Our elusive Product Developers crawled out of the design cave to chat with Hunt Talk’s Randy Newberg. Over the course of two semi-work-appropriate hours, they riffed on everything from how to choose product testers to what it's like creating the gear people will use on some of the best days of their lives.
Don't have time to listen? Here are four facts John and Eric think you should know about what they do all day, besides planning hunting trips.
1) Sitka’s product team thinks ahead. Way ahead.
While some hunters might be falling over themselves to snag 2016's latest gear, iterations of those garments have already been worn for multiple seasons and improved upon by our athletes, ambassadors, and the developers themselves. As new gear for 2016 is hitting the shelves now, the Product team has released the arrow on Fall 2018, and is settling the pin on 2019.
2) It's not about thinking up some fancy new jacket.
It’s about finding real solutions to problems hunters experience in the field. From the initial conversation, the team dives into cycles of personal experiece, athlete research, design, mock-ups, field testing, hunting, redesign, hunting, reworking, and hunting. It’s hard to comprehend the number of trips a product is hunted in before it's available to the public, but if it makes it into your hands, it has run the gauntlet to earn the Sitka logo.
3) Product testers are indispensable to the development process, but good luck becoming one.
A lot of hunters out there spend as much time in the field as our athletes, ambassadors, and field testers. And we’re stoked to know it! But our Product team hand picks outdoorsmen who are also educated in the way textiles and garments work together, or against each other. They’re the guys who give feedback that will make or break the piece in question. They’ve got to be an encyclopedia of layering systems, garments, textiles, and technologies... as well as being badasses out in the field, in all terrain and all conditions. Our field testers don’t come back from a hunt and say “This jacket sucked.” Fine, maybe it sucked. But they tell the Product team what didn't work, exactly how and when it failed, and everyone goes back to the drawing board, and the process continues.
4) Sitka Gear: Made from scratch.
We probably won’t be using that tagline anytime soon, but it's true. From textiles to technologies to forms and applications, we very seldom just find the part that fits. “I like to use the analogy we scratch make the biscuit,” says Barklow. "What issues do we have as hunters that we want to solve? How can our apparel and gear help us in the field? Then we sit there and work to create something new that has never been created. We have one of the best technical outdoor apparel designers in the world, which is not something we like to brag about, but..." (OK, so we like to brag about it)
Oh, so now you want to hear it all, but don't want to scroll back up? We got you covered. Here’s the link.