It seemed like every single potential prop from Back to the Future Part II became a reality for this fall’s Back to the Future Day. Nike finally got its act together and made self-lacing sneakers, Pepsi busted out Pepsi Perfect, Jaws 19 earned a trailer, and there are plenty of other products out there to prove to the world that you’re a big Marty McFly fan. New Yorkers could even take a spin in a DeLorean for a few minutes, and Chicagoans had a non-dreadful Cubs team to cheer. The future was back, and it was pretty kickin’.
Possibly the last product from the movie missing a real-life incarnation was Marty’s self-drying jacket from 2015. Now, a new Kickstarter campaign is trying to make it a reality.
Say hello to the SDJ-01, the self-drying BttF jacket of your dreams. While not a replica of the movie version, the company behind the Kickstarter campaign took Robert Zemeckis’ 1989 sequel as their direct inspiration. “This is something that’s been on my mind for years, but I never thought to actually try to do it,” Aaron Coleman, the lead designer at Falyon Wearable Tech, tells me. “I always assumed someone else would do it eventually. When that didn’t happen, one day I suddenly realized ‘Hey, I could make this happen. Why not give it a shot?’”
About a year ago, Coleman began looking seriously into ways to create the “Self-Drying Jacket.” But if it was to become a reality, he and the folks at Falyon didn’t want it to simply be a glorified movie prop. “We wanted to follow the basic design of the jacket from BttF but update it a bit, adding more pockets for all the gadgets people in the real 2015 are carrying around,” he says.
So how does this jacket manage to dry itself? It’s simple. “It’s a combination of the jacket being made of water resistant and material and having high pressure air circulating in an enclosed space,” Coleman explains. The jacket supposedly achieves a complete drying effect after about one minute.
Their design includes the red-and-black look of the jacket Marty wore and a button in the bottom of the jacket that signals embedded air amplifiers on the back to inflate and dry your potentially soaked outerwear. The fans suck in air and circulate it between the layers of the jacket, causing the flow to exit out of tiny vents near the neckline. It also features waterproof pockets to keep your iPhone or iPad dry.
Coleman says they attempted to have the prototype ready for Back to the Future Day, but couldn’t get a proof-of-concept design down in time. “It took a bit more refining before we had a model we were comfortable going public with,” Coleman says. The design process wasn’t as easy as it seems, he adds; it got to the point that Falyon considered abandoning the idea.
“We had a huge problem trying to figure out how to get tech in the jacket that would be powerful enough but also small and lightweight,” he says. “We destroyed a bunch of sample jackets trying to get it to work and at one point were about ready to give up.” The team at Falyon continued to tinker through the summer and fall. They toyed with the idea of adding the “Drying mode on” voice from the movie, before being confident enough to launch the Kickstarter campaign, their first.
Falyon has about two weeks left on the campaign, and is nearly $2,000 away from their $12,000 goal — a seemingly modest goal, given the potential audience.
“The $12,000 was us being honest,” he says. “Kickstarter asks you to fund the ‘minimum’ needed to bring the project to life, and our factory will produce the jackets for us with a minimum order of 50.” That target number will be enough to cover production in China and shipping to buyers worldwide, though Coleman adds, “We’d love to blow past that number and get even more jackets out there!”
If they achieve their goal, they hope to potentially sell their jackets to consumers in stores for about $189, the same amount the current reward costs on the Kickstarter page to get one. And as soon as July of next year they hope to have the SDJ-02 ready. But what will differentiate the two?
“We want to build on the SDJ-01, including the same features, but add even more tech,” he says, unwilling to elaborate any further. Though he did mention a nod to Marvel for inspiration: “We don’t want to say too much about the SDJ-02, but we will say the codename we’re using for it is the ‘Iron Man.’”
This new version probably won’t include the ability to shoot lasers out of your hands, but we can dream. At least with the SDJ-01 you can rock a BttF look and not have to worry about getting caught in a storm.