He Said/She Said: If I Ran The North Face

He Said/She Said: If I Ran The North Face

Recently we were asked by a fellow traveler if we were sponsored by The North Face, I laughed and said no, I wish (hint: North Face, most of what we carry you made…and is wearing out…if you could help us out…).  But if we do have some recommendations for you, or any gear maker that’s listening, to make your stuff more travel friendly.




The North Face and several other companies focus on outdoors goods, but also make travel gear, the reality is that for many people these aren’t separate categories.  As outdoors companies realized that athletics gear and outdoors gear intersect, so does travel.  This is an area that there are many simple changes people could make and make a huge impact.

  1. Compressible hiking boots.  What takes up the most space in our Base Camp Duffel?  Our hiking boots.  They are necessary to keep our feet dry and ankles straight, as much as I want to travel with our trail runners, it just isn’t possible boots are required on many hikes.  We could buy cheap boots as needed, though when your feet are your transport, quality is worth it, but the weight and size is a bitch.  With newer, lightweight materials, such as those in the latest Gore-Tex trail runners, plus some strong, fold-able, sides and you’d have my business.
  2. Wicking formal wear.  I love my wicking t-shirts, I have a wide array of North Face, Nike and REI shirts, in fact, I own very few non-wicking shirts these days, but at the end of the day, when I need to look a little more classy, there are few acceptable options.  Look, I don’t care to look like I’m camping…even when I am camping.  I don’t want lumberjack plaid, printed patterns or giant logos, I want something that can handle the heat, hike, and a nice restaurant.  I don’t have the space to pack for separate occasions, just make some things that will won’t get me bounced from a fancy place.
  3. Packing bags.  The Pack-IT system by Eagle Creek is doing a great job for professionals, but athletes, outdoors-men, and your Average Joe don’t have such standardized items to pack.  We carry electronics (need padding), sharp items and things that need waterproofing.  Currently we have a mixed bag of products from  Eagle Creek, SeaLine, Sea to Summit, Ziploc, and others.  Having seen inside hundreds of travelers packs, I can see there is a huge unmet market need for this.  Just meet up with me, I’ll show you the problems we and our fellow travelers have.  To steal/modify a phrase from computing, the problems of long-term travelers today are the future problems of the mass market tomorrow.



After being on the road for 14 straight months I consider myself an expert of sorts in travel gear.  I know what works and what features I want in each piece of clothing, bag and shoe I use.  Unfortunately, I find all too often that my wants are not met.

Is it too much to ask for my bag to carry itself? For my hiking boots to have jet propulsion?  Or for our iPhone to set off an alarm when a pickpocket is eyeing up my cash stash?  Okay, maybe that’s asking a lot, but realistically I don’t think it’s expecting too much for my pants to have pockets and for my bags to have interior organization compartments.  It is astonishingly difficult to come across women’s clothing in particular that has zipper pockets…really?

The lack of obviously useful travel features that are seemingly impossible to find is downright upsetting.  Here is a short list of simple features that would improve the usefulness of my gear:

  1. Internal pockets. everything is better with pockets, I understand they add weight, but I just want a small one sewn into the inside seam of the waist band of my pants or the inside of my jacket.  I want a pocket that is relatively easy for me to access but damn difficult for anyone else to get their fingers on without first asking me on a date and buying me dinner.
  2. Waterproofing: I want my bags to have at least one waterproof pocket, for say my passport or my camera.  So if  I get caught in the rain I have one safe haven for my precious items and don’t have to fret if I forgot my rain cover.
  3. Extra fabric: why is it that all the shirts I buy come with an extra button, but never an extra scrap of fabric for a quick repair?  Or how about the fact that formal wear such as tuxedos come with extra fabric, but not my camping pants.  Let’s discuss how likely it is that my tuxedo/cocktail dress get a tear at a cocktail party versus my camping pants getting a tear on a glacier in New Zealand? How great would it be if your travel clothes came with a small piece of extra fabric sewn into the seam that I could cut off and use to repair a hole-brilliant!

I understand when people say that travel is a lot of work, there are so many things to keep track of, but if you didn’t have to worry about your passport going for a swim, or your money falling out of a non-zipper pocket it would make things so much easier.  I’m still holding out for a backpack with a built in flight-pack, but until then I will settle for zipper pockets in my shorts.

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» Kate C :
Feb 26, 2012

I completely agree about the packing bags!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kate, I’m sure with all of your travel experience you have many wishes for North Face as well. Hope all is well in WA!

» Suzanne Kramer :
Mar 6, 2012

Joy and Blessings to you both
from back here in the “winter of NON-winters in Mpls.”
You have probably already handled this, but, of course, you got my marketing advertising bug all lit up with North Face. Peter managed one of the first North Face
Stores in California. Have you already or do you need someone to literally drop this
little epistle into their corporate bag? I am on it if you want it. Suzy

LOCAVORista Reply:

Suze, we could always use help getting our foot in the door ;) We love The North Face and have been really impressed with how the gear has held up considering all we’ve put it through. Keep enjoying the great Minnesota weather!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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