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    Your Feedback at Work - Critical Mass


    Product Feedback. Boy do we get a lot of it . . . From fit to function to fashion, from price to purpose to product names, customer feedback is one thing we've grown to rely on. We believe our customers are more passionate and outspoken than the norm. And while that means there's some folks out there who are hard to please, our quality just wouldn't be the same if it weren't for their willingness to ask for something better.

    Case in Point: the Critical Mass Bag. Long-time customers have seen many versions of this bag, each with its die-hard proponents and detractors. It was born of our own selfish desire to toss the day's gear into a sack, throw it over a shoulder, and be on our self-propelled way.

    The feedback we get from you comes from all angles: e-mails, phone calls, blog posts, letters (yes, people still write us by hand), magazine reviews, and surveys. But what do we do with it? Frankly, we get so much input that we could never respond to all of it. Since we can't respond to everyone directly, this post is a modest attempt to show how your feedback shapes our design decisions.

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    Green Neoprene? [Updated]

    Wetsuit_mfull_03jpgRecently there has been a lot of talk in the surf world about “green” wetsuits (1, 2, 3, 4). Most of the claims revolve around the use of neoprene made from limestone rather than petroleum. I asked Todd Copeland, who works on Patagonia's Fabric Development team, to shed some light on these claims.

    Many of us at Patagonia wear wetsuits but until 2005 none of us had ever developed one. When we first sought to get into the business, we went to visit the raw material manufacturers to learn how neoprene is made, what kinds of materials are available, and their relative advantages and drawbacks, including environmental.

    A wetsuit is basically made of foamed rubber, sometimes called a sponge. It can be laminated on one or two sides to fabric, usually polyester or nylon in a jersey knit. The pieces are glued and/or stitched together to make a wetsuit, and then the seams can be sealed to prevent water leakage.

    The sponge is made from polychloroprene rubber chips, commonly called neoprene. These are melted and mixed together with foaming (blowing) agents and pigment, usually carbon black, and baked in an oven to make it expand.

    To make the polychloroprene chips, the manufacturer polymerizes chloroprene monomers, which means reacting small molecules together to produce the large macromolecules (polymers) that make up rubber. There are two methods of manufacturing chloroprene monomer. The most common method – Method 1 – takes butadiene through a two-step process of chlorination and subsequent dehydrochlorination. The butadiene for Method 1 is derived from petroleum. The less commonly used method is to dimerize acetylene (react 2 acetylene molecules together to form a double molecule) and then hydrochlorinate the dimer. The acetylene for this Method 2 is derived from limestone.

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    Beach of the King - A Personal History of Playa Del Rey

    DJ Dukesherer's path to becoming an author was less direct than the one that led him to surfing. Paddling the deep blue waters off the coast of Playa Del Rey with his father were a defining element of his childhood.

    Mr. Dukesherer's ocean roots sunk deep into the sands of Playa Del Rey. Through his years, he's watched as sacred spots are paved over, developed, and forgotten. What's left of so many of these places is only memory. In what can only be called a labor of love, he's put together a paean to this treasured homeland: Beach of the King: Playa Del Rey/Westchester/Playa Vista, A Personal History.

    Beach of the King is part history, part memoir, but all heart. As DJ says about his efforts to preserve what remains of this treasured spot, "I am looking to find a way to bring some positive education to the area, in hopes that we can avert any further madness." In the spirit of that, he's put together a local library series to support his self-published book, with a standing exhibit in 4 parts beginning July 12, 2008 and running through June 2009. The series is being sponsored by the Los Angeles Library, Playa Vista Branch. If you're a local and would like more information, please leave your comments/questions below.

    From Beach of the King:

    When I was very young boy, my parents took us to the beach whenever they could, and we would spend long days on the beaches of Playa Del Rey, in Southern California. We knew three beaches there, at Dockweiler State Beach: Gillis Beach, Toe’s Beach and The Pits. It was like having a resort in your own back yard.

    We lived, then, about three miles from that beach. In those days, my father owned a very long--perhaps 18 foot--turquoise and speckled-white, hollow paddle-board. On sunny-hot summer days, he would paddle out at old Toe’s Beach in Playa Del Rey,  and cover miles on it; sometimes going as far south as Malibu, which was still accessible in those days. This was before the new channel was dug-- that now separates Playa Del Rey, from Marina Del Rey and Venice Beach.

    [Photo: DOCKWEILER STATE BEACH, R.V. Campground]

    Continue reading "Beach of the King - A Personal History of Playa Del Rey" »

    Pat Europe Colleagues Get High Together

    Team_eu Yannick and his ski cronies from Patagonia Europe are stormin' the steeps again. While denizens of our beach hut (Patagonia Ventura) have got spring surf on the brain, and the tribe at the desert mountain outpost (Patagonia Reno) are stymied by the all-to-quick disappearance of the snowpack, our friends at Patagonia Europe are proving that sometimes the best way to enjoy the spring is to get as high as possible. For these folks, that means summiting the 4248m (13,937 ft) Mont Blanc du Tacul, a scant 45 minutes from the Patagonia Europe offices.

    Below, is a rough translation of the trip outline. The full post (in the original French) can be found on his always image-rich blog, Team Dré Dans le Pentu. Like Yannick would say, "Point 'em straight down!"

    April 27, 2008: Mont Blanc du Tacul on skis.

    By Yannick, Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 13:26
    Category: "Going Out"

    Beautiful morning forecast, with the afternoon becoming overcast and the snow up to 3000m rotten . . . the choice: Mont Blanc du Tacul.

    Top_of_midi_3 Our start was early in the morning (5h Annecy), because of reservations, the telecabins were already full Friday. Three employees of Patagonia were smart and decided not to store their skis too fast:
    -- Evelyn - Direct Sales Manager (who made the most photos below).
    -- Guillaume - Marketing Assitant (télémarkeur, his first time at 4000m).
    -- Yannick - I.T. Systems (myself).

    [Top: Guillaume and Evelyn on the descent from the Auguille du Midi's top station (approx. 12,800'). Above: Looking toward le Mont Blanc from the top of the Auguille du Midi, only 3,000 more feet to climb. All photos: Yannick Clèvy]

    Continue reading "Pat Europe Colleagues Get High Together" »

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