Over the last couple of months I have sat through a number of focus group sessions on cutting edge gear. Skis, ski mountaineering, clothing and climbing gear. Everyone from manufactures and designers to pro athletes in attendance. I got to talk with a lot of athletes, pros and semi pros and very experienced "amateurs". Lots of them.
Think about this? Dynafit is leading the BC ski boot industry with a $1000 retail boot. DPS Pure skis are $1500 retail. And both worth every penny imo. Arcteryx has a number of $600 ski jackets and top out at $800. Some European companies coming in at $1000 plus on down hill ski jacket systems. Patagonia has a few jackets past $500, which might seem like a bargain in comparison.
$200 sun glasses the norm?
Lets be honest, the days of "there is no money" in the Outdoor Industry is over. Has been for a while now, even through a tough world wide recession.
The market has changed. 17 year old kids aren't likely buying $1000 ski boots. Their parents are. Even more likely if Jonny's Dad will buy him that $1000 ski boot, he is just as likely to buy it first for himself these days.
The Chamonix Guide, that you must convince, what you have, is what he needs.
Ever heard of the "baby boomers"? Well let me tell ya, they are the greatest generation of elitist pricks the industry has ran into and likely ever will. Lucky for you/us!
Here is why. It takes some pretty amazing technology to get "us" to buy anything. But when you realise that dropping a pound or two in gear and upping the performance a LOT is possible...dollars mean nothing. Assuming you happen to have access to those dollars. And we do. Cash or charge? Either way the disposable income is there when you get gray hair.
I hear over and over again that the newest cutting edge gear was aimed at the "elite" of the sport. That "elite" means the young. BS! Yes Bullllllll Shit!
A good sports car, good Scotch and a good powder day is wasted on the "young". Simply no appreciation for what the bad ones are yet. If you had really thought about it, the market for that cutting edge gizmo that you are talking about behind closed doors, is for the guy with money in his pocket. Any guy with money in his pocket. That would be the guy in the ice park and the guy now taking the swing into side country skiing.
That would most certainly include the 40 something skiing off the Midi. Or the 40 something hard chargers at Crystal Mtn or Jackson Hole back here in the States, The same places where I first saw the TLT5 being used.
The guides and climbers I saw on the first season of the TLT P in Chamonix? Pro discounts of course. The guys dropping in off a lift?...FULL retail of course!
I am here to tell you. 40 years of alpine ice, water ice and lift served and BC skiing I am doing it better now and having more fun at it because of the "cutting edge" gear available. Simply because I took to heart a comment a buddy of mine made a decade or so ago, about gear, "OPEN YOUR MIND!"
My take is the out door industry needs to stop, rewind, reboot and rethink who they are building for and where the money is coming from.
The real goal of any of us in the outdoor industry should be education. We need to make the cutting edge gear the norm..simply because it makes the sport (sports) more fun and the energy required to participate less. We need to make that gear the norm by educating the consumer why that new gear is worth the money. "You can climb harder, you will ski better and you will be more comfortable while doing it". "Open your mind!" How hard is it to say that? Even easier to actually experience and believe.
That "gear" is exactly what makes the cutting edge accomplishments of the the newest generation of youngsters possible. Pays to remember that.
Patagonia's new super duper $700 1000 fill power Encapsil Belay Jacket.
This is a comment from a soon to be fossil. There are two things about gear that are important. One is how important it is. The other is how unimportant it is. Great blog and I appreciate your insights.
i agree with your assertion dane, just the equation doesnt crunch.
state of the art gear costs because it uses state of the art technology to make it, which isnt available everywhere, and even if every climber wanted to pay for it, its still such a small sector it wont make much difference.
the process that punches out recreational outdoor gear can produce all the advances they want - but in the end, climbers are a conservative lot. they are willing to pay for advances that are shiny and obvious, but the real progress is being made in ways most dont see, and us such are suspicious of buying.
selling the latest carbon inserts or titanium bits is a no-brainer because everyone thinks they know what its worth - but a new way of joining fabric together, a new combination that dries faster or a new form of thermoefficiency measured thats hard to describe - people are reluctant to give up their old ideas.
its easier to keep with the old hype than to go with the new one.
in the end its gotta sell, and the process of dumbing down amazing designs for the consumer is a well known one.
Dane, this isn't really climbing related, but I'll be damned if I didn't just put this all together regarding Porsches.
THAT's your car. I know, or remember it well from Pelican, Excellence, etc., and now, this sense that your name was familiar to me from somewhere other than climbing makes sense: rdane.
Randy Webb even linked you to a couple docs I've hosted on my site regarding 911 weights a few years ago: http://www.penaltykicker.com/911/data/
How interesting this convergence.
You sold that car didn't you?
I'd ask what your current 911 projects encompass, but I suppose I could just wander back over to Pelican and check it out (I've not spent much on that forum for the last few years; the 911 fascination has been back-shelfed due to competing demands; but the 2.7RS+ race-ish car is still sitting below me in the garage).
Ice climbing and 911s. How cool is that?
Ha, ha! Busted! Nope, never sold the car. I backed out of the deal, last minute and here it sits for the time being. I wind it up a couple of times every summer now. I'm good with that. A lot of energy and thought went into that car. I'll not likely do it again. But really fun to have btdt.
I should add some studs and run it to Canada next trip. That would be fun :)
That picture of the guide looks like Franco Obert of the Cham guide company. Is that him?
Mr. Obert? Likely, but I have no clue. The gentleman pictured was working for the Cham guide company in Feb of 2011.
It is Mr Obert! Thanks for the heads up ;)
My apologies to Mr Obert. I hope he is not offended. I didn't think anyone would take his picture (as a "Guide") or the comment literally.
Enzo used to say that a Ferrari was a young man's car that only an old man could afford.
More to the point, there are some things that clothing manufacturers might learn regarding fit for older athletes. For example, no male I know over 30 can fit into Patagonia's pants. And Black Diamond seems to be following the same path with their new clothing line...
Fair comment Chris. And I am not generally an advocate for Patagonia. But..I just bought three versions of the Patagonia alpine pants simply becasue they fit me so well. Better than my Arcteryx pants actually. And I am well over 30.
Franco Obert is an awesome guide.
I've spent many wonderful days with him climbing and skiing in the Mont Blanc range.
This is a great point as a final point. How many "elitist" do they actually think there are in the world? I am 30 so I cannot agree or comment the lack of marketing towards an older age group because I just haven't experienced it. I will say that the new designs and technology are fantastic that these companies work towards. Growing up in a family that bought clothes from walmart, target, and goodwill, I can attest to the fact I like high end, great performing equipment. After working in the oil fields for many years, I can afford most things. I have been slowly building the closet of goodies. I will say though, some of the prices these guys charge are comical at times. I have a old TNF in Gore Pro I got at a outlet for $150 and it is great but seen better days. I bought more recently a Arc'Teryx Beta AR on sale from $500 for $280 and I can safely say that it is not worth the $500 in my opinion. People don't like TNF anymore because they are so big now and make some less quality stuff in China, however Arc makes a vast majority of their stuff in China as well, and there is a reason they can have 50 percent off sales. So my final conclusion is, buy nice quality stuff and if you still have to be money conscientious, consider all the high end outdoor brands and if the price is right buy it as long as it is a good FIT, I don't care about color as much, to an extent :).
I like good Scotch!
Ya I heard...blood and Scotch...your kind of fun. You must be slumming it to be reading this kind of trash. Nice one!
The outdoor industry has no doubt grown in the past few years. Everyone wants adventure in their lives these days and I personally believe the movies are the reason people these days are motivated for outdoor adventures.
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