Designer for Paddy Pallin, Australia. I developed the first tunnel tents in the southern hemisphere, refined their frame pack designs, and developed the first radially baffled down sleeping bags.
Freelance designer for: Antartic Products, NZ. Anatomically shaped soft packs, 1975; Fairydown, NZ. First 4-season tunnel tents, Altimate, Altimate II and IV, 1979-1983; Macpac, NZ. Licence agreement to use my backpack designs, 1982.
1984 to 1999
Vango (Scotland) Ltd, UK. Tunnel tents introduced. Features introduced that have been adopted throughout the industry, eg, web end tensioners, pole tensioners, door/vent combinations. Patented tension band system, side impact pole systems, backpack frame and harness systems including patented biradial frame system. 1992, 1993, product of the year awards, COLA, for tents. 1995, nomination for European product of the year award for the Vango Extreme tent. 1991 Paramo UK. Preliminary design of outdoor shell garment range using Nikwax Biological Analogy System.
Paramo UK. Preliminary design of outdoor shell garment range using Nikwax Biological Analogy System.
Natural Balance, USA. Worked in a company to make my backpack designs. Ultimately, the company was unsuccessful but it served to develop designs and refine market concepts.
Leisure Products, Japan. Worked on backpacks and travel accessories.
Leeds Metropolitan University, Department of Leisure and Sports Sciences. I collaborated in pioneering research by Ray Lloyd into effect of load placement on posture, stability, fit and comfort and physiological parameters including heart rate, O2 consumption, tidal volume, gait patterns, pain and discomfort in different parts of the body. Research results demonstrated that a naturally balanced load carrying system significantly reduced forward lean, energy expenditure, fatigue and discomfort.
Craghoppers, UK. Developed a range of backpacks for the UK market around my core principles of natural balance, posture, movement and shaping. Introduced on the market late 1998 to much acclaim. In the first 18 months these models were on the market, they received 6 best buys in the UK outdoor magazine test reports and many recommendations.
Designed stage set for S-Club TV, London Weekend Television.
Design Council Millenium Award for Craghoppers rucksacks—one of six British products displayed in the Millenium Dome, representing the best of “British” creativity and innovation.
As a freelance designer, I had been unable to get an outside company to licence my Balance Pack designs in their completeness. This is because the designs were so fundamentally different that they made the current pack offerings of any company obsolete. No company could take the risk of such a big step forward and embrace a load carrying system which looked fundamentally different, even if it was far superior.
When I returned to NZ with my partner Devi, we set up a company to the design and manufacture products under our own label, incorporating and integrating all the biomechanical core principles that I had worked on for many years. In February 2002, we were a finalist in the DuPont Brand New Award for my ultra-lite Natural Balance Balance Pack. The prize was a free booth at the ISPO trade show in Munich. Our presence at the show, especially in the prestigious Brand New Award Hall, launched the brand and attracted several distributors for Europe.
The transition from a simple freelance design business to a successful international brand involving product development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution has been challenging. Without the wonderful support, enthusiasm and organising skills of my partner, Devi, it would not have been possible.
I am deeply in love with wild places.
My relationship with the outdoors started as a teenager when I fell head over heels for rock climbing, often literally. I am inspired by expedition climbers and the notion of exploring and creating a relationship with a place. I find this to be especially true when soaked to the skin and covered in mud, belting out some Taylor Swift two hours into a 12-hour day.
Tramping allows me to experience the wild places in our world and helps create a deep sense of belonging tied to those places. The feeling I get, walking along a ridge playing hide and seek with the Kea is unbeatable. There is so much mana in these spaces, it is such a privilege to get to be a part of them for a short while.
This season I'm striving to explore fear and challenge with curiosity while deepening my connection with the places I study on my topo map.@hazeldoesstuff
Musicians from Australia, Mickey & Michelle’s hiking origin stories are polar opposites!
Michelle started hiking with her Dad when she was 23, methodically gaining skills and gear over four years with the goal of her first long-distance hike at 27, the 680km Australian Alps Walking Track. Mickey spontaneously said ‘yes!’ to fill in on a section of this hike. His first ‘overnighter’ was 230km – there were some seriously sore knees, but also a very happy, inspired Mickey.
Both now hooked on long-distance hiking, they set their sights on New Zealand’s 3000km Te Araroa Trail. To make the 6 months of hiking financially feasible, they formed a band, wrote an original music set, recorded a debut album, brought their instruments and embarked on a walking tour playing concerts along the trail. It was a truly life-changing experience.
And Aarn packs have been with them the whole way! Michelle needs to load her back well due to a diagnosis of Osteoporosis when she was 24. Aarn packs just made sense. The fact that they’re also comfy and easy to access gear from the front pockets is an added bonus for her!
Raquel Hernandez-Cruz and Sam Salwei, the dynamic duo behind YogaSlackers, are known for merging yoga, acrobatics, and slacklining with significant contributions to the outdoor industry. For over a decade, they've been pivotal in testing and refining outdoor equipment, drawing from their extensive adventure sports expertise and a nomadic lifestyle, showcased by their life in the "#SlackerVan.
Their nomadic journey, vividly captured in their film "Road to Wanderlust," exemplifies their commitment to a life of constant movement, embracing the freedom and challenges that come with travelling extensively. This way of life deeply influences their work and teachings.
Together, they lead multi-day adventures, merging physical challenges with the serenity of natural environments. Their story, transcending physical feats, embodies balance, trust, and a life rich in adventure. They inspire people of all ages to explore the endless possibilities of life, backed by gear that they've helped to develop and perfect through their own adventures.