[ak] guide project.
The [ak] guide program was spawned by the outerwear needs of working guides, pro patrol, avy control, and search and rescue professionals. These guys live in the elements and destroy gear. In addition they have a totally different set of needs and priorities to regular skiers and snowboarders. The mission was to design and develop purpose built gear, that helps them do their job better.
Naturally we needed to spend time with our friends at Baldface, and Powder Mountain to take a closer look at how they used and abused their gear. It was immediately clear that the first problem to solve was dedicated radio management. In addition some operations like to use remote mic’s, others didn’t. They are in constant communication with other guides / pilot’s etc. and need to have their radio secured and accessible.
Nobody wanted hand pockets – they all wear backpacks all the time, and the waistbelt strap renders hand pockets useless. Consensus was to not have a powder skirt either. The guide book, however comes out every run, all the time. And the book includes a thermometer for checking snowpack temps that can’t get bent or broken. Another problem was clients skis or boards getting ice build up on the base, while shuttling outside a cat or heli – they needed easy access to a scraper. They also asked for easy access to big pit zips, and to be able to adjust their lower hem cinch with gloves on. Everybody asked for durability. They literally live in the gear, and average product just gets destroyed.
We went to work and developed organizational solutions for the primary tools first. Commercial radio pocket that locates the radio to not inhibit movement, or interfere with wearing a backpack. Above the radio pocket we included a mic pocket that’s accessed from the inside, with ports linking the pockets for the mic wire. The guide can key the mic and speak while wearing gloves, and not exposing the radio to the outside elements. On the opposite side we developed a reach across cargo pocket for easy access to the guide book, properly positioned on the chest for backpack straps. We incorporated the [ak] drop hood, so the collar can stand properly when the hood is down in foul weather (guides keep their hoods off most of the time so they can hear better). The jacket is constructed out of the toughest Gore-Tex 3L Proshell in the [ak] range.
Simple, bomber tough, and ultra functional.
The cool thing about projects like this is that an interesting aesthetic emerges from purely functional needs. It’s honest design as nothing is superfluous.
Electric blue was used for all the guide jackets as it’s the most visible at a distance in low-vis conditions.
Baldface guide crew gett’ner done [bc] style.
Not for sale at a dealer near you. Less than 50 guide jackets are currently in existence, and being tested on-snow by workin pro’s. And most of them are at Baldface.