TalkUltra's Ian Corless reports back from the Arc'teryx Media Camp in the Pyrenees, and explains why Arc'teryx's North American manufacturing facility gives them the edge when it comes to incorporating athlete feedback into their designs
Mention the word Arc’teryx to any outdoor lover and you will typically get a one word answer that is drawn out as though the word is made of too many letters; N I C E !
And they would be correct. Arc’teryx make nice kit. Just like Stellar Artois, it is reassuringly expensive.
The first big question is the name… explanation please! Named for ARCHAEOPTERYX LITHOGRAPHICA, the first reptile to develop the feather for flight, freeing itself from the constraints of the horizontal world.
Arc’teryx achieves an advantage with its products by merging un-rivaled designs with the highest quality and highest performing materials. They use innovation and unique assembling techniques to make durable products that perform in the intended environment for the intended sport. The Endorphin range is the epitome of this ethos.
I was very fortunate to be invited to the Pyrenees in July for a ‘media camp’ to review and test the new Endorphin running range for 2013. This media camp was arranged in conjunction with Skyrunning and the Skygames of which Arc’teryx are a partner and as such they had several Arc’teryx sponsored athletes taking part, Adam Campbell, Murray Strain and Nicola Gollinelli to name just a few who participated in the events.
The media camp assembled journalists from Italy, France, UK, Germany, Spain and Sweden and we all congregated after a lengthy transfer from Barcelona in Ribagossa. Nestled in a mountain hotel we spent a superb three days learning about the Arc’teryx brand, running in the mountains testing the Endorphin range and of course we had some wonderful relaxation time with great food and great company.
Photos: Departing for VerticalK. Arc’teryx athlete Adam Campbell
The Arc’teryx advantage
Arc’teryx have an advantage! They are one of only a few major outdoor industry outerwear brands to have its own domestic North American manufacturing facility. This allows them to readily develop proprietary manufacturing processes, enabling them to efficiently create superior features that other manufacturers simply cannot build. They are able to design a product one day, manufacture it the next day and then by the third day the product is being tested out on the trail or in the mountains. It is this level of immediate feedback that enables Arc’teryx to select the right fabrics, construction and weight to ensure that not only the garment performs to the best of it’s ability but importantly, so that you perform to the best of your ability! It’s a synergy of design, fabric, manufacturing and performance.
Adam Campbell explained in detail how he had specific demands for the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in which he placed second overall. A tough 100-mile run that had very specific equipment requirements.
Adam needed a lightweight race pack that could hold mandatory equipment and allow him to hydrate easily while on the move. He needed a lightweight waterproof jacket with hood and over trousers. All these items were manufactured to Adam's exacting needs, all within one week. It is this on site facility of design, manufacture and immediate testing that allows these new innovations to transfer down to us, the consumer.
Working in conjunction with textile manufacturers, Arc’teryx are able to select and develop the highest performing and most durable materials that are specific to the demands of the sport in which the garment will be worn. It’s about finding that balance between weight, breathability, waterproofness and durability.
GORE-TEX® Pro Shell
Coreloft™ & Thermatek™ Insulation
Fortius™ & Polartec® Softshell
Phasic™ base layer fabrics
MAPP Merino Wool
420ACT™ AC² pack materials
Engineered to meet the needs of the most demanding athlete. Activity-specific patterning ensures complete freedom of movement, and each product is critically scrutinized and detailed for the intended end use.
e3D patterning for enhanced range-of-motion
Snowsports specific outerwear features
Hoods with quick, one-hand adjustment
Tri-Dex glove patterning
Packs with articulated & breathable components
All these elements combine to ensure that Arc’teryx maintain an advantage over its competition. The synergy may make the products a little more expensive but believe me, when you see the difference; it is a price worth paying!
Photos: The author Ian Corless and the group at the top of the VerticalK
Testing in the Pyrenees
I can’t think of a better way to test a product than to put the stuff on and go and run it. Luckily the Arc’teryx staff very kindly provided all of us with the opportunity to run (walk) the VerticalK course as used in the Skygames. If you are new to Skyrunning and the races that they have, the VerticalK goes up 1000m with a typical gradient of some 30+% so effectively you cover a distance of around 3.5km and ascend 1000m. They are tough to do, particularly if you race them!
We congregated in the car park and with the help of Arc’teryx athletes as guides, we started on our way. A promise of a sumptuous picnic and cold drinks on our return was surely just a ploy to get us up the mountain…
Like a flock of canaries we took flight. Our citrus Motus SS shirts made us look like a professional team out on a training camp. Unfortunately the reality was quite different. No sooner had we crossed the main road, gone up a small alleyway, that the climb started. The laughter and chat soon subsided as, one by one, everyone started to power walk.
Steep climbing and rutted technical trail underfoot made the 1000m ascent good fun. We had great company, beautiful weather, stunning views and incredible scenery. Overhead birds soared. Giant birds, eagle like in groups of 3’s and 4’s. It was incredible.
In our own time we each made our ascent to the imaginary finish line. Several of us ascended higher to get a panoramic vista of the whole mountain range, it was an incredible view.
The 1000 m drop back down to the car park offered a different test. Not a demand on aerobic ability and fitness, but a test of technique, nerve and confidence. As promised, cold drinks and a picnic awaited!
Click here to read the initial product review of the new Arc'teryx Endorphin range