Forrest Coots is no stranger to the mountains. One of the athletes on the trip, he is a world class ski mountaineer and lives on the slopes of Mt Shasta, in Northern California. “The coolest part of this trip was just hanging out at basecamp in the middle of nowhere. The skiing was terrible so we had time. We could talk about products and crazy design ideas with no distractions.” It may seem simple, but time is something very few companies give their people.
People need time to explore, to learn and ultimately, to fail. Design ideas are rarely about solving current problems. Instead, they’re about finding problems. And the only way to do that is to wreck gear, over and over again, until you come up with something that works, regardless of how long it takes. At Arc’teryx, they do everything in house. They can build a sample in the morning and spend the afternoon in the mountains beating the snot out of it. Having the ability to break things faster is what allows them to build stuff that can withstand the apocalypse, all with a simple esthetic and minimal design. And yes, looking good during the fall of civilization is important. Especially if you’re staying warm and dry.