The initial prototypes started with a few designs and sending them off to the factory for sampling. At this stage you don't really know what's going to come back at you and in this case we stumbled across an innovative exterior slash pocket feature. On this occasion it was dropped (but since it attracted some interest it may be revived on future designs).
Some things obviously needed changing; we didn't need a pro-user to tell us that. The pocket went on the inside where it was supposed to be and its volume increased so it could double as a stuff bag. An extra panel was added to the base of the jacket to keep our butts warm and a microfibre lining was added to the collar. We were also able to tailor the design and choice of materials to meet the price point we had in our heads. This meant making some basic decisions; no hood, single colour, basic non DWR treated fabric, 700 fill power down (well some things you can't skimp on!).
Taking to the hills
Ken had been wearing 'the' prototype for a number of weeks, but now we all had one and we wanted to experience some sub zero action. Our chance came on our February trip to Munich and the Dolomites. Munich was deep in the clutches of a cold snap but we could walk around in just a T, convenient since we were attending a hot trade show. In the Dolomites they were invaluable, we were camping rough and never have the evenings felt so long.
The jackets were still someway off production, we had no money to pay for them but we had negotiated a second colour in exchange for an increased production run. We had a list of shows we were due to attend; the Outdoors Show, Head for the Hills and Urban Escapes so we took our prototypes on tour. Our biggest problem was trying to keep hold of them, not that we minded at all! we were just sorry that they wouldn't be available sooner. We did our best though, loaning them out at the after party parties that seemed to end up on our stand.
We all had our own opinions on this.. and we even found ourselves liking some colours we didn't expect. Black was a no brain'er, if we didn't do that we would be shooting ourselves in the foot but what could we do for the second colour?. It had to be different so that Mister and Missus could walk around together. The misses were attracted to the retro red but in the end fate played a hand and we settled for Nemo blue.
The good bit - or so we had hoped
We had been hoping to upgrade this jacket to a boxwall construction, but having met with our factory it has been necessary to postpone this idea until we can sort out some production issues.