(Bloomberg) -- An Oregon-based startup founded by amateur outdoor adventurers has raised new funding to make hiking boots, army tents and other products significantly warmer.  

Oros Labs pulled in $22 million in fresh funding in a deal led by Airbus Ventures, with participation from investors including Culper Ventures and Recreational Equipment Inc.’s Path Ahead Ventures. The company is selling a material it patented called Solarcore, used in a range of hiking boots and outdoor gear. Its customers include outfitters Merrell, L.L. Bean and Cabela’s — as well as the US Defense Department. 

Oros was founded in 2015 by outdoor enthusiast Michael Markesbery and his college friend, Rithvik Venna. The idea formed after Markesbery, a student at Miami University, learned about aerogel, the material NASA uses to insulate spacecraft in negative 450 degrees. He wanted to wrap himself in it for his next mountain trek so he could stay warm without bulky layers. 

Aerogel is designed to be ultra-thin, and was based on a long-expired patent. But it was brittle and broke easily.

Markesbery and Venna worked to infuse aerogel into a stretchy material, which Oros patented as Solarcore. It’s pliable enough for the kind of trekking Markesbery had wanted to do — and investors hope it will offer a new way to insulate products across industries. With the new funding, the startup plans to double its head count to 50 people and develop new applications for insulation in commercial and military contexts.

“The majority of investors in this round are government focused. That’s very reflective of the market right now,” said Markesbery, who added that the company favored investors with government experience. 

Since 2020, Oros has secured more than $50 million for five projects across multiple agencies within the Department of Defense. Those projects include building a system of insulated apparel, developing a heat shield for pipes on navy vessels, developing cold weather footwear and cold chain packaging. 

Its most advanced program, making tactical shelters for Army soldiers, was developed using $35 million in Defense Department funds during the past four years. The startup won an additional $7 million in this year’s defense budget to work on insulated, non-bulky shelters that also protect against electronic jamming. 

Next, the company aims to expand its relationship with the Defense Department, as well as sign on more commercial customers in the medical and energy fields, focused on cold supply chain logistics and energy storage problems.

Other investors include Crumpton Ventures and Iron Gate Capital Advisors. The startup also counts Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan, defense tech investor Thomas Tull and former NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke among its earliest individual backers. 

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