Baffin believes in real-world testing. The "Living the Brand" tagline sums up everything Baffin sets out to do, beyond our experiences at the Poles. Baffin is proud to say that every one of our trips is a success and not just because the product succeeds every time.
In May of 2010, Paul trekked to Machu Picchu wearing a pair of Baffins that, at the time, were still in development. Essentially the product succumbed to the environment and experience, which some may have seen this as a failure. Since those shoes failed for Paul, Baffin improved and corrected them so they won't fail for you. This is what Baffin sees as a true success.
The 2015 trip to the Wapta Traverse did not turn out as planned. As all team members have experience in Avalanche Training, we tested our avalanche gear for good measure and set out on the trip. Day one was about 8km and an ascent of 1,400ft with some very steep pitches through trees and a few exposed chutes. Baffin's new glove liners were a great addition to the trip as they afforded us dexterity and the ability to use touchscreen devices in transit without taking our gloves off. The narrow alpine climbs are beautiful in the Canadian Rockies and approaching the Bow Glacier is a nice balance of challenging yet achievable. Milder temperatures were a great opportunity to test the new Vent-Max Soft Shell jacket, as the waterproof membrane was removed in the chest and back areas promoting greater breathability. This was also the first trip we were able to test a new Inferno Base Layer, which combines synthetic wicking materials next to skin, with merino outer layers for added warmth and natural breathability. Unfortunately on day two, one of our teammates ski bindings broke and despite our best efforts, we could not get it into safe enough condition to continue across areas with high risk of crevasse exposure. We skiid off the mountain and made our way back to Canmore. We explored several options but decided to make the most of our situation, and since completing the traverse was no longer an option, the team drove to Panorama, BC where we jumped in on a heli-ski trip taking place the next morning. The views and skiing were absolutely epic. While we always build our product testing around challenging not only the products, but ourselves as well, we were thrilled to soak in a heli trip in the Canadian Rocky backcountry. Just because a helicopter takes you up, doesn’t mean you don’t need the right gear to get you down .. Right??
Mount Baker is an active volcano in the North Cascades of Washington. On this trek, Paul, Mark and Brent were joined by members of the 2006 North Pole team to climb, ski, test product and have fun on Mount Baker. One of the products tested was a new hardshell jacket prototype, and it was a fitting choice, as the weather experienced on the mountain was a healthy mix of wind and wet snow. It is one of the snowiest places in the world. After Mt. Rainier, Baker is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade volcanoes. Aside from a hardshell concept, a few members of the Baker team tested what became Baffin’s Camp Hoodie, a merino neck warmer and the new Made in Canada Trekker Sock. Long, cold days in the mountains are always worthwhile when you’re rewarded with powdery downhill skiing! All in all another successful trip with a great group of people.
In 2013 Paul decided to take his testing trip outside of the country, and the continent. This experience brought the Baffin brand to Swiss Alps where Paul testing product using Zermatt and Chamonix as base towns. This trip was a great opportunity to test some lighter insulated product and introduce early concepts of “temperature range” gear versus the established “temperature rated” products. It was here that the development process for Baffin’s Ultralite Series was fleshed out. Through mountaineering you can experience different climate zones. An insulating system which provides wicking and breathability in temperatures around 5C or 41F, while still allowing for performance when temperatures drop to -50C or -58 F, is hugely beneficial and can reduce the need to carry different types of footwear.
- Product Tested: Apparel
- Product Testers: Paul Hubner
Another family affair for the books. 2012’s Baffin Island expedition was special experience – led by brother and sister duo Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry, Paul Hubner was joined by his three sons Mark, Brent and Ryan. The trip opened with some training at Northwinds Arctic Adventure in Iqaluit. When the team was packed and ready to go, they flew to Qikiqtarjuaq and would begin their ski-tour beyond the sea ice, traveling through Auyuittuq and across the Arctic Circle. For Baffin, this was a milestone trek – Baffin’s Apparel System was finally production-ready and the team was able to outfit themselves from head-to-toe in Baffin product for Arctic Adventuring. This was the first time that a complete Baffin Apparel System was proven in the Arctic, and it performed flawlessly - even in 80km/hr winds and extreme cold temperatures. The team was grounded a couple of times due to severe weather patterns. In addition to the new Apparel, Brent Hubner and Sarah McNair-Landry tested Baffin’s first instalment of its 3-Pin Toe system for use with 3-Pin ski-tour binding systems. The 3-Pin Expedition boots used on this trip helped inspire the reinforced toe-piece on Baffin’s addition to the 3-Pin Series, the 3-Pin Guide Pro. For the others on the trip, narrower Icetrek Flexi Bindings were used so that we could test our Epic Series. However, when the wind blew all the snow away and sheer ice was exposed, all team members took off their skis and traveled by foot. See below to learn more about, and shop a complete list of Footwear and Apparel Products used on this signature expedition!
