At Baffin, we’re known for our innovation, technology, and function, but proving performance doesn’t stop at certifications or in a lab. Baffin boots go through an extensive process to make sure customers get the best product for their needs. The team at Baffin executes product testing in real world applications and environments to validate confidence and deliver the highest quality product. Our Real-World Testing™ (RWT™) system helps to recommend comfort levels associated with Baffin footwear. Each level has been determined by extensive use of Baffin product in real-world application on expeditions and jobsites around the world.
Meet Mark Hubner (Senior Vice-President, Commercial at Baffin) – a leading executive and an important member of the Real-World Testing™ team as the Testing Team Director. Mark has trekked to the Geographic North Pole and across the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island. He has led several winter and all-season adventures, and continually tours some of the more extreme and remote areas of both Canadian & U.S. Mountain ranges. Mark accompanies Baffin products from ideation, through the development process and into real-world situations where he tests a wide range of products year in and year out.
In the fall of 2018, Mark was joined by his wife Laura for an expedition to Quandary Peak. The area is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America with an elevation of 14,271 FT. Geared up in Baffin apparel and footwear, Mark and Laura set out to trek Quandary Peak, the most commonly climbed fourteener in Colorado.
To Mark, warmth, protection and waterproof features are extremely important on any expedition, so he and Laura sported Baffin’s BASE LAYER TOP AND BASE LAYER BOTTOM, TRAIL SOCK and GUIDE GLOVE shell with GLOVE LINER to keep their bodies protected from the elements. During this trip Mark was testing a development sample of our men’s boot HUDSON, while Laura wore a women’s legacy style from the Softshell Collection, with the same style and technology as our boot HIKE.
At the beginning of Mark and Laura’s trek, the trail was clear; covered in dirt and grass, no snowfall or ice to navigate. As they began to ascend, the ground began to soften, and made way for muddy terrain. As they reached the higher altitudes of the mountain, the colder temperatures created an all-new environment to handle. Snow covered trails and a higher wind-chill meant their gear now had to not only support a hike but also protect from the elements. This transitional climate meant the boots had to be able to handle diverse elements from base through to insulation.
At the time of this expedition, HUDSON was in its early stages of development and was going through extensive Real-World Testing™ before going to production. Originally inspired by the style of the MONSTER COLLECTION from Baffin’s Industrial product range, the goal in creating HUDSON was to make a versatile product that can stand up to the diverse environments found across North America. HUDSON has a broader range of application to withstand these varied elements and was one of Baffin’s earlier endeavors of offering the Fixed-Fit Inner Boot System and building in a waterproof membrane.
Overall, the boot withstood the challenges of this expedition. The tread design was able to endure the various terrains during the trek and the durability of the boot was proven. This expedition prompted the largest change of the boot in the development stage with the addition of B-Tek™ Insulation. When initially developed, HUDSON had no insulating properties but as development went on the team decided this boot should be something that could also be used during colder months and snow-covered conditions. It was this trip, as Mark and Laura ascended into snowy conditions that Mark realized the benefit this boot would experience with the addition of Baffin’s B-Tek Insulation technology.
HUDSON in its final form is Northern Rated in Baffin’s Real-World Testing™ (RWT™) evolution – made for the most diverse cold-experiences, where both wet and icy conditions may be present. Northern Rated cold comfort is achieved with moderate activity and has been proven by us across the North. They feature Baffin’s Fixed-Fit multi-layer inner boot system, with proprietary technology including:
- Thermaplush™ soft, next-to-foot wicking layer for warmth, form-fitting
- B-Tek™ Foam lining for comfort
- B-Tek™ Heat lightweight, 4-channel hollow-fibre insulation for high-loft breathability in a broad range of temperatures.
Over the past twenty years the team at Baffin, starting with President Paul Hubner, have taken product to the ends of the Earth and all around the globe, to ensure the product is the best quality once it reaches its end users. This expedition to Quandary Peak was no different, taking Baffin products and learning from the onsite experience of how the boots withstand the environment they are facing. As Mark explains, “We all have our own subjective opinions and bias when it comes to product, but with RWT™ we can aggregate learnings from the team and ambassadors to ensure our product provides end users with the protection and experience they need.”
Written by April Lopez