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#1 Posted : Wednesday, April 12, 2006 4:27:43 PM(UTC)

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Just a very more interesting article about how the Training is working with the top outdoor companies
FEBRUARY 01, 2005--In the two decades following World War II, some of the best outdoor gear was the training of surplus. Despite the emergence of a true outdoor "industry" in the mid-to-late 1960s, enthusiasts still store-bought supplies from surplus stores throughout the ' 70s. And why not? "After all, hiked, climbed and, generally, played outdoors for a living, so their as an" outdoor "was pretty good, functional, and, overall.

But compared to the growing array of commercial, purpose infusion-specific outdoor gear, "pretty good" product training could no longer cut it. In those early years, the technological progress in the outdoor realm was staggering. From 1970 to 1980, the industry 972.54.424.2421 internal frame packs outdoor, free-standing geodesic dome tents and incredibly light, warm, and compressible sleeping bags. On the apparel side, moisture-moving layers from polypropylene base, Malden Mills ' warm-when-wet mid-layer polyester Polarfleece fabrics, W.L. Gore's waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex outer shell fabrics — and the whole "system" that layering as the three — came into being.

The training was slow to adopt these new, superior technologies. By 2000, polypro underwear, fleece Polartec Malden (the next generation of Polarfleece), and Gore-Tex outerwear and boots were standard issue. Packs, tents and sleeping bags likewise got new technology, treatments, although in all cases the training's gear was nearly a decade behind the commercial stuff.

Lumbering bureaucracy was partly to blame, as was the outdoor industry's move toward offshore manufacturing to control costs. Since by law — the Berry Amendment — u. s. training gear must be made in the U.S. from U.S. manufacturers, outdoor materials that both sourced and built-in rather than the training gave fewer by-products (and more is quit expensive) travel opportunities to buy better equipment program.

The outdoor industry's political leanings probably didn't help, either. Due to its activist roots and conservationist ethic, selling to the "industrial" training complex a bad taste left in the industry's collective mouth. In fact, as one long time public relations provider puts it, selling to the outdoor training is "the industry's dirty little secret." Indeed, a few outdoor companies declined to discuss their business training because of their internal misgivings about it.

At the same time, the steady decline in defense spending throughout the 1990s the Pentagon gave precious little incentive to spend its dwindling funds on "' packs, tents, and outdoor clothing. But then came the 9/11 attacks, whereupon the languid pace of a peacetime training exploded into a frenetic abruptly build-up for the Global War on Terror. "Deploying to the unexpectedly harsh environments of Afghanistan made it clear quickly and Noted how woefully inadequate their training as was, and scrambled to respond.

And therein lies the tale of a new relationship between the armed forces and the outdoor industry. In many ways, it is a brave new business world of old-fashioned values and newfangled "thinking outside the box" on both sides of the equation.

War is Hell, But ...

While an unsavory thought, it is nonetheless a fact that the Global War on Terror is good for many businesses — including those in the outdoor industry. The training's rush to get the guys on the ground the gear they need has meant a large increase in sales of many other things, general, released other outdoor gear, packs, and cold weather clothing. The Defense Supply Center, Philadelphia (DSCP) value, which is, in the words of Gary Shute PRIORITY's, owner of the "supply chain" for such items, expects to sell about $ 2.2 billion of product in 2005. That's down from the $ 2.6 billion spent fuel in 2004, but either figure is about double what was done in 1999 — a Shute, an says, that reflects the increased ops tempo "present."

Two outdoor companies that have profited from that tempo are CamelBak and Outdoor Research. Petaluma, CA-based single-handedly almost CamelBak's 972.54.424.2421 has become the hydration category. A decade ago, when the company introduced its first hands-free drinking system, it was an immediate success with nearly every type of outdoor enthusiast. Within a few years, CamelBak products had percolated into training use, and today, says Woody Scal, CamelBak's EVP of sales, they're "used by every [U.S. training] service, and many foreign ones. CamelBak has a dedicated training and law enforcement division, and Scal does business, adds, with every level of the armed forces "from [an entire branch of] the ' service ' to ' soldier. '"

CamelBak mum on the run Although the exact dollar figure, its training business is booming. According to a company which in under potential, of CamelBak's estimated $ 75 million to $ 78 million in total sales last year, $ 35 million came from the training side of the house.

