In a typical Heliskiing season a CMH Heli-Ski Guide will go through at least one pair of top-quality ski gloves. For the rest of us a good pair lasts several seasons and is often retired with reluctance. Designing a pair of gloves to meet the demands of our guides takes some ingenuity, technical wherewithal and dedication to a quality product. So when Bob Krysak and Andy Anderson from CMH's retail division were on the quest for a new guide glove they were looking for a company that would not shy away from the challenge. The obvious answer: Outdoor Research (OR).
OR has an enviable reputation for producing products that, quite simply, work in the outdoors. A company born of a passion for human powered adventure they are committed to producing gear that keeps you comfortable in extreme environments.
One of the creators of the CMH Heli-Ski Guide Glove is Ammi Borenstein. I had a chance to chat with Ammi about the challenges and opportunities of creating this product and the design process he and his team went through to make the best glove for your guides.
JC: Ammi, a heli-ski guide doesn’t just need to keep his or her hands warm while skiing. What are some of the usage anomalies you needed to consider when designing this glove?
AB: We worked closely with the folks at CMH to consider all of the unique requirements of heli-ski guides. Mainly these considerations centered around durability and dexterity, keeping in mind the guide loads skis in and out of the ski basket multiple times a day. Oftentimes these 2 requirements work in opposition. But in the CMH glove we were able to add durability in all the right places while still maintaing an acceptable level of dexterity.
JC: Is there an off-the-shelf model that you used as a template for the guide glove?
AB: We approached this product as a ground-up development. We felt that with our glove design experience and guidance from the CMH team that we could solve the issues by starting out with a clean slate.
JC: Are there features you designed for the CMH Guide Glove that you imagine will spill over in to gear for the rest of us?
AB: We have already integrated many of the elements of the CMH glove into our current line. Specifically you can see some of the features of the CMH glove in our new Remote Glove. Things like the Pittard’s leather overlay come straight from our work with CMH. In addition, many of our liner gloves feature a new cuff design inspired by the work with CMH.
JC: How would you describe the creative process you and your team go through when designing a new product such as this one?
AB: As we always do, we met with core users of the product. In this case we discussed the specific needs of the CMH guides with the team in Banff. We used these brainstorm sessions to develop an initial prototype and then we refined based on CMH feedback and field usage. Ultimately we completed the task with 3 rounds of prototypes. We definitely spent some time on snow with these before finalizing. We have an active product development team that is constantly evaluating and using OR products.
JC: As a product designer for one of the coolest outdoor gear companies out there, what is on your Christmas wish list?
AB: My favorite thing in the world is to get out skiing/ snowboarding with my wife and 2 daughters. I’m looking forward to some good days out on the hill over the holidays and through the rest of the winter.
Of course, we wouldn't deprive our guests of the opportunity to be comfortable either. To that end, the CMH Guide Glove will be available in our retail shops in each CMH Heli-Ski lodge this winter. Chat with your shop manager to find the best gloves and gear for your heliskiing trip.
What are your favourite gloves or ski gear that you simply wouldn't ski without? Share your story here!