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The latest at trekmates

Best Accessory 2017

16 March 2017

Thank you to everyone who voted for us in the UK Outdoor Industry Awards, we’re very excited to announce that our Mountain Pod group shelters have won! So, we asked designer Ed Cooper to tell us a little more about the process and technical excellence behind 2017’s Best Outdoor Accessory.

After ten months, two shows, three finalists and two million impressions on social media, the only outdoor industry competition in the world to use both industry and public voting streams has come to a close – and the votes are in: we won.

The winners of the UK Outdoor Industry Awards 2017 – in association with the Outdoor Industries Association – were announced last night at the OIA conference dinner in Harrogate, with our very own Mountain Pod Group Shelters coming out as the Best Accessory.

It is – in the words of Brand Director Chris Prentice – a testament to the hard work put in by our product team over the last few years, to focus on creating a range of outdoor accessories that are perfect for purpose.

With that in mind, we decided to look a little deeper at the hard work behind the scenes that has resulted in this award.

Product designer Ed Cooper was the one charged with taking the old Trekmates storm shelters and redeveloping them into 2017’s Best Outdoor Accessory.

“We took a long hard look at our old storm shelters, and similar products on the market, and saw that although they work well in an emergency situation they can be quite claustrophobic and not a particularly nice place to be.

“With this Mountain Pod we wanted to create a shelter that not only works in an emergency but also provides a comfortable space for lunch, group discussions, or, just a bit of a rest.”

IMG_8697 (002)To get the old shelters to where they are today, they had to be taken back to the bare bones and redeveloped.

“It was basically stripping down the design of our old storm shelter, and looking at how we could make it simpler and more suited to purpose.

“We decided on five key features to focus the redevelopment; weatherproofness, visibility, ventilation, comfort and ease of use. To us, the shelters don’t need to be overly complicated, they have a job to do, and we just want them to do that job well.”

This philosophy has certainly paid off, with an outdoor industry vote landing the shelters as one of three finalists in the awards, and then a lengthy public vote that saw them crowned champions.

It’s in the attention to detail that these pod’s excel. Not only do they have the double sewn seams, and PU coated polyester that would be expected to keep them waterproof, but there are also waterproof seat flaps inside the pod – offering comfort and a dry place to sit. It creates a cocoon of protection.

Ed explains, that they looked to bring in certain features to elevate the comfort and suitability of the shelters, setting them apart from others on the market in the process.

“The most noticeable is the panoramic TPU window along each side. It gives everyone inside the shelter a much better view to the outside world, meaning you’re more likely to spot your rescuers in an emergency situation, but it also helps the pod feel a little less isolated.

DSC_4122“My favourite feature is the vented chimney. It came about as the solution to a couple of challenges we came up against.

“Firstly, the build-up of heat in a crowded pod creates a lot of condensation– so we needed ventilation to keep things comfortable. The other challenge was where to put the integrated stuffsack.

“The chimney has been designed so that a trekking pole can be positioned in the vent, acting as a central pole to the shelter and giving everyone inside a little more space and headroom.

“It’s a great example of what we’re trying to achieve – so that every feature has a purpose, and where possible meets more than one challenge. It makes the whole design that little bit more efficient.”

A fantastic friend to have in emergency situations, but also a comfortable place to sit and take a rest when the weather turns – as it so often does walking in the hills of Britain – these shelters something that everyone should have stashed away in their pack for any adventure.