Boulder‘s Nite Ize has developed a toothless, waterproof zipper — and it could be everywhere before too long

There are few products that are such a part of people‘s daily lives as to spawn their own figure of speech. That‘s the case with the zipper, that ever-present fastener that keeps pants up and jackets closed to the wind, wet and cold.

When someone says “Zip it,” it mean close your mouth and keep it closed, a testament to the tool‘s effectiveness achieving its purpose.

The zipper is as to be something most people take for granted. But Boulder-based innovative products maker Nite Ize has a new take on the old invention that the company and outside observers feel will make waves across countless industries. It‘s called “Tru Zip” technology and it‘s a toothless, silently closing, certified-waterproof zipper.

“The first ever sliding, silent, waterproof, dust-proof complete zipper assembly allows people to build something that‘s never been able to be built before if we look at the landscape of what‘s possible in terms of waterproof products,” Nite Ize founder and CEO Rick Case said in interview Friday.

Nite Ize has focused on new, inventive takes on products with practical applications since Case founded the company while a junior at the University of Colorado 30 years ago. His first invention was a nylon headband that could turn any small, handheld flashlight into a headlamp at a time when headlamps were mostly confined to mines or mountaineering expeditions.

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The process for creating Tru Zip dates back four years, when Nite Ize product developers were considering new ways to utilize the extrusion process used to produce the company‘s reusable gear ties.

“We had the idea that we could create rails for a zipper that could have essentially a geography that comes together along the rails that create this incredibly strong connection,” he said.

With Tru Zip, rails made of thermoplastic polyurethane, a type of plastic, come together as an interlocking ball and socket when the slider is pulled up into its “garage.” The result is an air-tight seal that has been certified waterproof if submerged under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Case and the Nite Ize team debuted Tru Zip at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in January and case said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. To showcase the technology, the company has launched a line of travel products it calls Runoff – ranging from a $25 wallet to a $55 10-by-14-inch packing cube. The products, available now on the Nite Ize website, REI website and being shipped to select retailers, stand to compete with roll-top bags and those with water-resistant zipper technology.

Tru Zip and the runoff line of products impressed the team from at the at the Colorado Convention Center earlier this year. GearJunkie gave Tru Zip its best in show award after 10 editors scoured the expo for new and innovative products, editor in chief Sean McCoy said. The editors found the seal created by Tru Zip was so strong they could stand on a zipped-up bag without the air inside escaping.

Case said he is in talks with well-known companies about using his zipper technology in their products. Who those companies are, he‘s not saying yet.

McCoy could only speculate on the range of products that could benefit from a waterproof zipper.

“Wetsuits, potentially drysuits, rain apparel, camera bags; anywhere you have a zipper that needs to keep water out,” McCoy said. “In a lot of ways it‘s only limited by the imaginations of the designers and engineers who create new products.”

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