The Indestructible Jacket

There is an unusual clothing company, that makes unusual things, and they make them from unusual materials. They even have an unusual name, Vollebak (which comes from a Flemish cycling expression meaning "go for it"). Their tagline is, "Clothes From the Future." I am far from a fashion aficianado so am generally unaware of anything even remotely related to fashion or trends, but I AM a fan of high-tech materials, and that circuitous route is how I stumbled upon Vollebak and their "Indestructible Jacket."

Vollebak Logo

A brief dive into how we got here might be a good place to start. One of my hobbies is backpacking, and I skew toward the "ultralight" end of the scale when it comes to gear. I want to use the highest quality but lightest things I can find to save some weight on my old knees, and one of the materials you come across in the ultralight world is Dyneema. Normally, you find this material in tents, backpacks or guylines and it is an "ultra-high-molecular-weight-polyethelene" material.

Dyneema Tent by Locus Gear

In it's most common "fabric" form, a series of dyneema fibers are laid into an ultra-thin polyester film. This results in a completely waterproof membrane that provides 100% rain protection and incredible strength but is also so thin and light that an entire two-person tent can weigh less than a pound. Dyneema's original use was in sailboat sails and you can see why, it's an amazing combination of super strong and super light. I have a few tents made of this material and it is quite impressive, providing you with shelter that is impermeable to all moisture and takes up hardly any space in your pack. This same dyneema sheet material can also be laminated to a nylon/polyester  weave, and this combo creates a tough wearing exterior layer with a waterproof layer inside. This is usually seen in backpacks, like this bomb-proof pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

Dyneema Backpack by Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Another form of Dyneema is a stranded form that can be made into ropes or lines. These lines are incredibly strong, about 15x stronger than an equivalent steel cable and again are a fraction of the weight. I use a 50' section of dyneema rope to hang my backpacking food bag in trees, as it's plenty strong but also somewhat "slick" and slides along branches easily.

So, I'd been aware of and have owned a variety of dyneema items but I had no idea that you could make clothes out of it until I stumbled upon the Vollebak Indestructible Jacket. As mentioned at the start, Vollebak is pretty strange. Founded by former ultramarathoners/advertising executives twin brothers in England in 2016, their aim is to look for materials or processes that aren't ever used in clothes and find a way to use them. They have a jacket that incorporates 11km of copper threading into it. They made a jacket for runners that charges itself via the sun and will glow at night. They created a jacket covered in graphene to trap and reflect heat. They made a T-shirt with carbon fiber in it and another made of algae that can completelay decompose in a landfill when you are done with it. Their "100-Year Hoodie" looks like a standard pullover but is fire, water and wind resistant. The list goes on, as Vollebak experiments with completely wacky materials and concepts that no other clothing maker would dream of. Even their packaging is made of strange materials. I greatly appreciate that insanity and the boutique approach to making things that are entirely different from the norm.

Vollebak stone paper packaging

So finally, we come to the Vollebak item I decided to add to my wardrobe, the 100% Dyneema Indestructible Jacket. It is made of a special woven form of Dyneema (similar to the strand form seen in rope but obviously much finer) and looks a bit like a shimmery version of denim. It has a slightly cool, smooth and almost waxy feel to it but quickly warms up to body temperature once you put it on. The front features two hidden zipper pockets with a snap closure and two chest slip pockets above those. I would note that while Dyneema itself is waterproof, this jacket is not because it is made of a single layer of woven material with the inevitable gap between the threads. While it may not keep you from getting damp, if you tumble down a mountainside or someone takes a swipe at you with a knife, the incredible abrasion resistance of Dyneema will let you walk away without a scratch.

Indestructible Jacket Indestructible Jacket

The Dyneema Black thread is such an interesting material. In size medium my jacket weighs 1lb (462 grams) so it's relatively light and the main body and sleeves are a single layer of Dyneema Black. The chest pocket areas have a soft backing material, while the front closure buttons are made from an exotic nut (I told you Vollebak was weird) that is ultra hard and entirely impact resistant. The buttons are sewn to a military grade webbing instead of to the fabric itself to provide more strength and allow the buttons to move a few mm for ease of use.

Indestructible buttons

I got mine one size larger than I might need so that I can easily layer it over my ultralight winter puffy coat, a combo which would provide me warmth but also incredible abrasion resistance. My winter puffy is made of material so thin it will tear if you look at it funny, so this new protective layer will be welcome for trail walks on cool days (I've already snagged my puffy on a few branches and thorn bushes while out on a trail and it's a nasty feeling).

Style wise, it is a very interesting mix. In some ways it looks very classic, almost like a familiar denim motorcycle jacket. But the additions of the front pockets and closures combined with the shimmery all black material gives it a decidedly high-tech feel. The nature of the material also makes it look like it's been part of your wardrobe for 20 years, with an effortless "lived in" feel that is contrasted by the clear technology of the fabric.

Indestructible Jacket Inner Pocket

I love the combo and it results in a really unique jacket. It can easily go unnoticed in public but if someone would examine it more closely they would quickly realize it's not just a normal piece of clothing. Perfect for me, as I don't like to stand out but appreciate technology and innovation. I also appreciate that it's quite the international affair, with the company based in England, the material made in Belgium, the jacket sewn in Lithuania and shipped from the Netherlands. My jacket has been on a world tour before I even got to wear it. 

Label Made in Lithuania

I am extremely happy with this item so far but like any product, I feel there are a few small things that could go into a "V2" to make it even better. A few suggestion to make:

  • incorporate a waterproof inner lining and possibly a "warmth" layer
  • swap buttons for a weatherproof zipper
  • add a couple hand pockets

I like the style of the buttons quite a bit, but for ease-of-use a zipper is always king. Adding a thin waterproof liner (perhaps using Schoeller’s c_change® fabric that Vollebak uses in other jackets) would make the jacket able to handle darn near anything, protecting you from abrasions, impacts, water and wind. Some thin pockets to put your hands in (perhaps using the same soft liner material of the chest pockets) would just be a nice comfort option.

The Indestructible Jacket is definitely a niche piece of gear. It is expensive, and certainly not necessary, but I also expect that it will last many, many years and be a staple of my wardrobe. Very cool work Vollebak. I doubt I will add many other pieces from your (pricey) collections but this jacket is top notch and the perfect mix of classic, new, basic and extreme that tickles my fancy.