Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Arc'teryx Profile

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Arc'teryx have been a game changer in each of the markets they entered.


First it was the climbing harness arena, when they introduced the Vapor harness, with it's incredibly smooth detailing and full three dimensional, pre-

shaped form. It made industry leaders like Petzl and Black Diamond sit and take notice. Although very expensive, the Vapor became a lust worthy

product that garnered Arc'teryx a great deal of design kudos and marketing exposure. Mostly as a result of their extensive and clever use of

thermoforming, or heat bonding of various materials.


Some of these skills would transfer to packs, but they also employed high standards of pattern making and sewing construction to produce an initially

small collection of daypacks and alpine sacs. The daypacks, targeted to the climbing market, had very distinctive panels and pockets, with odd features

like carry handles, so they could be easily carted around a crag. Very soon these designs would be ripped off and duplicated by cheap imitators. Obviously

the innovations in thermoforming were translated into the pack line's harnesses. Although the first few packs were quite light, they would soon become

increasing heavier as extra features were added and the love affair with smooth padding grew.


But at least this playing with thermoforming was excellent training for Arc'teryx next big adventure—apparel. In 1996, they were the talk of the Outdoor

Retailer trade show, when they unveiling their radically different shellwear line in Gore-Tex. Their designs, and particularly their garment construction

methods, quite literally reshaped the international market for premium rainwear.

work in progress. more coming in due course.