Testing and Validation

As guides, we don’t have the luxury of calling in sick when mother nature goes nuclear, and neither does our gear. It needs to perform, it needs to be durable, and it needs to function every day. In our first phase of development, we racked up more than 1 million vertical feet of elevation in a single climbing season. Through this, we discovered that 100,000 vertical feet of testing was the threshold for exposing product weakness and nailing a design. Our 100K Promise organically evolved from this discovery. It’s our internal benchmark and our promise to you that every piece we make has been refined through our rigorous process.

100K Promise

Our Lab

Our process is at work on mountains all over the world, but Mt. Rainier in the Pacific Northwest is the heart of our lab. It’s where the authentic development and testing of our designs occur. We prove the value of every fabric, every feature, and every function that is built into our gear.

Wear Test Program

All of our testing is human-powered. That’s where we got our start, and that’s still how we validate every piece we make. The RMI guide team is the foundation of this process. They wear prototype gear all around the world, and give us honest (sometimes brutal) feedback. That’s okay, though, because we’re here to get it right and improvement is a continuous cycle. Our Wear Test Program exists for that reason. Because “good enough” rarely is.

• 2016 – Over 1.2 Million vertical feet of wear testing by our guide team of primary fabrics used in 76 sample prototypes to build 19 different styles.
• 2017 – Reached over 48 million vertical feet of wear testing and use of 143 prototypes by our team of 60+ guides, and thousands of RMI climbers on Mt. Rainier.
• 2018 – Project Vertical was born and we logged a mind-boggling 100 million vertical feet (and counting) of human-powered testing to date on mountains and outdoor playgrounds around the world.
• 2019 – New fabrics and prototypes continue to be added to our roster for our team of guides to beat up and try to “break.” It’s how our new styles are born and it takes time (and lots of climbing uphill!), but the mountains don’t compromise so we’re not about to either.

• 2020 – We took a Pandemic break in 2020 and are ramping back up with testing and designs in 2021.

Through Whittaker Mountaineering’s rental program, we tracked the elevation statistics of every RMI guide and client who wore Bight Gear. Daily elevation totals were collected, cross referenced, and totaled, allowing us to track exactly how far each piece  of gear went. This was how we achieved the staggering 100 Million vertical feet of Bight Gear validation.