Move over corporate speak, gear speak is here.
Guess what, we’ve got a new gear editor. But before we let him get into the nitty gritty of YKK zippers and overlock stitching, we asked him what really grinds his gears (pun very much intended) about the outdoor equipment world. His answer?
The often nonsensical names that brands like to register and trademark… I’m looking at you ThermoBall™.
It’s the outdoor world’s version of corporate jargon. And it seems like no brand is immune to the techy groupthink. We love to hate it.
So here it is… our non-exhaustive list of nonsense names for everything from bits of fabric to the types of tread on your shoes.
1. XA PRO V1 X ORGANICLAB.ZIP
I don’t know about you, but this ‘shoe’ is named after a file extension. Even if we allow the zip file at the end of the name (it’s thanks to a collab), there’s still a few too many 10 point scrabble letters in there. Seriously, what does any of it actually mean? Credit where it’s due though, it’s a classic shoe from the folks at Salomon.
Sometimes it’s as simple as sticking two words together. SuperFabric® refers to a collection of fabrics that cover a host of outdoor gear. I personally discovered the stuff on Arc’teryx’s Acrux TR GTX Boot – which has a lot going on in the name as it is.
The word ‘omni’ comes from Latin and essentially means ‘all’. That makes the compound Omni-Tech from Columbia even better. All-Tech. What more could you want?
We discovered some of that ‘all-tech’ for ourselves recently in our write up on their Grand Trek Jacket.
What do you say when you want to keep water at bay? Patagonia might have hit the nail on the head with this one. H2No® Performance Standard is Patagonia’s so-called benchmark for waterproofness, breathability and durability.
A garment achieves ‘No’ status after undergoing a rigorous three-pronged waterproof test. Patagonia simulates light rain, prolonged rain, and finally they force water through the face of a fabric. When it works, like it does in their Torrentshell 3L waterproof Jacket (another cracker), we tend to give brands a pass on their funny naming conventions.
Oftentimes it seems like a brand might defer to a random word generator and call it a day. I’m not really sure what a BodyfitZone™ is, but it’s in some Icebreaker thermals we reviewed. Sounds like a fun zone.
No, the square brackets weren’t my editorial touch, [opti•vibe] comes with the brackets – for no other reason that I can detect, other than that they look cool. Bloody hell, they’re even on the shoes. Although, Salomon do have a whole web-page dedicated to ‘what is [opti-vibe]?’ and although they don’t explain the name at all, [opti•vibe] describes ‘a unique combination of cushioning and performance.’
Over 200 different lug geometries went into Salomon’s Contagrip® and there’s no arguing they redefined the grip game in the last few years.
If you’re a big grip guy or gal, you might have some thoughts on the battle between Contagrip® and Vibram® but it’s more likely that you only care about your lug geometry if you’ve just trodden in dog shit.
VISLON® is pretty much every plastic zipper you’ve ever used. Those ubiquitous little tracks don’t seem like a big deal until they swallow half your jacket or your sleeping bag during an errant zip.
However, VISLON® is just the tip of the zip (read: iceberg) when it comes to YKK zippers – YKK being the Japanese zipper parent company. You can add VISLON® PRIFA®, METALUXE®, AQUASEAL®, AquaGuard®, QuikFree®, Natulon Plus™, click-TRAK®, QuickBurst® and about a dozen more gnarly zipper names with inconsistent capitalisation to their range and still not understand zip.
We’ll write about and review The North Face’s FUTURELIGHT™ fabric until the cows come home, and while it lives up to the space age moniker, it’s still a crazy name that comes with no explanation.
Presumably it has something to do with the fabric being ‘ultra-thin nano spun polyurethane’, or in other words, futuristic and light AF. In fact, that’s what I’d have called it: LIGHT AF TECH™, which is obviously short for ‘Light As Feathers Technology™’. Eat your hearts out, North Face.
The OG registered trademark tech. GORE-TEX® stormed onto the scene way back in 1976 courtesy of W. L. Gore and Associates, and has been the gold-standard in outdoor weatherproofing for decades. They’ve also been a leader in having their little brand name plastered on everything from mountaineering down suits to Supreme tracksuits.
These days there’s GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ for light waterproofing and even GORE-TEX® INFINIUM™ THERMIUM™.
Of course there’s more than ten and any number of SensiFIT™’s or Quicklace™’s could’ve made the cut.
Yet, the honourable mention goes to the folks at Arc’teryx, who somehow managed to trademark WaterTight™ zippers.
If only it were always that simple.
Cover image courtesy of the ‘marketing team’ models at Unsplash.