If you’ve been to Geargasm, Chad North is a familiar face. Now the owner of North x North, Chad previously worked at Vargo Outdoors as its sales and marketing manager. North x North offers a line of wool kerchiefs and neck gaiters–you’ll see more than a few DCULers sporting them on trips. We were lucky to grab a few minutes of Chad’s time to talk about Geargasm and backpacking.
How would you describe Geargasm?
Geargasm is a backpacker’s dream event. It’s where you go to become a better backpacker. From meeting some of the best people (and hopefully future hiking partners!), you get to improve your backpacking skills through workshops and others’ experiences. If you have any question about backpacking, you’ll get it answered completely, especially as it relates to gear. No where else can you see and experience the plethora of backpacking gear from big name brands to the most specialized cottage companies. If you want to see, feel, and fit gear that you’ve always wanted, this is one of the only places to do it.
For gear manufacturers, specifically cottage gear manufacturers, Geargasm is one of the very few places to get your product in front of your target audience. Don’t sell your products in stores? Great! Get it to Geargasm for your target customers to see in an ideal outdoor setting. Have a new product that you’d like feedback on? Perfect. Get it to Geargasm for educated feedback from the potential customers who will wind up buying it. Have a product that requires a bit of education to understand fully? Guess what? Get it to Geargasm and show others how to use it. That’ll build the confidence they need to then purchase your products.
What made you want to be a part of Geargasm?
When I worked for Vargo, we were approached to send demo gear for the event being promised that it would be returned after the event. It was. And then the sales started coming in and continued to all year long.
We recognized some of the opportunities I listed above and decided to take the chance. After the success of the first year’s event, we decided to attend future events to demonstrate our gear and hang with the great people that make up Geargasm. Besides the near immediate sales post-event, we continue to see year-round sales from members of the group, even from those who didn’t attend, thanks to the word-of-mouth marketing this event generates.
How is the ultralight (UL) community unique?
The UL community is definitely unique in more ways than one. But what stands out for me is their constant striving for improvement to make their experience of being outdoors even better. From testing new gear, learning new skills, or pushing their boundaries through more difficult hikes, there isn’t much room for a status quo. Their constant desire to drop pack weight forces gear makers to continue innovating, which for me as a gear maker, is where the fun really is in product design. And they love to share their experiences with others to help them improve as well. You can’t BS this community…they will try your product once and if it doesn’t work, they’ll readily tell the rest of the community and your sales will be affected.
Why did you get into this line of work?
I always loved the outdoors, but around age 10 I became enamored with camping and backpacking gear which started my lifelong love affair with it. I took my first backpacking trip around age 13 and my pack weighed 70 lbs. 70 lbs.! After that trip and much indoctrination into ultralight backpacking gear and skills, I learned to not only get by with much less gear, but also to be pickier in finding gear that helped me reduce pack weight without affecting my comfort or overall experience. I learned what worked and what didn’t–a heavy pack and/or a miserable experience don’t lie. I always had ideas for product improvements or for products that didn’t yet exist which is what ultimately led to creation of my line of North x North products. In short, I love being outdoors and deeply know how the right gear can either elevate or diminish that experience.
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