Gear BEYOND Clothing Axios Arctic System and Q&A with BEYOND’s Rick Elder Rob Curtis January 19, 2016 Join the Conversation Beyond Clothing’s AXIOS Arctic System is a five-layer clothing system designed for operations in -40 to -70 degrees F. It’s a purpose-built array of garments made for war fighting. It’s not an adaptation of polar exploration or mountain climbing gear. To that end, body armor allowances and access to load-bearing equipment are baked right into the system’s genetics. Beyond’s greater Axios system uses 10 layers, A1 through A10. Axios Arctic uses five of those 10 layers and includes the base layer (A1), active insulation (A3), softshell (A5), active extremity insulation (A8), and extreme static insulation (A10). You’ll notice there’s no hardshell or rain jacket, that’s because it hardly ever rains in the polar regions and it’s too cold for snow to thaw, even when it’s on your clothing. From a distance, layers A1, A3, and A5 could pass for typical cold weather gear. But, layers A8 and A10 are pure outside-the-box thinking cold weather clothing design. The Active Extremity Insulating layer (A8) is a half-jacket that warms the arms and shoulders. It leaves the chest and back uncovered. This allows access to gear while assuming body armor is present, which adds insulation in areas the half-jacket isn’t covering. Heavily insulated hockey shorts are the other half of the A8 layer. They’re a breeze to get off and on and help retain a lot of core warmth in the highly vascular groin area and thighs. A unique aspect of the Axios layering system is each layer's intimate compatibility. From the skin out, each successive garment layer is designed to work together. For example, materials are chosen for their ability to move moisture from the base layer (A1) through the insulating layer (A3) to the softshell layer (A5) where it can evaporate during periods of exertion; all without losing the warmth retained in the extremities by the extremity insulation layer (A8). When activity slows down, the fifth layer (A10) is used to envelop the entire body in fragrance-free, Tauntaun level warmth. The level A10 Static Parka is what we’d want if our Snowspeeder crashed someplace out past the last marker, and we’ve gotta hunker down and wait till dawn for a rescue party. It’s insulated with a double layer of Climashield. The abdominal pass-through (reminiscent of an eviscerated kangaroo) allows access to a chest rig, a quarter zip limits that chance for zipper draft and a fur lining on the hood creates a warmish, wind- free zone in front of the face. Q&A with BEYOND Clothing’s President Rick Elder Recoil: How did you choose the name AXIOS for the cold weather clothing system? Rick Elder: It’s Greek and it means “worthy of, deserving of, or suitable”. Our concept was to design a system “worthy of” our customers. RECOIL: Do you have a narrative that explains why Beyond felt there was an opportunity to make and sell extreme cold weather clothing? RE: There are no arctic-specific cold weather systems built in the US. We felt there was an opportunity to merge our system approach with that unique requirement set. After all, there is no more telling survival story than that of the Arctic and Antarctic. RECOIL: What’s out there for cold weather gear and why isn’t it adequate? RE: There are some amazing cold weather garments out in the industry. That said, there are very few garments built to provide a system capability. You never know what’s under the hood of a garment. The key to true survival clothing is to have every element of the package evaluated and proven. After the components are validated, the system design comes into play. Each garment must be built to articulate correctly with other garments in the system. An incorrect design set can invalidate the best fabrics and technologies. RECOIL: What does Axios Arctic do that other products don’t do? RE: This concept system certifies environmental scenarios to a use and training guide. There is no guessing with our clothing systems, they allow for a proven capability when used correctly. RECOIL: Can you talk about the materials and how they were selected? RE: We chose the system’s fabrics with a keen eye on the optimum balance of weight, breathability, and durability for a given temperature and activity. We use each fabric’s properties to manage the micro-climates found at every level between the wearer’s skin and the outside environment. The fabric utilization is very thoughtful in that the fabric characteristics change based on the temperature rating of the system itself. That is, we treat -100F differently than -40F from an actual face fabric perspective. This is not very common among outdoor clothing companies. RECOIL: Aside from only having 45 days to design the system, what technical challenges did Beyond face in designing the system components? RE: We had to build kicker levels to the Axios system to allow for the extended temperature range. This is why the A8 layer came into being. This system protects large areas of the extremities where heat loss and wind exposure attacks physical performance. The body’s core has more than enough protection given the use of load carriage equipment (as shown) while in a movement phase. RECOIL: Is designing clothing for combat different than designing clothing for other high performance pursuits? RE: Absolutely. Imagine an outdoorsman going hiking with a tool belt. Now imagine his life depended on access to those tools in a split second. That’s the difference between building for a combat scenario and a purely survival scenario. In this way, the clothing is every bit a tool not unlike someone’s mission kit. RECOIL: How much of a complication does firearms manipulation add to the design of clothing systems? RE: This is a complicated question due to the variables in the problem set. For example, each firearm or weapons system is a bit different and requires optimization within a clothing system. As well, the load carriage utilized poses the largest challenge for weapons manipulation. We build for a maximum range of motion to allow for integration of a large range of load carriage and weapons systems. RECOIL: How much did it cost to develop this suite? RE: We average about $7500 per garment for development from concept to fully produceable package. RECOIL: Can we talk about costs as they relate to final pricing? RE: Honestly, no. This depends on the scope of the production. We are a rapid development shop that tries to pass on every possible savings to the customer. We are able to pass on better costing based on larger production runs. In this case, we haven’t started the costing drill on these concept pieces. RECOIL: If this suite, or parts of it, come to market, what will each part cost? RE: I wouldn’t hazard to answer this question. As with the last question, this depends on many variables. RECOIL: Did Beyond develop the US1928 camo pattern on these garments? How did you come up with that name? RE: The Pattern US1928 is based on the year Admiral Richard Byrd started his expedition to the Antarctic. As a Medal of Honor winner for attempting a fly over of the North Pole in 1926, we thought his efforts were worthy of naming this pattern after his southern land expedition. The pattern was developed in conjunction with HD Colortech in California to mimic a wind-blown Arctic plateau. RECOIL: Has any of this gear been tested in the environment for which it was designed? RE: All of the sub-components have been tested within the Axios system to perform as advertised. The A8 and A10 are new to this capability and have yet to be taken to the Arctic. The protection level aggregates to the correct heat retention to support the extended temperature range. We look forward to further development and user testing. RECOIL: After a 45 day development cycle, what would you do differently and what did you learn from the process? RE: We have really worked hard to build the most complete rapid development process in the industry. With this system, we simply did the same thing our team does every day. So no, no new lessons learned. But just like physical training, testing the process over and over (shocking the muscle) makes the next task less daunting. 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