumination, or twice that when set to flashing, and the entire systempredicted to weigh about six ounceshas sewn-in wiring that disappears between the jacket's layers. Given that the panels produce no heat and are flexible and shockproof, expect mutations to surface on cycling jackets and inside tents. For now, a handful of prototypes are undergoing field testing on alpine climbs and backcountry ski tours. Marmot plans to have the Phenomenon EL on shelves by fall 2004, in time for an early-season hut-to-hutor that Radioactive Man costume for Halloween.
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