Extreme Environment Hand-Wear system

Period of Performance: 06/12/2000 - 12/12/2000

$99.1K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Outdoor Research
2203 1st Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98134
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The characteristics of materials and designs suitable for an Extreme Environment Handwear System that will meet the requirements of the Special Operations Forces will be quantified. Materials that appear most suitable will be obtained and tested utilizing ASTM tests and tests developed around specific SOF tasks. Current handwear will be surveyed, and those possessing design, materials or construction elements that appear promising will be selected. These, and current SOF handwear, will be subjected to extensive lab and field testing based on SOF requirements. Design elements that appear most promising, and new design concepts that emerge from these tests, will be selected for study. Advanced design concepts in ergonomics, modularity, system integrations, heat transfer, etc will be conceptualized and investigated. Promising construction techniques, including sewing, RF welding, gluing, etc. will be investigated. Prototype handwear systems that incorporate the most promising materials, construction techniques, and design elements will be constructed. These prototype handwear systems will be subjected to thorough lab and field testing to establish environmental and ergonomic performance and to provide a qualitative assessment of their compatibility with SOF mission-essential tasks. Based on these designs and results, recommendations will be made to USSOCOM for Phase II designs. Recognizing that many of the handwear items currently being fielded by the Army do not make use of the latest in materials or design technology, it is probable that some, if not all, components of an extreme environment handwear system developed under this contract would prove greatly superior to handwear currently fielded by the Army and would be of use to a large number of Army personnel. It is hoped that the Army would see the value of this handwear and that OR would profit by selling large quantities to the Army. Advances in handwear design and materials under this SOCCOM SBIR initiative should lead directly to additional commercial handwear in OR's line. Innovative handwear embodying an integrated systems approach will appeal to both professionals and recreationists who require highly durable handwear that provides good dexterity over a wide temperature range including sub-zero temperatures. Users of our current handwear who will be likely buyers of more-advanced handwear include mountain climbers, skiers, workers in Antarctica and Alaska, and military personnel in Alaska and other often-cold locales. Additional users that we would probably pursue include snowmobilers and hunters. Information learned in Phase I will almost certainly lead to enhancements of OR handwear. It is highly likely that new handwear offerings would appear, but it is unclear at this stage what form they might take. It is highly probable that improvements in current offerings would emerge as a result of investigating state-of-the-art materials. Certain concepts that would be investigated are also very likely to be incorporated into our designs. It is entirely possible that handwear developed for the SOF could employ materials that are too expensive for economically viable products in the outdoor market. In that case, our strategy would involve substituting the best materials we could find that would allow production of handwear within market price limits. In addition, we would probably produce versions of handwear developed for SOF in countries with lower labor rates than the US to reduce costs to the point that the products would achieve reasonable sales volume in OR's high-end market niche. It may be that handwear developed under this SBIR initiative may be too sophisticated and too expensive to appeal to a mass market, but that is acceptable for a company of OR's size and focus on the high end of the handwear market. The enhancement to OR's image created by selling highly sophisticated systems handwear will have a positive effect on sales of our less-sophisticated mitts and gloves and thereby serve a very useful commercial purpose.