CAPABILITIES

Creating the future outdoors

AIRZONE+ TREK & PRO

LOWE ALPINE

Lead Designer  Michael Hinchliffe
Design Engineer  Sorin Dicu
Lead Developer Anna Kennett

Company — Equip Outdoor Technologies UK Ltd.
Launched — SS20

THE CHALLENGE: To redesign the flagship AirZone products, improving the weight, comfort, functionality and carry experience, whilst maintaining a high level of breathability.

THE OUTCOME: A range of award winning, ventilated hiking packs that are lighter, highly functional and body conforming, utilising patented FormKnit technology to produce zoned breathability and structure.

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INSIGHT & DISCOVERY:

Extensive research was undertaken for this project to enable us to fully understand the current state of the market, the competition and future trends that were emerging. Working directly with the users of Lowe Alpine’s existing packs gave us exceptional insight into what was working well and where there was room for improvement. In addition, human factors, such as looking at heat loss and anatomy added to the thorough body of research, allowing us to fully define the scope of the project and lay a strong foundation for design work to build upon.

CONCEPT DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT:

During this phase, numerous concepts were generated, through sketching and simple mock ups exploring form and function, taking into account all that was learned through insight and discovery.

Critical design thinking allowed us to understand how we would take these concepts through the whole process to manufacture and eliminate any problematic areas in our thinking early.

DESIGN VISUALISATION:

Once a direction had been determined, the chosen concepts were visualised through 1:1 line drawings and presentation visuals to accurately define proportions and shapes, ready for sign off and subsequently sampling.

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SAMPLING:

Using the drawings as a guide, 1:1 card models of the packs form were produced before turning them into patterns and sewing up the basic silhouette. The block sample was then assessed and modified where needed until we reached the desired shape.

With the main shape of the pack complete, we then proceeded to add features through patterning and re-sampling until we had a pack that we were able to test and get valuable feedback from.

Once we reached a point where we were satisfied the design was in a good place, we continued development directly with the designated manufacturer to ensure a smooth transition to production. Regular communication through tech packs, video calls, email and trips to Vietnam ensured that the packs were developed as designed, to budget and in line with the critical path. 

PRODUCT ENGINEERING:

In addition to the design of the pack, we also designed a number of custom components that were either unique in function or style to elevate the packs functionality and aesthetic to another level. Like the packs, the components went through our design process and were subsequently modelled in 3D CAD to produce production ready parts. Before going to tool, we utilised 3D printing to assess the part’s and apply them to the pack for testing.

FABRIC ENGINEERING:

We’ve developed many fabrics before but none quite like this; FormKnit technology is a feat in fabric engineering.

Utilising the research into heat loss through the user’s back we mapped out a pattern that allowed us to position the most open parts of the knit on the hottest parts of the body and the structure in the cooler areas, maximising heat escape and air flow where you need it most. 

CREATIVE DIRECTION:

Both the AirZone+ Trek and Pro were designed to follow the existing design language of other packs recently released by Lowe Alpine, to strengthen brand identity and maintain a cohesive range.

Colour direction and graphics were implemented through the use of sales and market trend driven data to ensure that the colours chosen would be both relevant and well received.

Colour drawings and graphic specs were produced and presented along with Pantone swatches for both sign off and factory use in production.

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RECOGNITION:

This case study only shows a snap shot of the work and effort that went into producing the most advanced ventilated packs on the market and upon launch the hard work was rewarded with the “Outstanding Outdoor Gold Winner Award at Outdoor by ISPO 2019.”

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This project was completed whilst under employment by EQUIP OUTDOOR TECHNOLOGIES UK LTD.

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