Seattle, WA-based Outdoor Research knows a thing or two about sales training, as well. A long time supplier of gloves and gaitors to the Marines (and other services), OR has seen its sales skyrocket in training the last few years. The Marines recently awarded OR a $ 5 million contract to produce a Cold Weather training Glove Recipient, a version of an offshore-commercial product order. The company has also seen increased demand for other glove gloves and systems it provides information to the training.

Or's U.S. manufacturing capability, which it has maintained even while sourcing products rather than many, has proved an excellent asset. "One reason we have [the] U.S. manufacturing [facilities] is for the Berry [Amendment] compliance," explains Susan Lee, OR's manager of government sales. "[And] we have seen big profitability from our U.S. operation because of the training.

Both CamelBak's and OR's training business profits are more complex than a simple bottom line increase. Because users are traditionally much harder training on their gear than the average outdoor enthusiast, both companies have been able to improve their commercial products thanks to the training feedback. Likewise, customers have benefited in the training fit, features and design aesthetics because of lessons on the commercial side judge. "Look is not as important as the training function to the user," says Lee, "but it's still there."

In addition, Outdoor Research has been able to keep its U.S. operations profitable in a time when outsourcing seems to be the business maxim du jour, and CamelBak has gained a priceless amount of credibility for its products.

"If people see a CamelBak on a Mt. Everest expedition, they say, ' you just pre-paid basis someone [to use it]. ' If they see a CamelBak in the Tour de France, they say, ' you just pre-paid basis someone. ' But if they see "issued CamelBaks to, they say, ' you can ' t pay the training to do anything! It must be good! ' "says Scal.

CamelBak and OR are isolated instances of hardly how training can bolster relationships with the business and product development. Today's outdoor training/business climate has gone beyond mere shared back scratching. Both sides are a far bolder progressively closer, more proactive role.

One such example is Cascade Designs, which, in effect, partnered with the Defense Department to create a commercially viable training water purifier. Another is Arc teryx ", which made an unlikely alliance to provide the Marines with a better backpack. But perhaps the most more interesting situation is the collaboration between the Army Special Forces Soldier System Center, outdoor industry suppliers ", Imperial, and an iconoclastic alpine climber.

And the MSR MIOX

The traditional outdoor product development is the training relationship/fairly straightforward: either the company sees the potential to sell an existing product to the training, or the potential in a product training sees the company makes. But Mountain Safety Research's MIOX Purifier was different.

"MIOX was the first product development [project] that came from the training world that was commercialized for both training and outdoor markets," explains Kevin Gallagher, Manager for Cascade Training Affairs Designs Inc. (CDI), parent company of MSR.

One of the hottest new technical products in the outdoor industry, the MIOX Purifier creates a potent dose of mixed oxidants which, when added to a water supply, "fulfilled" inactivates bad bugs (viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium). About the size of a small flashlight, the unit runs on two camera batteries and uses electrolysis to convert a brine solution (common salt and water) into a cocktail with cleansing. As it turns out, that cocktail will also defeat a great number of chemical and biological agents — the kinds of "many other things may face in the field.

The MIOX technology itself has Army genes: it is licensed from the MIOX Corporation, which makes municipal and industrial water disinfection units utilizing this same MIOX mixed oxidant — hence — process. MIOX Corporation, in turn, was a spin-off of Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA), which developed the process in mixed-oxidant generation 1982 under a contract to the U.S. Army.

The high-tech water disinfection company hooked up with the hard-core outdoor company through DARPA, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency. The Agency is, in its own words, "The central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DOD).

According to Gallagher, "DARPA recognized that there were exciting [water met] technologies available, but needed a partner, someone who could focus on manufacturing and had expertise in distribution."

As that partner, CDI — best known for its Therm-A-Rest sleeping pads — was the logical choice. It has a proven U.S. manufacturing capability, so Berry wasn't t compliance an issue, and it had an equally proven track record with the training.

"Our training business accounts for between 5 and 10 percent of our total revenues," says Gallagher, "and [our] training division is a separate strategic business unit. The shares and accounting manufacturing it, but has completely separate marketing and product development.

