Good companies do extensive research and development prior to releasing their products to consumers. Few brands take it the extreme that Baffin does though. Baffin’s CEO, Paul Hubner, believes “Living the brand” is not some hollow phrase thought up by a pasty group of marketing guys in suits. Having completed treks to some pretty far-flung points on the globe, including both poles as well as Everest Base Camp, he’s put more than just the company’s reputation on the line. And while he may just be a regular guy most of the time, he’s also the kind of dad that took his three sons on a pretty grueling trip to Baffin Island this past March. As we commented in our earlier article on that trip, crossing the Arctic Circle is not your typical spring break getaway.
After that chilly “vacation”, they’re heading to warmer climes while they continue to put their latest gear to the test. From June 14th to July 3rd of this year, Paul and his Ryan, who is the youngest of the three, will be traveling to Nepal. Why Nepal? With Kathmandu getting 200-375 millimeters of rain (that’s about 8-15 inches for stubborn, metric-resisting Americans) during the monsoon season, it’s a great environment for proving the effectiveness of the two new rain jackets Baffin is currently developing. In addition, they’ll be wearing the Trail to Rapids hiking shoes. We reviewed a pair of these outstanding lightweight shoes (so light, they float) last year, and came away quite impressed. Between the sticky rubber outsole and extremely well ventilated upper, there are five internal layers that channel water and moisture out. This design allows water to flow through and out, while an ingenious mesh keeps large and small rocks and other irritating matter from entering through the drain channels. Then end result is a shoe that stays cool, provides plenty of traction wet or dry, allows you to cross streams easily, and then dries quickly. It’s the perfect shoe for an afternoon hike, or a trek through Nepal during the rainy season.
It should also be noted that they’re not just going to test the new jackets and shoes. Paul has generously offered to provide much-needed financial assistance to the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation for a period of five years. His financial support ensures that the Solu Khumbu Sherpas of Nepal will have access to quality health care, educational opportunities, and will also assist with their reforestation efforts. Not content to simply mail a few checks, Paul and Ryan will volunteer their time at the Sir Edmund Hilary School and Hospital, and Ryan will also put in some hours at the Khunde Hospital in Khumjung as well. We think that goes above and beyond corporate responsibility. Unlike companies that make donations for selfish reasons, Baffin is reaching out and making a lasting difference.
For more information on the Baffin product line, check out Baffin.com. If you’ would like to read more about Paul’s travels, there are also links on the site to articles and photos covering his polar expeditions. The diary provides fascinating insight into each trip, and is an excellent supplement to the images. Baffin is a company worth watching, in more ways than one.