‘Look at where you want to go, put your energy into going there and remember to look up and enjoy the view’ – this was my daily mantra while rowing Bertha, my boat through the Grand Canyon. This was my third journey here and each trip has been a little different, all magical in my memory and each has taught me something about the world and myself.
Daily life is a beautiful pattern of loading, unloading, eating, hydrating, playing, laughing, looking at pretty rocks, sleeping and overall finding the path with the least resistance, both on the water and off. After the first week it doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday or Tuesday, it’s just today and the biggest things on the to-do list are to get through rapids safely, make good food, appreciate all the beautiful things, and be silly with people you love to be around. In those 21 days the people you are with transform from family, friends and acquaintances to a tight knit unit, reliant on each other for safety, fuel and fun, bound together forever by this incredible experience.
I’m lucky enough to work for a company whose culture is threaded deeply in playing outside. We get to do it often. Sometimes, we call it gear testing. In the last 365 days I have been able to boat over 700 river miles, with 44 nights sleeping either on a boat, or on the sand next to the river. Big Agnes understands that spending multiple nights testing the products I design allows me to uncover any flaws in those products, areas for improvement or if they’re ready to go as-is.
In the real world, on the river, there are a few details about the Log Fume for instance that you don’t read about in the feature bullets, like how you can fit 15 of your best friends under it, and how it is the best party shelter on a cold rainy evening. Or how the Double Wide Camp Robber is the best for boat sleeping, especially when you stuff two mummy bags inside on cold nights.
These trips help me to find grounding and inspiration so that when I return to my office and computer, I am designing camping gear that will keep you thinking about how great the trip is and not how well the gear is performing, because that’s my job. All throughout the design process, I worry about how well a sleeping bag or tent or pad will hold up to 21 nights of rain, sand blasts and wind gusts, so that my friends, family and the Big Agnes community will stay warm and comfortable through all of their adventures.
About the Author: Sally House is a senior designer at Big Agnes. When she’s not in the devo den, Sally is testing gear around town, up mountains and down rivers. Sally has a strong background in technical gear design from a life lived in the outdoors. She has brought her passion and expertise to Big Agnes for the past 6.5 years. Also enjoys cooking for friends, water color painting and learning about gardening at 7000ft in a 65-day growing season.