In this segment, our very own Steve Keefer talks with Galen Armstrong, Arc'teryx Designer - Law Enforcement & Armed Forces (LEAF), to get a behind-the-scenes point of view on their best-in-class gear. Galen shares his insights on the process, the inspiration, the prices, and what makes LEAF special.
1. The Alpha Jacket is undoubtedly your cream of the crop, and the quality is immediately apparent to anyone who has checked one out. The cost though, has generated rumors that each one is made with pure diamonds and woven with gold thread. Seriously though, why's this puppy so expensive? And what's the 'wow factor'?
Indeed, the Alpha jacket is our pinnacle piece to combat extreme wet and snowy conditions. The Alpha is actually a sum of its parts, starting with 100% Made in the USA Gore-Tex® fabrics that are chosen for their performance, comfort, and durability properties, based on years of testing, evaluation, refinement, and retesting, until finally deemed fit for use.
Each feature in the jacket is built in house by our design and development teams, and proven out with internal testing trials, and then followed up with extended Testing and Evaluation trials performed by end users in real time training and deployment situations.
After months in the field, we re-evaluate user feedback and continue to make adjustments if required, until the product is worthy of the Arc’teryx logo. We cut no corners on the trims and materials used, and every Alpha Jacket is made to exacting standards at our state of the art factory right here in Vancouver, B.C., so that each step can be closely monitored and we can monitor production first hand, and assure perfect quality control. Only the best is good enough for our customers, which is why each Alpha Jacket really is worth its weight in gold.
2. As it relates to your end user, what makes Arc'teryx best in class? How does that help them in their application of the gear, to further their mission?
Our line is purpose-built to address the needs of the most demanding Mil/LE end-users and there is absolutely no divergence from this objective. Because the scope of end-user we focus on is extremely tight, we have the ability to get a complete in-depth understanding of their needs based on longstanding relationships in place. Arc’teryx is an R&D machine backed with a really strong global supply chain system. Our design team takes a no compromise approach, which involves developing materials and creating new methods of manufacturing, innovative designs, and constructions because we know the end-user will not tolerate failure. We really understand that for them, only the best is good enough.
3. What's a project that you're particularly proud of, and why?
Every project so far has had unique requirements and challenges, and addresses a need for our customers. So far, what makes me feel the most proud isn’t a specific product, but it’s when I meet end users and they share a time when they were using a certain product and it actually did help them out in a situation that they were in. A lot of guys have said thank you, and it makes me really happy to know I’m able to help them out and make their jobs easier in some way. I will say that there are some products coming down the pipe in 2016 that I’m pretty sure people will be happy with, so keep your eyes open!
4. The products in your line scream quality, planning, care, and thought, but where do the product ideas come from? How do those ideas become the final product? Can you walk us through a product's life, from idea to concept to manufacture to commercial launch?
I’ll be honest, the process of getting it right isn’t quick, and you can’t cut corners. Right now, our team has already begun conceptualizing product to be released in 2018. It all starts from identifying gaps in the line, where we can expand and build cases for new categories. Having a solid understanding of the geo-political situation is imperative; as you know, the battle space changes and our end-users need equipment that will work for them in these environments, instead of just making the equipment work. Each project is treated differently, but the entire process from conceptualization to release often take 2 years, in the case of the DryPack the project timeline was almost doubled due to the complexity of the project.
5. If you could tell everyone one thing about Arc'teryx LEAF, what would you tell them?
When you are required to perform in severe austere weather conditions, you get it.
Tactical Guru David Kramer of Uber Group demonstrates how Arc'teryx LEAF fabric can help cool you down when needed.