- Product Tested: Fleece Toque, Skull Cap, Fog-Off Face Mask, Fleece Neck Warmer, Polar Parka, Polar Pants, Soft Shell Hooded Jacket, Soft Shell Pants, Mid-Layer Half Zip, Mid-Layer Pants, Polar Mitt, Gauntlet Glove, Glove Liner, 3-Pin Expedition
- Product Testers: Sarah McNair-Landry, Paul Hubner, Mark Hubner, Brent Hubner, Ryan Hubner
This expedition marked another new experience in Baffin product testing. His amazing adventure in the Himalayan Mountains began on May 17, 2011, when he flew into Lukla, Nepal and later trekked to Phadink, Namche Bazar, Lobuche, other locations until finally, Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17,598ft! This trip was highlighted by a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Khumjung Golden Jubilee Celebration which honoured Baffin’s contribution to the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation. The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation aims to preserve the heritage and to improve the life of the people in the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal. Baffin is partnered in the mission of increasing the availability and quality of education. Baffin’s partnership has taken shape in the form of a computer lab at the Khumjung School. This was no doubt an exciting revolution for the community; and a very exciting adventure for Paul. Base layers and socks were tested on this trip, as well as the Rebel Series of footwear. The Rebel Series has since evolved into what is now our Industrial line of Ice Rebel work boots, containing the same technology and product development experienced on this trek.
2010 was another exciting year for the Baffin team. We opened the year with a hugely successful winter summit of Mount Rainier in Washington. It was a gruelling experience though, Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous, active volcanoes in the world. With large glaciers and a summit elevation of 14,411ft, Rainier is the highest mountain in the Cascade Range and the highest mountain in Washington State. Paul and his middle son Brent trained long and hard, and while dawning Baffin Apparel were afforded a brief window of opportunity to capture the peak!
Later in 2010, Paul trekked to Machu Picchu in Peru to test a new concept for a footwear series. While it wasn’t one of his more extreme trips, it was an important one nonetheless. Baffin was working to expand into more all-season footwear and Paul brought a prototype along with him. The prototype succumbed to the rugged trails and split open at the sole. While some may see this as a failure – Paul viewed it as an opportunity – for this allowed him to see first hand what needed improvement. He made the necessary adjustments, and this real-world test contributed to what we now know as the Softshell Series.
Led by Matty McNair and joined by the Angry Planet T.V. Show, Paul and his youngest son Ryan set out on this years trek to cross Baffin Island by ski and dog sled! Upon his arrival, Paul reflected "It's been a long time since my father was here, in fact there was no Iqaluit (called Frobisher Bay back then) and Nunavut didn't officially exist. Some how I feel an attachment to a place I have only read about (and of course named a company after)”. After training in Iqaluit, the team flew to Pangnirtung where they would set out to ski and sled across Frobisher Bay and through Auyuittuq National Park. The trip was an amazing display of Northern Lights, Polar Bear tracks and challenging ice fields. Although the team had a dog sled team to accompany them, the bulk of the trekking was done on skis. Paul was quick to note that the Baffin boot and Icetrek Flexi Binding combo is always a success. Eric Philips invented Flexi Bindings to fit Baffin's Polar Series and are used on more Polar journeys than any other ski binding. Baffin island is home to Mt. Asgard, Mt. Thor, Arctic Fox, Polar Bear, Arctic Hare and barren-ground Caribou – the many terrains of Arctic wilderness is the perfect playground for testing a wide range of Baffin gear.
The 2008 North Pole trip was a special one for Baffin – it was a family affair. Led by Doug Stoup, Paul trekked with his sons Mark and Brent on this expedition. It was a demanding but bonding experience, and served as a great opportunity to test early prototypes of what was soon to be Baffin’s apparel system. The fog-off face mask was inspired when “Cold blowing icy winds meant we had to keep our goggles on and our faces fully covered. The ice builds up inside and outside of your mask, making it extremely uncomfortable and cold. It is a nasty feeling when you stop for a break and lower your mask to take in a drink from the thermos. Not only do you drag the mask of ice down across a relatively warmer neck, but after your drink you have to rework the ice to form it on your face again. I have a love hate relationship with the breaks we take during the day. One side wants to stop due to fatigue, the other side wants to keep moving so as not to experience the finger numbing, bone rattling Arctic chill. Having said all that, the trek has been everything I hoped for and more.” -Paul Hubner upon reaching the Geographic North Pole.
The last expedition gave Paul and the Baffin team a real hands-on, experiential understanding of how the inner-boot system performs in extreme cold weather environments. Reaching the Geographic North Pole in Baffin boots was a success, and left a natural follow up challenge – trekking the last degree to the Geographic South Pole. Baffin’s Polar Series is aptly named, as the Endurance boot was taken to both the North and, on this expedition, South poles. The Antarctic is a dry climate and a desolate place reaching very low temperatures. On this trip, Paul experienced temperatures in the –40s and 130km/hr winds. “Did you know they have a 300 club at the South Pole? Those who spend winter there crank the sauna to 200F on the first day it reaches –100F outside. They then run naked (except for wearing their Baffin’s!) out to touch the Pole”. Well, things may get dark and dreary down there, but it’s mind over matter and they sure know how to work hard/play hard!
In April of 2006, Paul Hubner was challenged to take his product to the top of the world and test Baffin boots himself. Baffin footwear had been keeping people warm and performing for many years. This was an opportunity for Paul to challenge both himself and his product. A team of friends and fellow outdoor enthusiasts were assembled, with Polar explorer Doug Stoup at the helm, and their goal was to ski the last degree to the Geographic North Pole. At the North Pole, temperatures have been known to drop below -40C/-40F (and that’s during 24 hours of sunlight)! With the high humidity, it is difficult to remain dry and can make the climate feel that much colder than it already is. For this, members of the team were outfitted in Baffin’s Endurance boots, which are temperature rated to -100C/-148F environments. By virtue of their own power, the team reached their goal. This accomplishment was a success in itself, but it also inspired a new motivation for Paul and the Baffin brand - to “Polar Prove” and real-world test their technologies from that day forward.
- Product Tested: Endurance Boots (Polar Series)
- Explorers: Paul Hubner, Doug Stoup