Equipment Design

| July 15, 2008

“Weight, strength, cost. Pick any two.”

 Joe Skrivan, Black Diamond Design Manager on designing outdoor products.

Equipment design is a series of trade-offs between function, weight, strength and cost. Hitting any two of those is easy, any three is difficult and getting all four is what constitutes a “classic design.”  A super-strong, lightweight set of ski poles which costs $500 isn’t a viable product, nor is a $20 pair which break on the first day.  More than most industries, climbing and ski equipment favors a less-is-more, form-follows-function philosophy. The best designs are the ones where if you to remove any single part, no matter how tiny, the product won’t work.  Given any two approaches to a design problem, the simpler one is almost always the best. 

 Lightweight, strong, and very, very expensive!
Lightweight, strong and very, very expensive!  Two out of three is close enough for World Champion Stephan Brosse.

Changes in the sport will often drive new gear design, and new gear designs will at times change the sport. The desire to go light and fast drove a whole new generation of extremely lightweight equipment, but shaped skis changed the way people actually skied. It pays to keep an open mind about new gear, but at the same time avoid the sales hype and use equipment that actually works for you.

For 15% off on the classic Grivel Air Tech axe from, click the photo below…



Category: 02 Gear

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (1)

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  1. Bob says:

    Best graphics EVER on a boot. When can us mortals expect to get some snakeskin boots? They’ll kill it during aprés at the tavern.

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