Step one of my brand ambassador role with Snugpak was set to be a visit to their HQ in North Yorkshire. I left my house at 4am, optimistic that any meeting where you are expected to wear outdoor gear was going to be a good one.
The building itself where Snugpak not only has their headquarters but also still makes their key items is definitely worthy of mention in itself. A Grade II listed old wool factory, it’s four storeys are still a hive of activity, just as they had been more than a hundred years ago. As we made our way around, Darren pointed out his own favourite parts of the building; a particular stone step which has been worn into a smooth concave shape as many hundreds of workers climbed the stairs many thousands of times. The lift shaft, no longer used for anything except goods, and the warehouse doors and rope pulley on the outside, all of which are still used to bring in deliveries or send out orders. Unlike today’s sterile offices, there was a feeling of warmth, of things being made, and every single person I met there had a smile on their face.
Darren and I were joined by Todd, Jonny, Charlotte and Steve, and I was having my photo taken all the way round. This is something I usually hate, but having been on the other side of the camera I know how unhelpful it can be if people are reluctant subjects. As Steve snapped away, Darren explained about how the signature jackets and sleeping bags are made, and we chatted about the methods used to make the fibre stuffing, and how technology has advanced production.
Everyone was happy to chat; I met Jim, who’d been with Snugpak for more than 20 years. His wife also works there and the factory is how they met. They are all understandably proud to work for one of the last British manufacturers of outdoor gear, something very unusual today.
Everything from the building and the staff to the location on the edge of the Leeds-Liverpool canal felt so British. We all had fun trying out the tyre-hauling along the canal, and I really felt that Snugpak is a brand where I can belong – where I’ll share stories of my adventures (and disasters no doubt as well), and that they’d support my endeavours.
I’m only sorry it’s not closer to where I live, as I can imagine popping in for a cup of tea and a catch up and they’d always be welcoming.
I left with a goodie-bag of a SJ6 jacket, a Monster kit bag and a Softie smock. I’m getting straight on with trying them out with a training weekend on Dartmoor in February. As desolate a place as any in the UK.
Gear tests based on miserable, wet and windy conditions coming to a blog near you soon!!