1.) We pay zero attention to just about everything market analysts have to say. When you let marketers, analysts, and focus groups tell you what product people want next and how much it should cost, you end up creating things that solve marketing problems, but not the real problems hunters face in the field.
2.) We create gear to solve specific hunting problems that have never been tackled – like how do you keep your hands dry when pulling deeks from icy water? Or how can rain jacket pockets warm your hands without having water run down the sleeve and into the pocket? If these solutions were straightforward, other companies would have already come up with them. But the problems we're solving are complex, requiring astounding sums of time, research, creative innovation, and scientific testing.
This is how real innovation happens: On the hunt, we tune into everything that robs us of comfort, focus and success. Everyone on the Sitka Team does this, from Athletes to customer service reps, Prostaff to business leaders. Then, we do whatever it takes to craft complete solutions to the most pressing problems. For most solutions, the ideal fabric doesn't even exist yet, so we can't just buy something out of some textile manufacturer's catalog. Instead, we invent completely new fabrics designed specifically for the particular end use. That means working with brilliant chemists to combine new compounds in just the right atmospheric conditions to create new threads and membranes. We then work with talented engineers to invent new ways of weaving and laminating these advanced materials into fabrics that are lighter, quieter, more flexible, more durable, and ultimately superior for the application. We work with optical and veterinary biologists to study animal vision and understand how prey, not human hunters, see the world. We work with digital concealment experts who contract for militaries around the globe, and use the animal study findings to create the most effective hunting concealment patterns ever made. We assemble these new fabrics into prototypes that aim to solve the problems we encountered in the field. But that's just the beginning. Our athletes push their personal limits with the prototypes, hunt after hunt, to identify even the tiniest design and construction flaws. With their feedback, we redesign again and again until the piece works perfectly to solve the problem and integrates seamlessly into the Sitka system.
3.) We refuse to treat customers like guinea pigs. Some gear makers, with the best of intentions, try to get gear into people's hands without fully vetting it. But we stick to our guns on this: Test, test, test. We test dozens of parameters that affect the lifespan of a piece's functionality, both in the lab and in the field. And it doesn't stop with prototypes. We test production pieces repeatedly until we have statistically reliable data to show definitively that the piece meets or exceeds our performance standards. It can take years for a product to go from a sketch to your honey hole. But this process is key. If the gear fails on you out there, it's more than a warranty issue: it could be a missed opportunity, unnecessary discomfort, or worse.
The bottom line: Not every hunter agonizes over their hunts or their gear to this extent, and so they may not need what we do. We exist to build gear for hunters who are unwilling to compromise on comfort, safety, and performance.
Got questions? What would you like to see next in the Darkroom? Hit us up in the comments below.