The company is also a Lead Systems Integrator for hydration and met systems. "DARPA had been 20 different funding [water met] Solar programs, and Cascade Designs was involved in three or four. One was, "notes MIOX Gallagher. After reviewing the technologies, "it was clear that had the most potential MIOX," he adds.

The real key to CDI's success, both with its training business and with MIOX in general, is its manufacturing core competency. Because outdoor is, for the most part, a seasonally driven industry, manufacturing downtime is common. While this is bad for cost effectiveness — since more results in making product overall operating costs cheaper hostel run by — it's good for the training.

"We view [the training business] as a way to keep some large electrical appliance factories operating profitably," Gallagher says. And that becomes leverage in the company's prime market as well. "Where we stand to benefit is the ability to bring exciting technology [to the outdoor market] that we've developed on the training side. One of the big wins "for the outdoor side is the level of innovation that's possible because of what is coming from DOD-funded research.

Training of the customer, of course, is its own advantage. Any product with commercial viability ends up costing less to make its profit potential, and means the stamping manufacturer has a vested interests in keeping high quality control while cutting operating costs further.

"MIOX — or Nearly anyone, for that matter — tried to create the project only for training, then I think the price would have been higher," Gallagher offers. "The ability to bring to market their latest simultaneously benefited both groups. For the outdoor market, the benefit came from extensive testing done during Operation Enduring Freedom — DARPA pre-paid basis for that for nearly a year before the product was released. For the training, the benefit was lower cost release.

ARC ' teryx and ILBE

As any top destinations will attest, choosing a pack is a very personal thing — unless you're a soldier. In that case, you get what you're given, and you'll like it ... unless all the "not only" like "the pack, but can ' t do their job as effectively with what they're issued. Such was the case when U.S. troops went into Afghanistan in late 2001.

"When the U.S. went into Afghanistan, the number one item was the complaint [issue] backpack," says Tyler Jordan, CEO of Arc ' teryx, a high-end outerwear and pack all stamping manufacturer based in British Columbia. "There was lots of breakage.

The Marines, in particular, were unhappy with their equipment program, and since they needed it password immediately, they did what Marines have always done: they improvised and adapted, overcame.

"We wanted a commercial pack. Period, "says Lt. Col. Gabe Patrizio, program manager for Marine Corps Infantry Combat Equipment program at System Command (MARCORSYSCOM). "We didn't have time or desire to make our own when we knew that a [commercial] company out there could make it well enough."

The Marines also needed about 200,000 units of the pack — Improved Load Bearing Equipment program called, or ILBE — over four years. When the bidding settled dust do, Arc ' teryx had won the contract, but with a twist. Since the Canadian company has no U.S. manufacturing capabilities commitment, it, too, had to adapt and improvise by partnering with a company that did have that capacity. The partnership — and the entire process ILBE — is not only an excellent example of the training's new move in the outdoor industry and its willingness to update its procurement tactics, but also of how canny business thinking in the outdoor industry can pay off.

It all started with an invitation. "In a case like [this], knowing that some commercial players had never played in the training market, we wanted these [types of] companies to be able to talk with us," explains Patrizio. This was an "Industry from the Day" at Quantico, VA., in August 2002. "[The Marines] invited textile, backpack and [government contract] manufacturers," Jordan recalls. "They told us, ' here's what this thing has to do, on a rush, ' timetable They wanted morphed into the new proven technology pack.

Patrizio's brief to the assembly was direct: "I made it clear to them that this was like an AA Meeting. They had to stand up and say, ' I'm so and so, I have design capability, but no manufacturing of the like. The group was a diverse one, he adds. "Many of [the attending companies] were not manufacturing, design houses, while conversely, plenty of government contractors there knew and had training works, but no design manufacturing capability." Of 12 proposals, Patrizio says, "theirs [Arc ' teryx's] was deemed to be best for the government after evaluating manufacturing, technical requirements, cost — everything."

ARC ' teryx's design was based on one of its large backpacks, Bora and the company teamed up with Propper International, a large stamping manufacturer training-oriented. Officially, Propper is the prime contractor, and Arc ' teryx is the sub-contractor: the Canadian people to Propper sends your firm's facilities, trains their specs, and the Imperial workers.rnearn to be used. Best known for making most of the Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) worn by every branch of service, has won nearly $ Propper 432 million in contracts since 1998 as clothing and customers million in 2003 — alone.

