Gear Guy

This embedded technology is one of the coolest new innovations in the outdoor apparel industry.     Photo: Courtesy of Cohaesive

Q:

What's the Most Innovative New Ski Jacket Technology?

A:Next week at Outdoor Retailer, Black Diamond will unveil jackets with a revolutionary cord management system that shrinks, hides, and embeds the technology needed to tighten hoods and hems. It’s called Cohaesive, and I’m excited about it for a few reasons.

Cohaesive simplifies cord management to its most intuitive form. This technology hides the traditional hardware used to tighten your hood or hem, letting you make minute fit adjustments. With no bulky toggles to break off, the system is incredibly easy to use even with gloves on. It’s very simple, and it looks sexy. 

Simplicity equals sanity, at least according to MIT professor John Maeda’s book “The Laws of Simplicity.” And while it may seem odd that a book mostly focused on tech gadgetry resonates in the outdoor industry, it’s already affecting apparel trends. Maeda’s “shrink, hide, and embed” theory is becoming part of Black Diamond’s design ethos, says Tim Bantle, director of apparel at the company.  

The idea for British Columbia-based Cohaesive was born four years ago. A development group was tasked with finding brand-new cord management ideas. "They weren't inspired or stoked on what was in the market," says Nick Simmons, Cohaesive's director of possibilities. "The same types of cord locks have been around for decades. Some things changed but nothing looked totally new or gave new functionality."

What they came up with was hardware that allows manufacturers to bond a cord management system directly into the fabric of the garment. The shock cord and grip icon are the only exposed parts of the system. All you have to do is pull the cord to tighten it and pinch the icon to release the tension. Realizing the game changing potential of this hardware, Cohaesive creator Tom Routh turned the group into its own company in 2012.

Black Diamond, which unveiled its apparel line last year, is Cohaesive's only North American launch partner this season. "The connection with Black Diamond is super cool because they are known for their hard goods and have moved into soft goods," Simmons says. It mirrors Cohaesive's mission to blend hard goods into soft goods, he says.

Yes, other companies have embedded features into outdoor gear. Take RECCO, which integrates avalanche radar reflectors into apparel. But it’s the emphasis on simplicity and usability that excites me, and I think Cohaesive is a sign of good designs to come. "There are two sides of any tech story," says Bantle. "Pursuit of simplicity and solving a problem."



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