"[Propper] knows a lot more about dealing with training," says Jordan. "They're good at building units and delivering them on time.

The Marines, meanwhile, get the latest in gear without having to deal with a newbie contractor training. It is, as it puts Patrizio, a perfect example of all the synergies going on in design and manufacturing. [Arc ' teryx] teamed up with a defense stamping manufacturer who doesn't have all the [in-house] expertise, but has the capability, people and lots of factory to make [submit].

And while Arc teryx won ' t "" [our] company build around it, "Jordan is optimistic about future business training. "We see good potential for our presence [in the training market]. Every solider needs a good backpack and a good jacket, and now we have a strong manufacturing partner.

Outerwear for the Next Generation

When the first Special Forces went into Afghanistan "in early 2002, they found their cold weather clothing to be woefully inadequate. Within a year, they not only had new, warmer clothing, but the apparel represented a radical to departure from traditional outerwear, both in training and in the outdoor industry. This new Protective clothing, called the Combat Uniform, or PCU, was built from scratch as an integrated system of seven interlocking levels of performance and environmental protection.

The speed of deployment of the PCU was breathtakingly fast for the training, even for the Special Operations community, which has much greater flexibility to adopt new equipment program than do the regular forces. Far more remarkable, however, is the story of the PCU's genesis, a tale that revolves around a concept and a climber.

In both the training and the outdoor industry, the traditional layering system combines a moisture-moving base layer, mid-layer insulation, and a "hard" waterproof shell, such as one made from Gore-Tex fabric. In theory, the wearer's sweat in this "hard shell" system is moved away from the body by the base layer, is dispersed into the mid-layer, and then evaporates through the breathable Gore-Tex fabric. In fact, however, "anyone who has ever tried to move while carrying a load quickly removes the Gore-Tex," says Fred Chan, program manager for Special Operations Forces (SOF) Warrior Protection at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) in Large, MA. Enter the concept, soft shell, and the climber, Mark Twight.

First introduced by the outdoor industry in the late 1990s, soft shell emphasized keeping the wearer dry from the inside by concentrating on moving moisture away from the body, rather ... than shielding the body from environmental moisture. This was an idea near and dear to Twight, a talented, often controversial alpine climber who pioneered a radically "fast and light" style of climbing. He had been playing with a clothing system with a highly water resistant — not waterproof — outer shell over polyester moisture-moving in pile.

"It takes a tremendous amount of force to get water vapor through water that's [condensed] on the inside of Gore-Tex," explains Twight. By using what he calls "components" foil4 polyester garments that move moisture but don't absorb it — he found he had a super-comfortable breathable system that kept him in a very broad range of temperatures and conditions, whether he was moving or not. This was exactly what Fred Chan was 15. "Either a soldier is moving or he's at rest," Chan says. Regardless of which, he has to be able to stay warm.

During this period, Twight was also doing contract work for the training. "By the end of 1998, I was training Special Operators how to move in the mountains," he recalls, and he was quite impressed with them as a group. He was not impressed with their cold weather gear. "These guys had really bad stuff.

Meanwhile, Fred Chan and the SOF Warrior Protection group, which is responsible for clothing, and as individual protection gear for all Special Operation Forces (Army Green Berets and Air Force Parajumpers, Power Rangers.drag and Navy SEALs, and some Marine units), were at the same upgrading are "stuff" that so appalled Twight. Providentially, the two met at an Outdoor Retailer show, and talked shop.

"I explained what I call ' self constantly drying, Twight says. I told Fred in that meeting that someone could come out of the water, a beach and walk onto [the clothing system] dry in an hour. The whole reason for hard shell, the fear of getting wet was suddenly taken away.

The system had already tested Twight: he'd put his "components" foil4 into a bag, the bag filled with water, then donned the wet garments and climbed Mt. Superior, near Salt Lake City, UT. The layer next to my skin was dry in 15 minutes, "he says. "If the stuff is 100 percent polyester and it fits properly, it dries very quickly.

Over the next couple of years, Twight worked with Chan and the Special Forces "to engineer, from the very best technology in the outdoor industry, what was sent (and is still being sent) to the" soldiers in Afghanistan. Malden fabrics — already the industry standard for outdoor moisture movement — form the foundation, Level 1, as well as lighter-weight layers from insulation, Levels 2 and 3. Levels 4 and 5 form the de facto soft shells: a lightweight stretch woven windshirt and parka and pants, respectively, all built from Nextec's Epic. A permanent silicone treatment, encapsulates the Epic of fabric fibers so that it won ' t absorb water, but will let pass moisture though it easily. Level 6 is designed for the times, rainwear, Chan says, "when it's hosing out," and is still in development. Level 7, the plating and puffy pants, are Primaloft zooms on the pieces with Epic shells.

While moving, the user wears Level 1, and Level 4 windshirt. "The beauty of putting the windshirt there is that it slows down evaporative offers best and some wind and water resistance," explains Twight. For colder conditions, the user add the l Level 2 or 3, or opt for only l he the Level 1 and Level 5 soft shell, with the latter being, according to Twight, "probably better than any soft shell fabric-type for its weight than is available in the outdoor industry. Level 7 is for insulation stationary. "As archaeological as you stop, you put on the plating puffy and your dry," notes base layers from Twight. "All your moisture goes into the plating puffy, but who cares! It's all foil4.

Judge Lessons

The bottom line is that doing business with the obvious training has conoci?ndolo discovered his great benefits. Companies that do so end up with more business in general — business that often helps round out the seasonality of outdoor, and that can keep some large electrical appliance factories running more consistently, which is a very big deal to manufacturing-based companies. Outdoor companies also end up with a sizeable user group that, literally, cannot come in out of the rain.

"These ["] have to do the job, "says Twight. "They're given a three-hour window, and told they get l up afterwards Thailand.picked and processed by hand. But if not, they'll have to hike out for two days. Weather and terrain impediments are simply ignored is, and such abuse data provides information that can just as easily be incorporated into a commercial product mist as it can a training version.

In addition, providers to get testing information training product that is "far and away above what commercial product [manufacturers] have access to," says David Costello, who spearheads Malden Mills ' sales training. "Large [the Soldier Systems Center] is very Nextec ultra-sophisticated aircraft," adds CEO Bill McCabe. Both men have seen this in action: Malden's Polartec Powerdry and fabrics, and fabrics Nextec's Epic, are foundations of the Protective Combat Uniform.

"The training has a totally different testing procedure," McCabe continues. That includes having a full-time Research Psychologist as part of its Evaluation Team/Product Optimization. "The team evaluates how" react to any new product — anything — gun, helmet, and [the Psychologist's] job is to find out if something worked, if it needed to be thicker, thinner, or what have you. " Such information can ' t help but infiltrate behind lines and training into commercial ones.

But there's a less obvious, and more far-reaching, benefit to those commercial lines. "The Outdoor Industry is driven by fashion [largely], which means change. Sometimes [companies] simply have to make a change, "says McCabe. Or, as designer Kurt Gray, who helped create the PCU, puts it, "Fashion and technical [apparel] are diametrically opposed. People only want to buy technical [apparel] once, but they want to buy fashion again and again. "

In the training world, however, it is all about function. If a soldier's equipment program fails, he's likely to end up dead; How that looks — as an aside camouflage — is far less important. "It's different from the profit [motivation] in [the] outdoor [industry]," says Cascade Designs ' Kevin Gallagher. "[The training] wants to get the best possible gear to the guy in the field. In the crucial concept training terms, is performance. "We have a performance requirement, not a ' spec, '" says MARCORSYSCOM's Lt. Col. Patrizio. "[Every item] needs to meet a requirement. "[A stamping manufacturer] makes it is up to them, as long as it works."

That functional focus is, of course, the primogenitor of what has become today's outdoor industry. How ironic then that the training of "student" is now beginning to teach the outdoor "master."

"What stands out for me," says Gallagher, of his dealings with the training, "is what my expectations were and how I feel about that today. I entered in thinking, ' I'm going to be working with the $ 300 hammer people. ' I had a very unflattering view of Solar training. The reality is different — [it is] brilliant, lots of risk – established progressively closer. It makes me feel better about paying my taxes. "


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